Daniela Alvaran | Xomina
Did you know the top performing posts on social media include food or an animal - specifically cats or dogs? So when Daniela Alvaran ran into visa issues while studying and beginning her career in the Netherlands, she posted a picture of herself and her housemates (very cute) dog 'Oona' on her profiles to see if anyone could help - and she went viral.
Daniela and Oona reached over 200,000 people, one of those people being a founder of Xomnia who got in touch with Daniela and a year later she is working as a talent consultant. When social media is used for the greater good it really does work!
Women Rock Ambassador Lucia chatted with Daniela about how she aims to create a more diverse data team, what millennials can learn from Gen Z and who would be guests at her dream dinner party - we'd definitely want a seat at this table, that's for sure...
FIRSTLY... HOW DID YOUR JOURNEY START, HOW DID YOU GET INTO TECH RECRUITMENT?
The picture of my roommate’s dog saved me from being deported…
After moving to the Netherlands for studies & kick-starting my career by helping young entrepreneurs, I ran into some visa sponsorship issues & was in a situation where I needed to find a job, or I'd have to leave the Netherlands. After posting a picture of myself (& gorgeous dog) it reached out to over 200,000 people & the founders of Xomnia found the post and gave me a chance. After being there for a year now, I've had my ups & downs, experiencing imposter syndrome, and having no idea what Machine Learning was when I joined, I've entered the Tech world now & I'm excited to see where this takes me!
WHO KNEW A SELFIE WITH A DOG COULD BE LIFE-CHANGING?! YOU MENTIONED THAT YOU'RE AIMING & HOPING FOR THE DATA TEAM TO BE THE MOST DIVERSE, HOW CAN COMPANIES ATTRACT & RETAIN WOMEN IN SENIOR TECH ROLES?
Today one of the most senior people we have hired accepted the offer – and she was a woman for the data engineering team! I almost cried when I found out this female was going to be joining this team (which has traditionally been very male-dominated), because it starts there, getting a few senior women on board through networking & recommendations. I worked with my Team Lead to make this happen because he understands the importance of more balance.
We're also going to a campaign with one of our youngest Data Engineers & a Women's Tech hub in Amsterdam called Equals. She's so hardworking and really understands the value of representation, so she'll be able to demonstrate a more realistic path for those who are maybe only a small bit away from where she is, inspiring younger women to keep going.
Branding is also super important, what you're posting on LinkedIn has to show diversity because if people don't see themselves in what you're posting they're not going to be interested.
CAN'T WAIT TO SEE THAT CAMPAIGN ONCE IT'S FINISHED! WHOM WOULD YOU SAY INSPIRES YOU THE MOST?
I could name a few, one being Marie Forleo who's super into the social space, celebrating femininity in the workplace. I also know it's cliché but I love Oprah Winfrey, I love what she's done with her platform & I love her new focus on spirituality.
WHAT DO YOU THINK MILLENNIALS CAN LEARN FROM GEN Z?
I think so much about generations, it's one of my guilty pleasures. Ray Dalio comments on how we're always repeating patterns of history & that what we're living through right now happened before
I'm really excited to see more millennials make it into leadership positions because they tend to have a more holistic understanding of people and their wants and needs (unlike baby bloomers😉) & tend to understand people more. I think it's really important for millennials to learn more about the digital era from GenZ's. For example, LinkedIn influencers are a real thing now & it's not really cringy!! You can really make an impact at scale through social media and millennials should listen to GenZ because the digital era is going to be a tool to change the world not just something to use for fun.
TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOU! SO, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE WOMEN TRYING TO GET INTO TECH?
I'll give two sides, a recruiter side & a Daniela side... I think it's so important in your early 20's to spend time to try and understand your mind, try to understand your limiting beliefs, and understand how your mind body & emotions are connected, so when you're faced with life later on, you'll be able to handle it a bit better.
Also, join a community! I think there are a lot of great communities, women are great at building them. My best friend started from Good Girl to Bad Ass & we meet women from all over the world from. We chat about professional development, our love lives, and our minds & we're just all there for each other. Having a community to help you figure out who you are before your career, will make you feel less alone in the process.
In terms of career, it's totally fine to be yourself. You don't have to act like the guys in the room to make it. Once you have that understanding of who you are, it's okay to own it. Stop trying to fit into this mould that the tech world has become!!
Besides that, if you can get into consultancy, it's great because you can learn a lot very fast. The requirements do tend to be strict, so Product & start-up organisations are a great place to start.
INCREDIBLE ADVICE, THANKS FOR SHARING! NOW MOVING ON TO PROBABLY THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION... YOU'RE HOSTING A DINNER PARTY: WHO ARE YOUR GUESTS, WHAT'S ON THE MENU & WHAT ARE WE PLAYING FOR MUSIC?
So funny... Dinner party guest Jay Shetty, he's a millennial with a great understanding of social media. I'd love to understand how he's marrying all these worlds together & how he's using social media to bring it to the masses in such a successful and beautiful way. I'd have his wife Radhi cook some of the lovely vegan stuff she makes! & then after dinner, we can have a salsa party.
I'D WANNA BE THERE! AND FINALLY, WHAT'S THE MANTRA YOU LIVE BY?
I was a bit hesitant because it's not guided by recruitment or tech, but it is something I live by...
Direction over ambition, courage over control & playfulness over emptiness.
I don't know what it is, maybe when we're trying to prove ourselves it makes us burnt out. You're trying to control everything. You achieve a lot of things, but you feel so tired and empty in the process, so I think the direction is more a mission-driven thing. It's something north, but you should be flexible on how you get there - it doesn't have to be as strict and demanding and you can definitely have fun in the process!
Thanks, Daniela you rock 🤘
Interview by Lucia Alcock