Ana Martinez is CTO (Chief Technology Officer) at PowerToFly, which connects women to jobs that actually promote work-life balance. She has an M.B.A., along with degrees in Computer Science and Computer Engineering.
“…More and more companies are realising – especially companies that work in tech – that remote work is the way of the future…”
My career to date
I’m the CTO of PowerToFly, and prior to that I’ve been working as head of product development and head of engineering, mainly in start-ups and small businesses around media and sales companies. I got into tech when I was very, very young – I started programming when I was eight / nine years old.
I really got into tech around 16 – that’s when I started programming seriously. I went to school and then I went to university to get my computer science degree, and I’ve been working in tech ever since. If you have an aptitude for maths and science, and you have a family that supports you and motivates you to follow your dreams, that’s the best.
My role at PowerToFly
When you work in a start-up you wear a lot of hats if you’re CTO but really I manage both the product and engineering teams. What that means is working with product on figuring out what we’re building. Given the strategic priorities of the company, what are the things that are really going to move the needle for PowerToFly and that will provide value and impact to our customers? It’s about working with engineering teams on how we’re going to do that.
How are we going to implement the things the product managers dream up, and how are we going to do it in a timeline that is good for the business?
I like to follow a process. I think the key to have teams succeed is first to have good people on your team. If you have a good set of ‘A’ and ‘B’ players you’re in good shape. First you need to figure it out so you have the right people but even when you have that, as the teams grow, you need some sort of process to know things are going to work together and communicate.
How are they going to succeed and how are they going to measure themselves for that success? In that sense I think I’m organised and I when I come to a new team I tend to first figure out what the processes are and the ways we’re going to structure things so we can scale.
PowerToFly is a network for professional women, mainly in tech, which is where we’re focusing now. The main thing that we try to do is find jobs for those women. In general we try to find flexible jobs because we know that as women it’s quite important for many of us to have that flexibility. So we work with a lot of companies that provide remote work, or provide what we call ‘flexible-hybrid’ jobs, where you have to go to the office maybe a couple of times in the week, or from time to time.
That’s the message that I think is resonating quite well with both sides – with women that flexibility is quite important, especially when you get to motherhood. More and more companies are caring more about diversity and they understand how diverse teams are really important and are providing more value than homogenous teams.
We have men in the company too, so we’re not discriminating, but we know that it’s hard to find good developers in general – I know that as a hiring manager, and it’s especially difficult to find good developers who are women in tech, so that’s where we try to provide the extra value. We look for those women, we help them through the interview process and we find them great jobs.
The benefits of agile working
Agile is a movement. It’s just a different way of how to do project management, and scrum is one of the main methodologies within agile. To me it’s a way of getting teams to work together – how to communicate and how to understand the things that they have to do in a very iterative way.
The key to agile is getting everybody on board. There are many different ways people may apply agile, but unless you have everybody aligned and saying, “Yes, this is what we want to do,” then you’re really not doing it right. You might be working on little pockets of iteration here and there, but the thing that your company needs to embrace is the iteration and the way the teams work together.
Diversity in tech: Is it going fast enough? Probably not…
I don’t have metrics to tell you how fast diversity is moving – it’s more like a gut feeling. I think things are moving, for sure. We see more and more companies that care about diversity and they care about finding good women. Is it going fast enough? Probably not, but I think it’s about continuing education of companies in two areas – one is diversity and the other one in remote work.
More and more companies are realising – especially companies that work in tech – that remote work is the way of the future. More and more people prefer to work that way, and there’s not a lot of reasons you wouldn’t want to do it if you know how to organise yourself and you know how to organise your company.
Because more and more companies are having a hard time finding and keeping good developers, they’re getting more inventive and more flexible. Are things getting better for women because of that? Hopefully yes, as companies realise, they’re adding more flexibility, so as a result this helps women get more involved in the workforce and apply for more of those jobs. I would love to see it moving faster, but it’s the nature of the beast!
I think the key there is education of leaders. The more hiring managers and the more leaders you have that are willing to try and they become successful doing it, the faster we’ll get there. It’s about getting to those leaders and getting them to try these new ways. They’re not really ‘new’. A lot of people have been doing them for a long time, but it’s making it more mainstream.
Advice for women and girls who want to get into tech
The good thing about computer science is that you can learn it on your own if you want. It’s different from other skills where you maybe need to have more formal training. It’s all about practice and it’s all about doing it. If you get a chance to go to school and get a degree, more power to you because you are going to have the theoretical foundation to understand what you’re doing, but there’s so many books and there’s so many classes out there that you can just take online to help you navigate through it.
The best way of learning is just to get a computer and start programming. Start building your own pages and start building your own applications and your own mobile apps. Get good at it. If you’re skilled there’s definitely the demand out there. Demand is going to continue growing, so if you’re good at it you’re never going to be without a job.
If you pick a few languages, after you get good at them it’s easy to move around. If you understand the foundation of how things are done, each language has its own syntax, but you’re always trying to do the same things. Just pick one or two, get good at them, understand what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, and then you can go from there.
Coming up for PowerToFly
We’re very excited because we’re launching a new product for our companies to help them find women in tech. We’re working very hard on making that product ready for end of Q2 and hopefully that will help more companies join the platform and do a lot more self-serve search for these women and being able to post jobs easily, and get recommendations, and good matches for women who could be a good fit for those jobs, so that’s quite exciting on the client side.
For candidates we’re looking at how we use algorithms to really help them find the best jobs, based on the skills and experience that they have. So how can we match them to the best jobs out there. We’re working on creating those recommendations and helping them through the interview process. We do it because we want to make a difference. Watch this space.