Maria Vallejo gives us her journey with technology, the challenges she faces, and her excitement of Cloud offering at Caplin.
What sparked your interest in technology?
I have been exposed to technology since I was very young. My father used to work with computers, he loved photography and used to play video games with us. He passed this over to my sister and me. I have been interested in technology and how everything works since I was small.
Did you study technology at university?
I knew I always wanted to do something with technology so I chose to study telecommunication engineering back in Spain. I really liked radiocommunication and how the data gets transmitted through from one place to another. While I was studying I discovered other areas of interest, like programming.
You moved to London quite early on in your career?
The job market in Spain for graduates wasn’t great. Most companies wanted experienced people. After working in Gibraltar for a couple of years, my husband and I decided to move to London. He found a job before we moved, then I started looking and I found Caplin.
How would you describe your current job?
I deal with all types of complex and mission-critical issues raised by our customers, which are the banks. I focus mainly on the 2nd/3rd level of support, investigating from configuration issues to connectivity problems or bugs. We keep communications open with our customers, as we need to work in parallel, collect the correct information for the investigation, perform root cause analysis, sometimes replicate their issues or do live sessions with them and investigate the data they provide us or perform code reviews to confirm if there is anything not working as expected. We have to meet our SLAs. As we are working with banks, time can be very sensitive and sometimes we deal with critical issues where the services need to be restored as soon as possible. Being able to work under pressure in those scenarios is key as no one day is the same.
How do you find working with so many different clientele?
I really like this part of my job because we have really good relationships with most of our customers as we need them to work in parallel with us. We try to be as transparent as possible on the issues so our communication remains open so that when we request information we receive it quickly, especially when it’s a critical issue. Usually, we talk with their development departments, which allows us to discuss the issues on a technical level and talk them through the process of solving the problem.
What would you say are some of the challenges of being a woman in technology that you found?
I wouldn’t say just in technology but in general, sometimes you have to make a choice between your job and your family. That has been the biggest challenge for me, being a mum and having a full-time job. I’ve found it extremely difficult at times to find the balance.
I had to make difficult choices regarding my career, taking into consideration my family. I will always appreciate Caplin as they were really supportive and understood my situation so they put things in place in order to allow me to have a good balance between progressing in my career and being able to spend more time with my family. I feel that many people don't have this opportunity and I have no words to thank Caplin for how supportive they are in this scenario. That’s why flexibility in a company is very important.
What would you say are some of the issues that face your role?
I believe that good communication with our customers is key for this role, as we need their cooperation in order to provide the correct information to be able to investigate issues as soon as possible.
Where do you see your career heading in the next couple of years, in the next five years?
I’m really excited about the next couple of years for Caplin as we are moving to a Cloud offering. We will be managing the services and be proactive to restore services as quickly as possible in case of a failure. I have been working on the support team for so long I find it very exciting to be part of the process to move to the cloud. It is going to be a good opportunity to change and learn something new about AWS and how to manage customers and support them in this area.
You said you’ve been at Caplin for 11 years, what has kept you there?
I ask myself the same question! The first reason is that I love my job, I enjoy doing it. Then the people working at Caplin. When I started working, I found people were very interesting and very helpful. I found they have a culture of sharing knowledge which is especially important in a support role as you sometimes need to know more about different areas and someone is always there to help. This is still the case now and even with everyone working remotely now.
Also, I always have the opportunity to learn new things, as technologies evolve and we need to do it as well. When I started, we had few customers and few products, now we have many customers and over one hundred products. I’ve noticed in myself that I have learned a lot and now with the Cloud, I'm also studying new certificates and I'm getting more knowledgeable and I really like it.
The flexibility they have given to me with my family is also very important, especially during the pandemic. My boss has been extremely supportive as well, he's always pushing for the team, and for our jobs. He's always encouraging us to be better and to learn new things which is very important.
I'm also very passionate about my work, I really like to investigate problems and be able to help customers resolve them. This makes me feel rewarded.
You mentioned that you've been working remotely for the past eight years?
When I started I was living in London, two years later, my husband found a really good job but it meant we had to move back to Spain. I really liked my job and didn't want to leave it, so they gave me the opportunity to work remotely.
In the beginning, it was difficult, pre-covid I was traveling to the office from time to time. Then we moved to Malta, and it’s been great to have that flexibility.
What advice would you give someone starting their career in technology?
It can be very difficult to start and sometimes you don't even know what you really like, but just follow your instincts and fight for what you want. Never be quiet, always ask questions. The most important thing is that you need to be happy with what you are doing. If you are not happy, then something might need to change.
Caplin is very committed to its diversity and inclusion programme to include more women and give them more opportunities. I find that the main problem is getting women to establish themselves in technologies because there is a gap. If they studied something related to technology, they will probably end up there. But I think that there is a lack of direction in schools, colleges, and universities to highlight the possibilities of a career in technology.