”Alis volat propriis” – An interview with Valentina Vacca
Myself and Val go way back, we’ve stayed close, helped each other and I can’t believe I am only just getting around to speaking to her for Women Rock. We all know the stats for women in leadership in the industry and even more so with the devops, cloud, infrastructure space. Val is with me in agreeing we are slowly seeing a change and it is only by speaking and doing that we will get to see the improvement in the industry. Val is a mentor, an advocate, we share a love for animals and good people. We’re really excited to hear and share your story and career so far, thanks for speaking to us Val. ❤
I’VE BEEN LUCKY TO HAVE KNOWN AND WORKED WITH YOU FOR A GOOD FEW YEARS NOW BUT COULD YOU TELL PEOPLE READING THIS A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOU AND WHAT YOU DO?
I’m a chief architect in the Infrastructure and Cloud domains. My career started over 20 years ago working as Linux and Infrastructure systems admin for Telecoms then moved my way up and learning new technologies on the way. I’ve been working with DevOps and Cloud for quite a few years now.
Since I’ve been in senior management my role has been less and less hands-on, today I drive change and vision and build that community of people that build great things.
WHERE DID YOUR PASSION FOR TECH AND CLOUD/DEVOPS COME FROM?
I would say it was a normal evolution coming from infra systems administration, working on a multiple type of role, challenges and industries. Cloud and DevOps are just an evolutionary step for the like of us.
Being a women in leadership and in tech, we know the stats are a sight for sore eyes, but there’s a change happening, slowly but I really feel we are seeing more people from underrepresented groups shining through and stepping into leadership roles.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE AS A LEADER?
I think the stats in the UK are definitely worse compared to other European countries where more women studies in STEM. Not only being women can be a blocker but also the fact that I’m a foreigner and my culture and education background is someway different.
I feel sometimes we need to prove more why we deserve a role, there is an unconscious bias rooted in education and social background. We need to change the mentality at early stages of the education journey so that women in IT do not seem as some rare whiteflies.
I also think the problem goes well above, it impacts BAME whatever is the gender, it impacts the way we perceive foreigners again no matter of the gender.
I SAW YOU ARE NOW A MENTOR THROUGH REED TECH WHICH IS AWESOME AND SO NEEDED. WE GET SO MANY MESSAGES ABOUT WHERE TO FIND A MENTOR. CAN YOU TELL US A BIT ABOUT IT AND HOW SOMEONE CAN FIND A MENTOR?
I think finding a mentor is like finding a friend we can talk about work without been judged, it’s opening up to each other experiences and it’s not about getting power but more coping with the challenges before us.
There are different programs supporting woman in IT, I’ve been part of the Reed program for over a year now and I think it’s great to be able to share our burden with someone, helping us look at the problem from a different angle. I think a program of coaching will also be great to support us in our leadership role, sometimes we feel ashamed asking for help….we feel vulnerable.
IF YOU COULD STEP INTO A TIME MACHINE 50 YEARS INTO THE FUTURE HOW DO YOU ENVISION THE WORLD OF TECH?
I think 5G will give a big push to a more mobile way of consuming services, most likely we are going to see more micro and nano scale engineering based on bio chipset.
Systems wise, we will be moving to a micro-edge distributed model.
ALONG WITH OUR JOINT LOVE FOR ANIMALS WE BOTH SHARE A PASSION FOR DE&I. HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION IN YOUR OWN WORDS?
It’s acceptance, it’s learning from each others diversity.
Culture and identity diversity is what makes human better, richer, we have so much to learn from each other, if we could only lose our stereotypes.
And animals….what can I say, best company ever!
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU?
Do my job, set the change, build IT identities, a vision to share.
ANY BOOKS, BLOGS OR PODCASTS TO RECOMMEND?
Best books are about philosophy and psychology, as leaders, we need to learn how the human-machine works to make our teams successful.
AND LASTLY WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE QUOTE?
Alis volat propriis – She flies with her own wings
Thanks for sharing this with us Val, you really are an inspiration for everyone, the future engineers and the future females in leadership! Keep rocking
A voice for diversity in Tech & Engineering <3