In 2019, after 15 years working mainly for the oil & gas industry I made a 180 degree turn and started a new chapter as a Content Manager at Cognizant Softvision. I was 39 years old starting a new career, and expected to be the only “non dev” at lunch, but I soon learned I was sharing the table with a lawyer, a yoga teacher, an accountant and an anthropologist turned software engineer.
I was curious about the phenomenon and decided to start asking my colleagues if they had teammates who had switched careers to the digital world. My journalistic instinct was right. I quickly verified that guilds truly are talent hubs in every sense of the word; I just didn’t expect them to be so rich and varied.
A family transition
Jessica Francavilla quickly answered me back. She’s a Frontend Developer based in Cognizant Softvision’s studio in Buenos Aires and the middle child of three siblings who switched to the digital world. Jessica was invited by a friend to start working part time as a game tester while studying to become an architect.
But the more Jessica was trained, the less interesting her classes and projects at university became. By the end of 2010, Jessica abandoned school before graduation and started studying programming-related courses. It was a tough decision she never regretted.
“It was love at first sight. I just couldn’t believe the focus was not on my experience but on my willingness to grow. Also, everything I learned in my previous career about design and color theory has always been very useful – it helps me develop opinions and decisions on visual communication with fundamentals,” she says.
Jessica’s career switch sparked an interest for her brother, Emiliano. Three years ago he followed her path and started coding after working for more than a decade as a radio and TV operator. Finally, their sister Paola took her first steps as a senior analyst at Cognizant two months ago while completing a Master in Science of Textile Chemistry in Portugal.
I was looking for a story and found three! And that was only the beginning.
In 100 Meters, Change Career
If you’ve ever successfully reached your destination using a Facebook, Audi, Mercedes Benz or BMW map on your car, you can thank our Senior Project Manager, Ricardo Cerdá. After graduating with a degree in Geography from Buenos Aires University, Ricardo worked for almost 11 years creating digital maps and managing projects for a technology company.
By the time he was reaching expert-level status, Ricardo’s professional GPS recalculated and led him to a new destination: software development. He was drawn-in by his desire to be in the place where things happen. “I knew it was going to be a big change, but I never doubted my abilities. I believe that if there is something that depends on me, it is only a matter of time until I succeed,” he adds.
A Challenge for Curious Minds
Everyday is a new adventure in the IT industry. This is something I’ve learned after a year and a half working in the industry. And that seems to be a magnet for people who tend to get bored doing repetitive jobs. Pablo Fernández is one of those inquiring minds. Planning to become an accountant, he started working on the administrative side of a water heater company and then moved to a digital marketing agency as a content manager.
“I realized that I was always doing the same tasks and didn’t want that for the rest of my life,” Pablo points out. In 2017 he started as a QA test analyst at a tech company, vowing to never stop chasing bugs, and today he’s an active Cognizant Softvision QA engineer.
Something similar happened to Gustavo Petruzzi after seven years working for a financial company. Gustavo, another Softvisioner from the studio in Buenos Aires, discovered programming and realized he wanted to be a developer. “At the beginning I was frightened, I was about to make a big jump to a world I didn’t know anything about. But luckily everything went well,” the front end developer concludes.
From Patients to Partners
Nicoleta Grosu was a dentist for 16 years in Romania before beginning her IT journey. She loved her profession but, in order to maintain her career, it became necessary to gain a lot of non-medical knowledge. That was when she asked herself, “Do I learn these business-related things that I’m not the least bit interested in or should I make a change?”
Before discovering that IT was the best career option for her, Nicoleta was stressed, anxious and uncertain about which direction she should head. After making her decision, it took her almost a year to get hired for her first job, but she never gave up.
“Now that I am a full-time software tester at the Cluj Napoca studio, the biggest challenge has been adjusting to working with a team after many years working independently. I am on my way, still learning. It’s never too late to begin something new, and it’s always a good idea to keep learning, evolving and pursuing your goals,” the QA engineer reveals.
To my surprise, Nicoleta was not the only one coming from the health industry. The moment I discovered Deepika Sharma was a health coach I understood perfectly why we enjoy talking so much about wellness. But how did she become a senior business analyst working in the Austin, Texas studio? Her story starts in Africa and India where Deepika began her career working with non-profits after completing her first masters in community resource management.
