Karla Ceron works as an IT project manager in the software and robot industry, she has been living in Austria for almost three years but originates from El Salvador in Central America. She is an industrial engineer with over 6 years of experience in project management in the IT sector, as well as extensive experience in business strategy design, process design, marketing, website design projects, also to implement high performance team development. Karla considers herself a very social, results-oriented and proactive person who is above all very entrepreneurial with interests in technology, AI, networking, women’s empowerment, project management, innovation.
How did you become a woman in tech – what is your background?
I started my journey in the IT world by accident. In one of the companies where I started working I was initially in the process area as a process analyst, then I started working on designing process automation for a specific project in the financial department using Oracle solutions. I was assigned as a project manager and I had to design technical requirements for the developers, which is when my passion for the IT area began. I started to become more and more interested in the IT sector At that time, we started to work using agile project management methodology and I started to use my experience as an industrial engineer in IT and have been working as IT project manager since then.
What obstacles and fears did you have to face on your way of becoming who you are today?
Each of us has a different story and faces different fears in our journey. As an IT project manager, leading a team of developers in 3 different countries was extremely challenging for me, because I had to earn their respect and support. What also added to this is that I felt like I needed to earn the respect of the team members as both the only woman in the team and as one of its youngest members. It was furthermore challenging working remotely, implementing new ways of working, which from their point of view, were sometimes difficult to accept because of my age and gender.
The second big challenge for me in this journey was to leave my life, my family and my job in order to start following another dream: to live and work in Europe. I had friends in Austria who helped motivate me and I ended up making the decision to go there. I arrived in Vienna with no knowledge of German but with the aim of building my career in Austria.
Learning German has been and remains one of the biggest challenges for me in my new environment. After arriving in Austria, I started right away with trying to find a job. I applied to literally more than 100 different job offers over the course of a year with no luck at finding a job. While I had a lot of interviews, nothing worked out. At this time, I started to become afraid of not having a chance to continue working as an IT project manager. It was like starting from scratch. I am grateful for my friends and family, who I call “my angels”, who supported me in my struggles until I got to my current job.
What was the reaction of your personal environment?
My genetic family and my angels, my second family here in Austria, have been my biggest supporters. Both families have enabled me to grow and achieve my dreams in this new environment.
What would you do differently the next time (on this path)?
What helped me most to get to where I am today is my perseverance. Despite all difficulties and obstacles in my path, I continued because I believed in myself and had the support of my family and friends. It would have been easy to return to El Salvador when things got hard, but I kept going.
Looking back, I think that focussing more on languages when I was younger would have been a massive advantage in my path. Everything else has come into my life at the time it had to be.
Do you have any recommendations for young women who are interested in a career in tech?
DO IT! I believe that through collective empowerment, the technology communities can create impact in society. Look for an inspirational and motivational role model. We have a network of brilliant women in technology and together, we can motivate girls and women interested in technology to achieve their dreams and strive for gender equality. Never think that it is too late, or that you can’t or don’t have the competencies for a career in IT. The only thing you need is motivation and passion.