Category Archives: Uncategorized

Things to keep in mind before adding a Software Dependency to your project

By Agustin Aliaga, Mobile Developer at Santex

In my work experience, one basic thing I learned about software engineering is that you don’t need to “reinvent the wheel” every time you want to achieve some functionality. Open source projects have revolutionized the way we work in that we can reutilize existing software in addition to collaborating with others devs. In the web-development ecosystem, there are plenty of frameworks and tools that already simplify things like user authentication, routes, templating (client-side and server-side), state-management, database queries, web sockets, etc. On the other hand, however, sometimes the existing solutions are just not good enough or it may be that there are no alternatives at all, but that’s a completely different story.

The ability to know when to implement the feature yourself and when to use an existing solution will be a crucial asset for your team. Adopting a new library, language or technology as a dependency to build your product without extensive research could become headache in the future, so you should always ask yourself at least these questions about it:

1. Does it meet all your needs?
Sometimes you’ll find a solution for your problem that does not cover all the specific features you need. In that case, you might have to deal with forking and extending it (if it’s an open source project), and this means greater time investments and costs. Are your team and the client prepared for this scenario?

2. Is there any documentation?
If so, is it well documented? Just as an example, one of the things I like the most about Django (web framework) is the quality they put into the docs. It’s remarkably easy to find the topics you need for the framework version you’re using. https://docs.djangoproject.com/en/.

3. Is it supported by a “big” community and/or a private company? Having a company or a community behind it helps a lot when you’re having trouble and need assistance from others. You may have to send a “help-desk” ticket (probably if it’s a paid service), find information on blogs or StackOverflow, or maybe even post a question to those sites. If you’re relying on the community to help you, your chances of being helped are proportional to the popularity of the software dependency.

4. Is it an “external service”?
If you rely on services like “Google Maps API”, “Facebook Graph API”, “Google’s Firebase”, etc. be aware that they may change in the future without notice, or they could just stop working at any time (temporarily or permanently). SaaS/BaaS solutions are great but you should think twice before setting them up as a critical piece of your system. Just as an example, read about what happened to Facebook’s Parse: (https://techcrunch.com/2016/01/28/facebook-shutters-its-parse-developer-platform/).

5. Is it actively maintained and improved?
If hosted on Github, “Pulse” and “Graphs” tabs will give you an idea of the latest activity. You probably don’t want to set up an outdated library, because it could bring retrocompatibility issues to your project. Also, if it’s constantly evolving, sometimes it could mean you’ll have to update your code repeatedly.

6. Is it tested?
Some libraries use automated tools to build and test every change that is introduced (applying continuous integration tools like Travis CI, Circle CI, etc.). This makes the library more reliable.

7. Are you compromising another dependency if you adopt this new library?
Sometimes libraries don’t play well together.

8. Will it affect your product’s performance, speed, size, etc.?
You should always take this into consideration. In the “web environment”, a giant front-end library could affect the browser’s performance and also increase network transfer times. On the back-end side, you want to avoid server overloading. In the mobile world, things get even more critical because mobile phones don’t have as many resources as a desktop computer. In Android, an app that wastes memory and CPU is a real candidate to be killed automatically by the operating system.

What about Android ?

The core-functionalities that Android brings to the table are sometimes more than enough to build simple applications. You could build an entire app by using bare Activities, Fragments, Views, AsyncTasks, Services, Content Providers, Broadcast Receivers, etc.

But in my experience, sometimes this means you’ll have to write (and then maintain) a lot of repetitive/boilerplate code. In other words, sometimes sticking to the core framework means you will have to invest more time to taking care of all the details. Some examples of libraries that made me more productive in Android development are: Retrofit, Dagger 2, and Butter Knife.

You should also know that if you add too much direct and transitive dependencies (plus your own code), you might exceed the “64K-method limit”, explained by Android documentation:

Android app (APK) files contain executable bytecode files in the form of Dalvik Executable (DEX) files, which contain the compiled code used to run your app. The Dalvik Executable specification limits the total number of methods that can be referenced within a single DEX file to 65,536—including Android framework methods, library methods, and methods in your own code. In the context of computer science, the term Kilo, K, denotes 1024 (or 2^10). Because 65,536 is equal to 64 X 1024, this limit is referred to as the ’64K reference limit’.”