In 2008 Deepika moved to the US to study for an MBA and joined a tech company in a very demanding role. “I could see my health being impacted due to the continuous stressful environment and poor lifestyle choices. I took this as an opportunity to understand how to overcome and lead a healthy lifestyle and dedicated myself to become a certified health coach,” she mentions.
Her personal journey motivated Deepika to share her learnings and started an entrepreneurship to help moms and moms-to-be to manage their health and wellness. With a background in business and the knowledge of how to create a product from scratch, she was ready for another challenge. Deepika wanted to use her experience to embark on a career in product management.
At only 36 years old, Deepika has walked a rich and meaningful professional path. “I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to experience such diverse careers in this short life and the ability to bring those experiences to building digital products which can help connect with our users and have a more meaningful and long-lasting impact.”
A Place for Extroverts
Everybody knows Guillermo Murano and Clara Guerrero at the Buenos Aires studio. You can always count on them to participate in a marketing campaign, to deliver a presentation in a meetup or to simply lift the spirits of their colleagues. Their friendly and outgoing personalities defies the stereotype of the introvert programmer avoiding eye contact.
Let’s take a look into their stories.
As a child, Guillermo had fun coding using Turbo Pascal, a software development system released in the ‘80s. His first job was cooking bread and pastries at a small family bakery, and after finishing school he wired telephone lines and networks while studying electronics engineering. Later on, Guillermo worked on machines at a lottery company; by that time he’d already started studying computer sciences.
Today, Guillermo is a talented .Net community lead at Cognizant Softvision, a position where he takes advantage of his varied background. “Having worked directly with customers gave me the tools to better understand how to interact and deal with conflicts and how to be amenable to both customer and partner needs,” he sums up.
After finishing highschool, Clara got her dream job as a teenager: game tester. Then she started studying to get a degree in Human Resources, but deep within felt something was missing. “I guess I fell in love right away with the IT industry. Being a QA analyst was always so fun and interesting, the IT world challenges me constantly to keep up to date with new technologies and I find that fascinating,” Clara explains.
For Clara, being part of the QA team makes her feel proud of herself. “I feel accomplished about the fact I’m responsible for delivering the best piece of software within my reach. And when the team involved provides awesome feedback about your job, that motivates you even more to keep doing what you’re doing.”
Moving Inside the IT Universe
When writing content for steel and mining companies during my career, I thought the IT industry was about mobile, software, AI and computers. Once inside, I discovered it is such a huge universe that engineers can move from one business to another, leaving a whole culture for an entirely new one. Anjanette Houser and Tony Giovannini did just that. They met making video games and then switched to digital advertising before becoming product managers at Cognizant Softvision’s studio in Austin.
“I wanted to get away from working for a couple of years on something that you might see in the bargain bin six months after release and do something that still appealed to my technical experience,” Tony reflects.
Moving to the digital world was the opportunity to face new challenges, technologies and ways of working. Nevertheless, his 15 years of experience taught Tony that delivering a great web or mobile product is very similar to delivering a great game. “You are telling a story with your product,” he compares.
The gaming industry is demanding, and after dedicating more than 100 hours a week for nine months before an official launch, Anjanette decided she needed a shift on her career. So after the game shipped and the team was laid off, she found a path into advertising. From there, it was a natural transition into product management.
My father has always said, “everything you learn will be helpful someday.” This proved to be especially true in Anjanette’s case. “Turns out, my background in managing game development chaos and working so closely with each member of design, development and QA provided me a strong foundation and understanding of how things need to happen to come together to create a digital product under the most pressing of circumstances.”
A Magnet for New Talent
After a decade and a half walking into blast furnaces, climbing cranes and wearing a helmet, safety goggles and booties, I found my place was working alongside Cognizant Softvision pods, thinking agile, failing fast and always learning.
There seems to be a special attraction to the digital world for creative, curious and innovative people looking for new solutions. We can only expect something fantastic to come out from that unique mix of backgrounds, resumés and life experiences. I’m glad that, like my colleagues, I had the courage to jump into this amazing adventure.