Welcome to Women of DevOps, Episode 14! Today’s guest opted to do a text-only version of Women of DevOps. We’re meeting Ana Carla Cavalcante, SRE Manager at Hash. Ana Carla lives in Brazil 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 and I’m thrilled to have her on! Let’s see what she has to say about DevOps, her career, and her experience as a woman in tech.
‘Til next time,
The Women of DevOps, Ep. 14
Rox: Hey everyone, thank you all so much for joining us for another episode of Women of DevOps! Today, we’re joined by Ana Carla Cavalcante. To start, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Ana Carla: Ana Carla, Brazilian, mother of Dante and Bento, wife of Fred and with more than 20 years of experience in technology. My career started in IT infrastructure and support, and gradually, I took on team leadership in IT. Next thing I knew, there I was leading!
In the year 2017, I started my interest in communities with the intention of bringing technology events to the region where I lived, as well as sharing some of what I learned with more people. I support causes that promote and encourage women to start and persist in tech because I believe that a woman's place is wherever she wants to be. I am currently a Master's student in data science and artificial intelligence and learning to use Python for development. The more I study AI, the more I see how technology and humans can work together.
Rox: How long have you been in tech, and what was your career progression like?
Ana Carla: I started in tech long ago, in 1998. I didn't have any idea what tech was about, but I was curious and wanted to become friendly with computers. In the beginning, it was very hard for me to understand programming languages, since schools in my country don't teach this content. But when I started college, I worked to understand if what I was studying could be a market reality.
I started my career in technology by supporting internet providers while in college. Then I moved to ERP consulting and systems implementations. After some time working as an IT consultant in ERP systems, I was called to lead a business intelligence team in the health sector. At that time, around 2005, I started my experience with team leadership in IT.
My team was very small and I had zero experience in leadership. It was a tremendous challenge to move from a technical role, which I performed, to leading teams. In 2017, I became interested in joining communities, so I joined the organization team of Pyladies Fortaleza, and later I was introduced to the world of DevOps, joining the organization team of DevOpsDays Fortaleza. My eyes glowed when I saw the chance to help women get into technology in the Pyladies Fortaleza meetups.
In 2018, we revitalized this community, and there were no more than 20 women with the idea and the will to prove to other women that yes, it is possible to start and maintain a career in technology. The community work involves devoting time and I do it happily.
DevOpsDays Fortaleza invited me to be part of their organization team in 2018. Being part of these communities has amplified my network and knowledge. I believe that participating in a social community strengthens the continuity in the area, especially for women in technology. Unfortunately, we are still the minority in the area. I learned how to lead technology teams by trial and error, because no one groomed me to become a leader.
As time went by, I fell more and more in love with people and technology. The perfect match. You can learn technology in books, courses, and by exploring it. But leadership is very interesting. I usually say that it's a living and learning process, because each person is unique – there are no standards. So leadership helped me evolve as a person.
I've had experience that was both challenging and gratifying: managing a team of roughly 150 technology professionals in a datacenter in the finance area. During that time, I often challenged myself, both as a leader and as an analyst. However, I love technology, I am curious, and I study trends a lot. But I also love people. I believe that an IT leader who can communicate in the language of their team can collaborate for better results.
In 2021, I had an opportunity to work with technology in the world of fintech companies. I was able to refine, develop, and implement a lot of the DevOps culture that I had only heard of in books before. I could acquire a great background in leading observability teams and later dive into the world of product engineering.
Rox: Tell us about your involvement with DevOpsDays and other community endeavors - how do you personally help promote DevOps in Brazil?
Ana Carla: In Brazil, there are opportunities for events in technology, especially in the Southeast region. I reside in the Brazilian Northeast and I have always wanted to provide this region with networking opportunities for tech professionals from all around the world. Promoting face-to-face events with people from the local technology community was a great victory for me and for the team organizing DevOpsDays Fortaleza. Preparing a quality event demands a lot of time and dedicated work from its team members and I am honored to be part of it.
In addition to helping organize DevOpsDays at Fortaleza, I also help organize the Pyladies Fortaleza community. This community is in my heart. The cause is authentic: to get more women into technology through the Python language. Of course the pandemic impacted events in Fortaleza, and I'm really looking forward to the day we can all be learning and celebrating together.
Rox: What drew you to tech?
Ana Carla: Technology happened to me by accident, because we, as women, are not raised to be in the world of science. My childhood dream was to become a lawyer. However, when I was preparing for the university entrance exams, I included the option to get into tech. So it happened!
At the beginning, it was very complicated to get into the programming logic mindset. I honestly believe that this world was not built for me, but my mom was an encouraging person in my life and she always instilled in my brothers and I to never give up. I am extremely happy to have had the opportunity to live with a strong and determined woman. She pushed me to keep going.
One day, I came home to an AMD 486 Windows 95 – I’m showing my age – but I started to become acquainted with technology. In my first semester of college, I started an internship, because I didn't see how what I had learned at the university could be applied to work. I came to the conclusion that there is still a gap between college and work. I really believe that the world needs to bridge these two environments for more innovation.
Rox: You’re currently at Hash - can you tell us what Hash does? How are you enjoying working there?
Ana Carla: I work as a Product Engineering Manager. At Hash, the company’s focus is to put people first. Because of that, I can work in an environment that encourages creativity and inclusion of solutions, which in the technology world, is very gratifying!
Rox: What area of DevOps excites you the most?
Ana Carla: I am in love with observability. Understanding behaviors, gaining insights through metrics, learning how users leverage our application, and making experiences more satisfying enchants me. In the cloud, where the complexity is bigger, where not everything that is expected occurs, observability makes all the difference.
Rox: If you could go back and do it all over again, what advice would you give your younger self, in regards to your career?
Ana Carla: Learn to program, no matter the language. I believe that we should also teach programming to children in school. I know that this movement has started, but it’s still in its infancy, especially here in Brazil.
Programming is not just for you to be a software developer – it helps you in any area you choose for your career. The brains that learn the logic of programming grow.
Rox: What has your experience been like, as a woman in tech?
Ana Carla: I have been working with technology since 1988. I live in a male-dominated world, and I experience both bad times and good times. I could write a book about all the stories I have!
I think that my path is very close to the story of many other women in technology. Imposter syndrome accompanied me for a long time. Once in a while, it comes back to haunt me, but I always have women around who encourage me and show me my qualities. It is very important for women who are beginning in this world to have a network of support.
Communities help a lot. They empower, embrace, and support. Recently, I read a quote published by KCDChennai2022: "Women are the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world." I absolutely believe this quote, but we must emphasize, empower, and promote women in technology to occupy their space.
Rox: Do you have any advice for other women looking to start a career in technology?
Ana Carla: Don't be afraid to try. Surround yourself with other women in technology and build a support system. Involve yourself in a local community. Mistakes are part of the process, but you can always readjust. Ask questions when you don't get it. Don't be embarrassed. Nothing can stop you from following your dreams except you.
Rox: Is there anything exciting coming down the pipeline for you?
Ana Carla: Learning more about GCP and open telemetry. Spoiler: in 2022, we will have DevOpsDays Fortaleza in person!
Rox: Anything else you’d like to share?
Ana Carla: Technology is for everyone. There is no reason why women can't succeed in this world. Every one of us can help change the status quo if we mentor beginners. I believe that this is a movement that can change and build up momentum if each one of us does our part.