If you exceed this limit, you’ll have to change your application to support “multidex”, which means it will have to load multiple dex files. This will produce higher compilation times, and also performance/loading issues in the app itself. So I’d recommend to always be careful with the dependencies that you add to your Android project.

Conclusion

I have seen these concepts apply not only to Android development (a technology I use every day at work), but to all software development in general. Every product relies on dependencies (whether it’s an OS, a service, a framework, a library or some other kind of software). The goal is to pick the best ones to maximize your productivity, without affecting your product’s performance, scalability, and capacity to evolve over time.

When (in my opinion) Not to Use Drupal

By Sebastian Gonzalez – Drupal Developer at Santex

I would like to clarify first off that I love to work with Drupal. I’ve been working with the Drupal platform for about 10 years now, and through all those years of getting frustrated over the same things, I realized something. I noticed that when certain clients or businesses had a previous project in Drupal that was successful, they would want to handle any future projects in the same way, when in reality Drupal may not have been the best tool to use.

In all these years of experience, I came across various projects and had a lot of different experiences – some very rewarding and others not so great. In some of these last projects that I didn’t think were so great, I noticed that something kept repeating. Drupal was being used for any kind of project on the simple premise that “it can do everything.”

If a client needs just any sort of app, we as developers usually say that Drupal is the solution. But what we should is is that Drupal could be the solution. Changing the message from “Drupal can do that” to “Drupal should be able to do that” is fundamental to starting any project off on the right foot.

Drupal is a CMS (Content Management System) that was intended to be a content administrator. Every page in the world has content, and when we talk about ‘content,’ we automatically think that it should be able to be handled administratively. This leads one to automatically think of a CMS like Drupal, WordPress, or Joomla. For me, the important question is what you want to do with the content. Where is this going and what is it going to be used for?

A lot of people view Drupal as a CWMS (Content Workflow Management System), and I agree with this vision. In my opinion, it makes sense to use Drupal when a business’s domain entails a lot of different types of content with multiple users who have different levels of permission. All of these users can alter the state of the content, making it fluctuate through different phases of the workflow where there aren’t annotations, reports, or emails involved.

The reality is that the vast majority of websites built using Drupal should not have used Drupal. This is not because Drupal can’t do the job, but rather because it’s a waste of all its functionalities that end up not getting used. A clear case of this is with classic brochure websites or institutional sites where the content is static and hardly changes over time. There isn’t much interaction between users beyond basic contact forms or a comments section.

Our world is currently dominated by mobile devices. Drupal was able to enter into the competition with its latest version 8, which came out in November 2016. Using and integrating components with the popular framework Symfony provides a robust back-end to facilitate API development. Drupal is jumping onto this trend with something called Headless – an architecture that uses Drupal as the back-end paired with a framework to present the data, which could be AngularJS, React.js, or any other framework.

In summary, I believe Drupal should not be used for:

  • Simple brochure websites
  • Single-purpose apps (like a chat application)
  • Gaming apps

I think Drupal should be used for:

  • News websites with multiple users
  • Multi-user publishing apps
  • Any app or website that includes workflows among people with different roles/permissions
  • A mobile version for Drupal

To conclude, here are 4 more pieces of advice:

  • Choosing one tool or another has to do with understanding the business’s control over the application or website. The more you know about the project, the greater the decision power in choosing which platform to use to meet those needs.
  • Use Drupal from the start and don’t try to switch and start using it for something else when things are not properly in place.
  • Stop saying “Drupal is the solution” and starting saying “Drupal could be the solution!”
  • Always explore alternatives because new technologies are coming out everyday.

Those are my two cents.

 

About the Author – Sebastian Gonzalez is an experienced Drupal Developer at Santex,  passionate about his work.  Sebastian is a strategic team player always willing to contribute and to solve problems.

7 Tips for Automation Testing

Luckily today, the term Automation is becoming more common and popular in the immense world of IT companies. You just have to search a little bit in the web to find hundreds or thousands of articles in all languages talking about the benefits of automated testing and how much money companies can save using it, so it is not my idea to repeat the comments of my colleagues, but rather to share some of my experiences across more than 5 years of working as a QA.

