This spotlight is part of a series of posts to amplify exceptional Latina talent in the workplace and tech industry, in collaboration with our partners.
Spotlight Partner: Bloomberg
- María Rivera
Software Engineer with Bloomberg Law’s Data Architecture & Infrastructure Team
- Cindy Juarez
Senior Software Engineer with Bloomberg’s Trade Automation & Execution Group
1. Tell us about yourself. How did you get to where you are today?
María: I was born and raised in Puerto Rico, specifically in Naranjito. I’m the middle child of five siblings. Since I was young, I really enjoyed sports and math. I studied Computer Engineering at the University of Puerto Rico in Mayagüez.
Cindy: In college, I studied economics and hated it. But luckily, I fell in love with computers and film. After graduating from Dartmouth University as a Film & Digital Arts major, I found myself coding projects after work and realized I should switch careers into tech. I worked for a consulting firm for two and a half years, which gave me a breadth of experience with different technologies. I joined Bloomberg to deepen my knowledge about specific technologies and rediscovered my love for finance.
2. What inspired you to pursue a career in the tech industry?
María: When I was around 12 years old, we were lucky enough to get a computer that I was able to play with. My dad had a business where they sold computers for 20 years. Then, my older brother went to college to study Computer Engineering. The fact that I liked to solve problems gave me the motivation to pursue the same degree.
I remember not being 100% sure about it though, so the summer before my last year, I took a YouTube training where I learned the basics of programming using C#. During that course, I wrote my first programs (tic-tac-toe and connect four) using simple buttons, colors, and a lot of ‘if’ and ‘else.’ I found this experience to be very fun and challenging, which confirmed that this was a good fit for me.
Cindy: I gravitated toward tech because of its impact on workflows and processes in every business. However, I didn’t consider becoming a software engineer until I met a Latina in Tech who urged me to join the Women Who Code community. It was the first time I met other women and Latinas in software, which helped me realize I could be happy and successful in tech.
3. As a software engineer at Bloomberg , what have been some of the most memorable and impactful projects you’ve worked on so far?
For the past six months, I’ve been working on an infrastructure project that will enable engineers from the search team to improve the BLAW website’s search capabilities. During this project, my main focus was working on the infrastructure to move the data and ensure the data was correct. In doing this, I had the opportunity to work with a number of different technologies for the first time, as well as the opportunity to lead the system validation part of the project. This was a great experience, since I had both the opportunity to design and implement it.
Cindy: While migrating onto a new platform, we took the opportunity to re-architect our codebase. A workflow typically takes about one month to accomplish. In a herculean push to complete the migration, several teams joined the effort, and we finished 80 workflows in just six months. Thanks to the time we spent designing and automating the code creation, we easily onboarded 20+ engineers to an unfamiliar codebase and met our deadline. My project team even made custom shirts with our team logo to commemorate the occasion. It was a positive project experience for both Product and Engineering.
4. How has your culture (and/or other identity marker) shaped you as a software engineer?
María: My culture plays an important role in how I relate to co-workers and how my personality shows up. I’m usually very happy, excited, friendly, and positive. I’m always smiling and am usually the first person to say ‘good morning.’ This is how I grew up and this good nature personifies the people where I come from.
Cindy: Latinx families do everything together; even the kids tag along. We are incredibly team-oriented, and we form strong team cultures in the workplace because we’re quick to pitch in and proactive about working together. I’ve had to learn to self-promote and choose work that benefits both myself and my team, but my culture has ultimately helped me build strong team bonds and contribute to the happiness of my team. As a software engineer, you are only as strong as your team.
5. Whether it’s grappling with cultural expectations or navigating workplace biases, we fight through many challenges as Latinx women. What’s one you’ve faced as you’ve progressed in your career?
