Women are rising in the tech industry, including here at Making Sense where we’re very fortunate to have Silvia Vassolo. In this latest installment of Meet the Making Sensers, we talked to Silvia and asked her what it was that drew her to this industry and how she makes her mark here at our company.
Silvia is one of our most experienced Project Managers (PM), having acquired most of her experience in North America. She moved back to Argentina (where she was born) 6 years ago, and has been part of our team for about 3 ½ years. Bird watching, nature photography and scuba diving are her passions, and we consider her a one of-a-kind woman in the tech industry. Let’s meet her!
Tell me a little bit about your background.
S: I have over 35 years of experience in the technology field, 30 of which have been in North America, including almost 20 years in Canada and 10 in the US. I also lived for a year in Costa Rica, where I learned the “pura vida” lifestyle.
Throughout my career I have done pretty much every job within the IT world! I started as a programmer and moved through the roles until I became a Project Manager about 20 years ago, which I loved and decided to focus on for the rest of my career. Right now I am spending my time mostly on project and program management, and also doing some training and university teaching.
What differences can you see in the software industry of 35 years ago and today?
S: When I started, we did not have fancy frameworks and editors like today. Computer programmers created and edited their programs line by line on punched paper cards. I remember once, I got lazy and did not punch the card serial number, and before I could have the cards read by the computer I tripped and dropped the box containing the cards. Without the serial number it was impossible to put the cards together in the proper sequence, and I had to punch the program line by line all over again!
Computers were slow and big. Before, it was a lot more difficult in terms of manual effort. Right now, you have a proliferation of frameworks. The benefit is that you don’t have to code the basics because there is already a lot of stuff coded for you. The downside is that technology changes all the time, and it is hard to find the skill sets that you need.
What do you enjoy most about Project Management?
S: Actually, I love organizing projects, getting them started, and understanding what the client really needs, which I think are the basics for success. I believe it is very important investing time at the beginning, determining what is needed and then putting together the structure and the team needed to execute the project that would fulfill the client’s needs. In fact, this is where my contribution is most valuable.
During project execution, I mostly enjoy managing risks and client’s expectations. It is important to to be very direct and open in my communications when there are problems. The moment you think there is a risk, raise it. For instance, if something has to change, either for a technical or business reason, it is critical to understand the impacts of the change to then be able to make the hard decisions around cost, timeline and scope. If I could always perfectly manage that delicate balance, I would be very happy!
Why should I have a PM on my development team?
S: The PM is the person who should ensure that the project is on track and who raises the flag if it’s not. For instance, ensuring that a team has the right skills to accomplish the project objectives, driving resolution of issues, managing budget, risk, resources and client’s expectations. A PM performs these tasks in collaboration with team members such as the technical leader, with input from everyone in the project team.
The software industry faces lots challenges, how does Making Sense tackle them?
S: I think Making Sense is very well positioned to do that, because of our size. We are not too small, and we are not too big either, which gives as a lot of flexibility. Our leaders value creativity and innovation and understand how the industry is evolving to offer the best value proposition to our clients and prospects.
I am very happy to work here, and want Making Sense to be the last company I work with before I retire. I relate to Making Sense’s core values and appreciate the respect with which the company treats its employees, which by the way I believe is a key reason why our people stay here for a long time. They know each other, they have fun with each other, and when they have to do the work, they get serious about it. I have seen folks getting up at 5AM to go surfing and then come to work fully energized!
Can you tell me 2 things you’ve learned from being a PM?
S: Well, one is to communicate in a direct and open way, which is very effective when raising issues and risks as soon as you see them.
The other one has to do with getting to know the people you work with as early as possible, and not ignoring anyone who may have an impact on your project. This means not only your client, your team, but also external parties who may have a say on the results. It makes a huge difference.
How do you like to spend your free time?
S: There are a couple of things that I love doing in my free time. One is nature photography. Lately I started doing bird watching and I got myself a present: a powerful lens to take close-ups of birds. Also started learning how to identify them, which is not easy since there are over a thousand species just in our country (over ten thousand in the world).
But my main passion is scuba diving.- In fact, I’m an instructor-. I have recently became a member of a local non-profit dive club, I’m hoping to be scuba diving soon! Cannot wait to be down there again, it is like meditation, removing yourself from any worries you might have and being able to relax and be in the moment.
And that’s Silvia Vassolo – as you can see, she’s one of a kind! We’re proud to have her on board and look forward to many more years of working together here at Making Sense. Stay tuned – we’ll bring you more interviews with extraordinary Making Sensers next time!
And in the meantime, be sure to connect with Silvia on Linkedin.