To celebrate International Women’s Day that took place on 8th March 2019, we are showcasing some of K2’s inspirational female leaders. This series of blogs will introduce you to some of the women that help make K2 the successful company that it is.
In this blog we meet Zaidy Ramirez, Chief Technology Officer:
1. What is your professional background?
Back in the days when I was a teenager in “deepest darkest Peru” (and no, this doesn’t come from a Paddington Bear tale, it’s for real), I went to Santa Rosa School in Trujillo, a school for ladies only and run by Catholic nuns. Most of the girls at the school came from low economic backgrounds.
The Headmistress, a great woman and leader, saw the need to provide these young girls with an opportunity to follow some type of higher education. She implemented three vocational programs within the school – Accounting, Languages and IT. The students had to only give 5 Soles (£1) per month for materials, but all computers, infrastructure and specialist teachers were provided. Each program ran for three years and classes were delivered on weekends and summer holidays.
Under my mother’s insistence, at the age of 13 I joined the IT program and I learned how to program in Pascal and FoxPro for the first time in my life. I loved the logical mental process to every solution. Three years later I got a vocational degree in programming (again under the persistent influence of my mother).
This degree served me to be accepted at Brunel University in West London within the Computer Science undergraduate program. It even allowed me to jump “Year 0” (required for foreign students) and go straight into the first year of higher education.
Thanks to Santa Rosa School and it’s vocational education, many girls have managed to undertake further professional careers, which in other conditions we would not have achieved. I hope this note serves as “thank you” to all the nuns and teachers (of which 90% are female) for all your initiatives, help and support.
2. What challenges have you encountered during your career and how did you tackle them?
There have been many challenges – language for start (my native language is Spanish), then being a woman who can code. The latter is not usual and was a stigma within the teams I joined earlier in my career. However, I never felt or considered myself to be hindered by the ‘bumps in the road’. I always tried to find positives within any negatives and instead turn them into lessons.
3. What achievement are you most proud of in your career to date?
I was most proud to be named Chief Technology Officer at the age of 32. Although there was still much to learn, I was given the opportunity by K2 to help the Executive Board make decisions and steer the future of internal technology support within the company.
4. Who is your greatest inspiration or role model?
My role model is definitively my mum. She never gave up when she had to face life on her own after suffering a difficult divorce without a career and two young kids to support. She never gave up, although I do remember that sometimes we only had rice and a fried egg to eat. With no other income, she taught herself to knit and created her own company, knitting school jumpers for the neighbouring schools. She became very successful and managed to bring food to the table and an education to both of her children.
5. What do you think has made you the leader you are today?
Facing problems head-on and finding the best positive outcome have made me what I am today.
6. What are the three main traits that make a leader successful in your opinion?
A leader should recognise and nurture the talents of each member of their team. They should also be self-driven and maintain a positive outlook.
7. What do you do to ensure a good work/life balance? How do you unwind?
This is a hard one, as I have to travel quite often. I try to get one of my family members to accompany me while I go abroad to spend some time with the people I love as I work and travel.
When I am at home, the best way to free my mind is to go walking or running with my dogs. They keep me sane with their daily walks, which have a timed routine.
8. What is the best (or most valuable) piece of advice you have been given?
Be the energy you want to attract.
Ottilie Wood, Marketing Executive based at K2 Partnering Solutions HQ in London.