I worked on 3 giant projects: the website of a major airline, a video on-demand provider, and a security application of one of the most famous antivirus services. I also participated in small projects where manually running the same test suites every day, up to 3 times a day, made me realize how necessary and beneficial it is to automate.

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Here are 7 tips I learned from automating that I would like to share with you:

  1. The Code Reviews of other QA and/or Developers as well as those from POP or the BA are of GREAT importance.

  2. Reuse code. Writing the same code over and over again can be a waste of time when the changes in the data set are minimal.

  3. The tests have to be fail-proof, they should only fail due to errors in the product, environment, etc. and not because of a bad analysis made before creating it. This also includes the Unit Test.

  4. Ask for help. We are all proud people and it is a huge satisfaction to complete a challenging task without having to turn to someone for help, but sometimes pride translates into hours that only lead to losing time in the sprint, money for the client and the company, and can even delay the tasks of our peers.

  5. Respect good practices. When working as a team we must remember that our code can affect the code or work of others.

  6. Automated tests are not only a good tool for testers but also, when used correctly, can be very useful for developers.

  7. Adapting is very important. Sometimes because of licensing issues or for a number of other reasons, we may have to automate in a language with which we do not feel comfortable or simply do not like. Despite not enjoying it when it happened to me, I understood that the language was the right one for the software to be tested, and today I can say that at least I have some experience in other languages and technologies that will surely be useful again throughout my career.

Hopefully these tips can help testers and developers who are not yet familiar with Automation to understand more about its importance. At Santex, we are always open to sharing knowledge and listening to new experiences and opinions, so feel free to leave your thoughts on automation.

About the author: Mauricio Ardiles is an enthusiastic QA Analyst seasoned in a variety of testing skills. Strong background in automation testing and a certified Scrum Master. 

 

Trends for IT Execs and CIOs to Aniticipate

By Juan Santiago, CEO & Co-Founder of Santex

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Gartner Symposium/ITxpo is the world’s most important gathering of CIOs and Senior IT executives. Attendees gain an unbiased and insightful perspective on what the future holds for the industry. This year, Santex’s CEO Juan Santiago traveled to Orlando, Florida, to attend the Symposium in October. Here’s a peek at what he learned, and what trends we can expect for the IT industry in the near future.

 What were the 3 highlights of the Symposium?

My Key take-aways are:

Data is king!

Organizations that learn to maximize the value chain of their ecosystems are the future.

Digital Platform + Leadership + Business Contribution = Your Ecosystem.

The market is Customer-Value-Centric.

Customers that get value, and feel valued, will advocate for your business:

  • Create communities, user groups, and advocacy programs for customers.

  • Embrace a wide range of advocacy activities to let customers help you in ways that work not just for you, but for them.

96% of satisfied customers said they would be willing to participate in reference/advocacy activities.

Strategic marketing, sales and practice leaders must tell their story in the customer’s context. This suggests aligning messaging to desired business outcomes and related roles of their buyers both in IT and business.

Context in this case means explaining value in terms of vertical markets and business imperatives that could be externally or internally facing (e.g., digital supply chain optimization vs. collaborative engineering).

What are the most important trends in the IT world that were discussed at the Symposium?

Product Innovation

TSP CEOs are using innovation projects and leveraging digital business to drive growth through better engagement with customers. Investment is being driven toward sales and customer-facing roles instead of toward new product development or cost-saving measures.

Cloud Strategies

Strategic planners need to identify and address the opportunities and risks associated with the shift in IT spending due to the adoption of cloud computing. Providers must ensure they are the beneficiaries of cloud shift in order to minimize legacy revenue erosion and maximize cloud revenue growth.

Go-to-Market Secret Success

Technology buying teams, in both midsize and large enterprises, work on multiple categories of purchases at the same time. To improve marketing and sales effectiveness, TSPs must develop deep understanding of accounts to ensure that their offerings stay high on the enterprise’s diverse list of priorities.

These are the key trends I see in the market today.

