8 March 2019

Being a woman in a software world (working for Kaleido)

International woman’s day: what does that mean for me? What does that mean for me as a woman working in technology, working in software, which is a male-driven world, for a medical device company which makes the smallest and lightest insulin pump in the world: Kaleido. Well, let’s start from the beginning.

After high school I was in two minds about wanting to be a veterinarian, becoming a pianist or studying mathematics and physics. I eventually chose the sciences because to be honest, a day without an equation or a science problem to solve was not a fulfilling day to me. A day without music is not a good day either, but music is a good thing to do on the side. I did a short technical study to become a technician in applied physics. This was followed by a study Applied Physics in the UK and pass an exam to start a master in Electronical Engineering. I got accepted and graduated with a Master Degree in Digital Communication and Signal Processing in 2000.

New goal, new role

I started in my first job as software developer in France in the same year, specializing in audio processing for 15 years. Almost four years ago I came to work for ViCentra, the company behind Kaleido, as an embedded software developer. We were just starting to take over software ourselves, after having contracted it out before that. When I started at ViCentra I made my ambitions clear. To become a project manager. Within two years, thanks to the trust of ViCentra’s management, this new role was confirmed.

I love our company and our attitude. The hands-on/startup mentality, where if you see something that needs to happen, you do it yourself. I love working with so many people who are younger than me and the energy they bring with them to our office. I appreciate the trust that was put in me, being a single mom of two, living alone abroad. Our CEO back then saw this as an asset, not as a limitation.

My managers at ViCentra have always done their best to push me and challenge me. They are, super supportive in tough personal times. ViCentra is a company that treats you like a person, and not a resource. For me, that makes a huge difference in the relationship I build with my employer. It’s a win-win to be seen as a professional, but also as a mother who has other obligations as well. This, and the healthy work-life balance, make me want to do the best for the company and go the extra mile. It also makes me a happier mom, a happier person and therefore a happier and more motivated employee.

My work matters

The thing I love most about working for Kaleido is that my work matters. It matters on a bigger scale for humanity and that adds a lot of value for me. One very special thing for me is also the people: extremely dedicated, passionate, warm and caring people. In good times and bad times, we look after each other and support each other. There is a strong team spirit within the ViCentra family. It’s a good thing to work in a place where you look forward to be with your co-workers. I spend more time with them than with my own family.

Better balance

What was I writing about? Oh! International women’s day. This year’s theme is #betterbalance. I’m lucky to work in the Netherlands because I think they have a wonderful culture of balance. A balance between work and family, but also a balance between genders in the involvement of raising children. But like in a lot of other countries, women are still underrepresented in management positions. We’re hyper critical on ourselves. Discussing this with a girlfriend of mine she told me that usually men will apply to a job if they have 60% of the qualifications, while women will apply when they have 150% of qualifications. Be brave! If you have those 60% – go – learn – thrive! You can do it! Ambition is not a dirty word – make your ambitions known, loud and clear.

When it comes to #betterbalance at ViCentra I think we treat all employees completely equally when it comes to gender. Although we are a med tech company, I think more than half of the employees are women. ViCentra rewards competencies and values the fact that a happy employee is a better employee. They encourage people to have a healthy work/life balance. Male and female.

For all of our female readers: find yourself great mentors that believe in you as a whole – as a person, as an employee, as a parent or as anything else you are. It will make all the difference. But also be your own mentor: look at what you’re good at and take the rest as a possibility to learn and to grow. And lastly: life’s not a competition – lift the people around you up, give back what you have learned.

About Marianne

My name is Marianne, 43 years old and, in no order of importance, a musician, a mother of 2 girls and stepmother of another girl, an embedded software developer, wife to my husband Tim, French, living in the Netherlands for 11 years and a ViCentra employee for 4 years.  My secret nerdy goal is to learn Wikipedia by heart, meaning I can spend quite an amount of time scrolling through Wikipedia pages, being curious about basically everything.