María: One challenge has been to learn how to deal with biases, specifically in this industry, where women are still a minority. More than once while doing interviews, someone has assumed I was the HR representative in a room. People say something like ‘When is the engineer going to arrive?’ or ‘Are you the HR representative?’ This is something I have learned to manage by very politely stating my name and my current role. It is very interesting how people still look surprised and immediately apologize.
Cindy: As a minority, we are recognizable, which means we need to brand ourselves quickly as strong engineers and leaders. We strive for excellence because we represent our race and gender and are afraid to encourage negative biases against us. This ingrains in us a fear of failure. We become scared to ask simple clarifying questions and look ignorant. We heavily test and create backup plans for every scenario. And we are afraid to take risks. I force myself to ask simple clarifying questions to prevent miscommunication and help the project go smoothly. While I still try my best to avoid bad situations, I focus on taking charge and managing any problems that might arise (which they inevitably do).
It should be okay to fail, and it’s essential to experience failure. It means you are pushing yourself and growing. If I’m on the battlefield, I don’t want someone who’s never faced a problem. I want a seasoned veteran who has seen it all. Failure is valuable.
6. Looking to the future, what inspires you, and what initiatives are you most excited about right now?
María: I’m involved in a lot of Bloomberg’s initiatives to recruit more Latinx engineers. We are working hard in different ways to have a positive impact on students in our community, from helping them develop their interviewing skills to providing them with the opportunity to interview with us. Another exciting thing I’m involved with is the Bloomberg Latinx Community in Tech (BLC in Tech) group. Our goal is to ensure that when more Latinx engineers join the firm, they will have a strong network and opportunities to grow.
Cindy: As the population grows, most industries don’t have the infrastructure to handle the capacity. So the problems and business opportunities we face in automating those processes and managing that data are fascinating. I’m excited to see Bloomberg’s diversity initiatives play a role in that space.
7. What’s one piece of career advice you’ll NEVER EVER forget?
María: Accept new challenges even when you feel you are not 100% ready.
Cindy: “What would BOB do?” Bob is an actual person at Bloomberg, but this phrase applies to not taking anything personally. If there is a problem, take your emotions out of it and pretend it is happening to someone else. The concept applies well when trying to land your first job in tech. Don’t take rejection personally and keep applying to other companies. I know exceptional engineers who applied to more than three hundred companies before getting their first job offer.
8. How do you reset when you’re in a funk? (ex: What song do you play? Do you go for a walk? Do you take a nap? Do you call a friend?)
María: My reset is usually speaking to my brother, going for a run, and listening to music (especially music that reminds me of good memories).
Cindy: I love running and listening to music. It’s the fastest way to clear my head and it’s very motivational. If I have a problem, I’ll always have a clear solution by the end of my run!
9. Any podcasts or blog recommendations?
María: There are three books that I really learned a lot from:
- “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg
- “Atomic Habits” by James Clear
- “Ask For It” by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever
- Comic: XKCD (https://xkcd.com) is great for tech humor
- Book: “Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds” by David Goggins is an inspirational book I read whenever I feel down
- Blog: If you want to learn more about the kinds of tech challenges and initiatives our engineers work on, visit Tech At Bloomberg (https://www.TechAtBloomberg.com)
10. Is there anyone you’d like to shout out for their support along your career journey?
María: A lot of people have helped me in my career, but there is one person who has always been there since the time when I struggled at college. He always showed and reminded me that I was capable and good at this. He always pushed me forward. His name is Luis Rivera. He is one of my younger brothers and also a Software Engineer. At the beginning of our careers, we were able to work at the same company. Even to this date, he is still my rock when I need an opinion or I’m making a big decision in my life.
Cindy: When others say “you can’t do it,” “it’s challenging,” or other deterring, but well-meaning phrases, my twin sister Jenny Juarez would say, “don’t listen to them; we’ll do it together.” That kind of support is one in a million. In addition, my husband Ethan Dunn is also in tech and he gives me a very different perspective, which I value. He goes out of his way to tell me how I impress him with my technical and leadership skills.