 Strategic Trends:

1. Disappearing Data Centers
2. Interconnect Fabrics
3. Containers and Applications Steams

Tactical Trends:

  1. Business Driven IT
  2. DCaaS – IT Delivers Services, NOT Infrastructure
  3. Stranded Capacity
  4. IoT

Organizational Trends:

1. Remote Device (Thing) Management
2. Micro and Edge Computing Environments
3. New Roles in IT

How does Latin America fit in the market?

Huge opportunities!

With globalization as it has progressed today, many Latin American countries have fallen off the wagon due to their political and economic challenges. That is rapidly changing and as technology paves the road to lower costs of easier product and services adoption. Markets become less regulated, and more investments and more reliable infrastructure set the perfect stage for more countries to jump back on the trends and take advantage of them.

At the same time, may Latin American countries, such as Argentina, are extremely well positioned to provide the necessary talented workforce when it comes to IT development, due to its higher level of education, cultural fit, and competitive cost to countries, like the US,  where IT talent is scarce. It’s a known issue and companies see this as one of their primary roadblocks to scalability.

So, I guess it’s fair to say that Latin America, for the first time in many years, has it both ways.

What are the new challenges that CIOs have to face in the industry?

  1. Fear to change and how that will ultimately affect their job and organization
  2.  Access to talent
  3. Leaner processes
Most CIOs know they need to see these new trends deployed within their organizations or they could potentially be out of business. The questions is how you go about it.

Many CIOs have their strategy in place and are eager to implement some of these changes. Yet they are faced with lots of red-tape, internal politics, cultural resistance, and the right leadership in their key people whom they rely on for a successful outcome.

How can you apply what you’ve learned to Santex?

I see that we are moving in the right direction.

A few years ago, we embarked on a path of disruption and innovation –  both internally and externally. We set out to become a composable company, and we did it!

Today, I see that the foundation can propel Santex to face all these new challenges, as strong as ever before.

Our long term vision and organizational changes that we have faced in the past two years will prove invaluable to the company in the years to come.

Despite our relatively modest size as a company, I’ve learned we are at the cutting edge of many of these trends. All that is left is to continue the path we have chosen and expand upon it.

 

Running Your Business Like a Successful Software Project

Rethinking the concept of corporate management – Business Agile Management and Design thinking approach

By Walter Abrigo & Celeste Torresi

A new tendency is emerging in which software project management techniques and principles are taken outside of the IT world and applied to other forms of business. This is the idea behind Agile methodologies and design thinking.

Agile methodologies were first introduced in the ‘90s as a backlash against the strict and structured methodologies that existed at the time that were based on the Cascade model.

Specific cultural factors carry a lot of weight in being able to successfully implement Agile methodologies. Although Agile teams, projects, and individuals exist outside of the IT world, a change in mentality is required for those businesses that want to be completely Agile.

The concept of design thinking began at Stanford University in the ‘70s, where the concept was used to analyze and solve complex problems collectively by focusing on the viability and feasibility of ideas and putting people at the center of observation.

This theoretic framework implies that organizations should forget structured responses when tackling problems, and instead address them in a new way with an innovative solution.

The reality of businesses

Corporate processes help ensure that managers and directors make appropriate financial and management decisions to lead their teams effectively and control deliverables and quality produced in the final products.

 However, such processes can quickly become strict and rigid, centralizing all of the authority and information of a project or business. Such aspects are contrasted in the Agile Manifesto, which indicates that value should be places on: people and interactions related to processes and tools; complete client requirements with documentation; client collaboration in negotiating contracts; and response to change regarding concrete plans.

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An organization that aims to adapt itself to the changing needs of its clients requires an organizational structure that is as efficient as it is functional. An Agile organization meets these needs by reducing hierarchies and minimizing excess communication, creating autonomous groups that are interdisciplinary and transverse.

Our Focus

In conjuncture with our formal and conventional structure, Santex built an Agile framework from which three teams are formed to manage the core processes of the company: Sales, Human Capital, and Development, These teams work collaboratively to achieve common objectives.

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This demonstrates how Agile methodologies can be limited not only to development teams, but can be applied throughout the entire organization as a vehicle for improving the company as a whole.

Furthermore, maintaining the quality parameters of CMMI and ISO norms as a reference, we strive to reduce inefficiencies and obstacles with daily and weekly meetings, backlogs, and metrics.

