Catarina Macedo, Program Manager at Xbox

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Early years and where you came from?

I have been passionate about gaming for as long as I remember and games were exactly what sparked my interest in technology. So besides playing them, I wanted to learn more about how they are made and how I could be part of this industry. Alongside competing in eSports when it wasn’t even a word, I chose Software Engineering in Universidade do Minho when it came the time to decide what I would focus my studies on. I also pursued the Computer Graphics major during my Master’s in Universidade do Minho and later moved to Instituto Superior Técnico to focus on Game Development, which is a major they offer.

How were you introduced to the world of the Portuguese tech industry?

I got my first internship when I had just finished my Bachelor’s in Software Engineer and wanted to get some real-world, hands-on experience. That was in DevScope in Oporto as a developer and it was the absolute best experience as a first job as one can hope for. People there were amazing, super talented and had loads of patience to deal with me and my learning — great mentoring throughout the whole year I was there. I then left so I could properly finish my Masters but still miss the company to this day. While I was doing my Master Thesis, and through being part of the Microsoft Student Partner program, I got an offer to be an intern in Microsoft Portugal, to manage that same MSP program. It was such an awesome experience that I never left Microsoft again! After the internship I joined the MACH (Microsoft Academy for College Hires) program as a Support Engineer in Windows Core and High Availability, and have moved to Redmond (Microsoft HQ), USA last year to be a Technical Evangelist for US Gaming partners. 2 years ago I moved to the role of my dreams — being a Program Manager in Xbox.

Walk me through your work and what you are doing now in the tech industry.

Right now I am a Program Manager in Xbox (for Xbox Live services), working at Microsoft HQ, in Redmond, USA. While I was previously working with Azure, CaaP and OSS, right now I’ve moved to more of a product management role where all of my previous experience as a developer and technical evangelist is still leveraged. I own several feature areas for Xbox Live, and in each of those, I and the team have to solve problems that come up daily, work on improvements, build the future strategy for our products and keep us on track with our plans for each release cycle. It’s an incredibly exciting time to be working in the gaming industry and I particularly have the opportunity to work on a product that’s been part of my life for 15 years and feel so passionate about. I am also co-leading our Women in Gaming initiative with the goal of creating a welcoming, safe and fun place workplace and industry for everyone.

What part of what you do, you love the most?

The thing I love the most is being able to influence a product I love with the feedback I gather from all of our users and fans. Our team is very community-focused and being able to do what’s best for them is empowering and powerful. It’s amazing that the work we do is used by millions of people around the world and has such an impact on them. I love hearing the stories of how people got connected, made friends and have a great time while on our platforms.

How do you think that your background and knowledge impact the way you approach your work in the Portuguese tech industry?

I have left the Portuguese tech industry since I moved to the US, but while I was there I definitely felt that the amount of experience I previously had with gaming and game development as well as knowing a lot of the pioneers of this industry in Portugal had a super positive impact in my work. We were able to work together to build great things. I’m a big believer and advocate for constant growth, so I love to challenge myself constantly which has helped immensely throughout my career.

What advice do you have for young women that want to get into tech and don’t know where to start?

The most important thing is to not give up on your passion and believe that there are many paths to achieve your goals — and not one is better than the other. There are a ton of free resources online that can help you kickstart your learning in whatever your passion lies. Set a very realistic goal for yourself with a very realistic timeline, invest time in it, and you will be surprised at how much you can achieve! Attend events and get inspired by the great people who are already doing the work you want to do in the future. Don’t be afraid to reach out.

Walk me through a day in your life as a Portuguese women in tech.

I wake up and treat myself with a mandatory breakfast, feed my cat Noob (he’s the best), and drive to the office. My schedule is usually pretty hectic with meetings most of the time — between standups, meetings for alignment on all the different projects, collaborating with all the different teams and orgs, that’s usually how I spend most of my hours. Other than that, I also do a fair share of technical spec writing, pitching decks and work on our Women in Gaming initiatives and events. I do my best to keep my inbox tidy. I reserve an hour at the end of the day, 2 days a week, for my personal projects, mentoring or stretch assignments that I volunteer myself for. Once I am done with work, daily workout, cook some dinner and play Xbox or PC for a few hours.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

“Say yes until you can’t say no.”

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

OneNote takes care of my life (I am a forgetful person who needs to keep track of everything). WhatsApp has been my connecting app to friends and family in Portugal when I moved to the US. Twitter is my useful addiction.
If games can be considered, Gears of War and Halo have been my loyal partner in life.

👉Find Catarina on LinkedIn and on Twitter

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