Daniela da Cruz, R&D Group Manager

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Early years and where you came from?

Programming wasn’t always my passion. But just because I didn’t know what was programming. I wanted to be a Math teacher but back then, in high school, my Math teacher told me that the future wasn’t bright for teachers (employment wise). So I decided to pursue something related to Math and what a wise decision it was. In 2002, I started my degree in Mathematics and Computers Science @ the University of Minho. When I started to learn about programming, I saw how beautiful it could be to combine Math with Programming. When I finished my degree I jumped into a Ph.D. in Computer Science and by the end of it, I started to do some freelancing. Since then I love to program and to think about how to solve problems (or just making life easier) with programming. Was at that time, back in 2011, that I worked as a freelancer for Checkmarx. In 2012 they hired me as a part-time employee and in 2013 as a full-time one. Then they decided to grow up the team in Portugal and suddenly we were 3, then 6, then 12, and now we are 90 and growing. I still love to teach, but now I teach Programming at Instituto Politécnico do Cávado e do Ave.

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

Basically at the university. As I mentioned, I wasn’t a tech person and thus my interest wasn’t in this area. Only at the university, my curiosity about it started to arise.

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

I manage a group of 6 development teams contributing to a product that discovers vulnerabilities in source code (Static Application Security Testing tool).
Leading such a group involves helping them to deliver a product on time and with the highest standards of quality.

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

When you see how big the impact of a product like the one we work has on the daily life of companies, you just can be proud.
You are helping (small and huge) companies being on the safe side of the hackers world.

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

1. My degree, more than teaching me how to program, thought me how to think in order to solve problems. A paper and a pencil were always my first tools to solve a problem. Only after having a draft I go for the computer.
2. My Ph.D. helped me to organize ideas, focus on what is important, thought me how to do proper research and put them in a paper (published in several conferences and journals).
3. My experience as a freelancer gave me the ability to work with people all around the world (Australia, UAE, Israel, France, UK, EUA, etc).
People with different requirements, goals and ideas. Thought me how to be flexible (also in working hours) and multi-disciplinary.
All of this gave me the ability to communicate with people in an efficient way, to help them to go through their challenges and make them succeed.

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

Be focused. Don’t want to learn everything at once.
Decide one thing to start learning from and engage to it.
The amount of information nowadays is overwhelming. Choose a couple of sources of information and stick into it. Later on, you can broaden your source of information and topics.

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

Usually, I wake up at 7, go to the gym (at home), take a shower, wake up the kids and husband and we take breakfast altogether. Then I drop one at the school and go to the office around 9/9h30. I start by answering emails in order to get the rest of the day for the team (meetings, decisions, etc). I try to get some free time as well for programming, as I still love to do it, behind managing the group. At the end of the day, family time: play with the kids, make dinner, play a bit more with them, read a story and put them in bed. Once they fall asleep, either we see a Nextflix series or sometimes I work for some time to have the day ahead organized.

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

“Don’t try to give 100% in everything. It is not possible.”
And that’s completely true. You need to focus and choose what you want to be 100% in each phase of your life.

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

Google and email :)

👉Find Daniela on LinkedIn

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A portrait of the women that help make the difference in the Portuguese Tech Industry. Check our speaker's list: http://bitly.com/pwitList

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