This enables us to achieve extraordinary results for the three critical processes in the company. In examining our client relationships, the Net Promoter Score (NPS) that we earned during Q2 of 2016 is 87.5. Our rate or retention for clients and collaborators so far this year is 91.21%, and our development processes have achieved an efficiency rating of 85.3%, with an annual improvement of 12% this year.

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With special emphasis on our clients and aspiring to add value to every project from start to finish, Santex creates prototypes and project models with diverse technical content and close attention to detail. We try to observe the client and put ourselves in their shoes, brainstorming and testing different ideas to create the best possible solution for them internally and externally.

Overall, we concentrate our everyday management on the concept of continuous and incremental improvement while simultaneously forging space for creativity and innovative proposals with each project. Our three core competencies are applied throughout our organizational culture to reinforce the implementation of these concepts: effective communication, flexibility, and result-oriented performance.

The Concorde Fallacy

By Annett Koegler, Co-founder at Santex

Why we finish movies we aren’t enjoying, stay in bad relationships, hold on to investments that are underperforming.

 

When you lose something permanently, it hurts.

In order to avoid this negative feeling we do irrational things. You probably have been to a restaurant and ordered something terrible, but you ate it anyway. You didn’t want to waste the money, so you suffered through it. Or you went to a concert even though you did not feel like or something else was more interesting. You still went in order to justify spending money you knew you could never get back. If you can identify with any of these stories, you fell victim to the sunk cost fallacy, also known as the Concorde fallacy.

The Concorde was a joint development program of the British and French governments that continued when the economic benefits of the project were no longer possible. It was designed to be a supersonic passenger aircraft but its lasting legacy resides mostly in game theory, where it has been adopted as a description of irrational behavior.

image-concorde presentation

The fallacy is known for valuing a project based on how much you’ve invested, its “sunk costs”, rather than on its real present value.

If its value is negative and future costs outweigh future benefits, you should abandon it, regardless of how much you’ve already invested. No decision can influence what you’ve already spent, and only future costs and benefits should be allowed to affect decisions.

It is difficult to overcome our own irrationality, we take general good rules and misapply them. We tend think of money we’ve already lost as being ‘still on the table,’ and if only we increase the commitment, we could get it back. To leave would force us to admit our mistake and deal with the cost.

“Pride goeth before destruction” – Proverbs 16:18

Why?

One explanation is the reward that is placed to fall pray of the fallacy by our institutions. In politics for example we do not pay the price for being wrong individually, since not one person decides the election. We usually make voting decisions that are biased and ill-informed. Unlike politics, the market does often punish those who fall for the sunken cost fallacy. Companies are rewarded for overcoming people’s biases, while vote-seeking politicians are rewarded for gratifying them.

Another explanation is loss aversion. From a psychological point most people prefer to keep their losses low, even if it means enduring a bad experience.

We humans are unique. We like to hang on to investments that we know are going to fail, in an effort to recuperate the money already invested.

We stay in careers that make us unhappy, since we are already with the company for 10 years and it has to get better as some point.

We don’t realize that the time and money you’ve sunk is irrelevant, because it is a backward looking decisions.

The exact reasons why people pay attention to sunk costs are not clear, but the smartest choice is most likely to walk away and cut your losses, something most are not will to do. Our decisions should be for the future and not for justifying the past.

“After a crisis we tell ourselves we understand why it happened and maintain the illusion that the world is understandable. In fact, we should accept the world is incomprehensible much of the time.’” -Daniel Kahneman

About the Author – Annett Koegler is the co-founder of Santex. Former web developer and now managing the global financial affairs of Santex. Growing up in Communist East Germany, building a company in the United States, Argentina and Peru, and living across multiple continents, her life is far from basic. If you can’t find her behind her desk or on the next airplane, she is running, paddle boarding or exploring some undiscovered parts of this world.

Key ingredient to success: being stuck with lazy workers

By Annett Koegler, Co-founder at Santex, Mentor at Incutex

We all remember at least one of those moments when traffic seemed to be backed up for no reason. When you finally pass through the cause for all of this commotion, you find a small road construction. One worker is digging furiously in the hole and three or four coworkers are chatting and watching on. What follows next is the classic car conversation, “Really, do they need that big of a ‘mental’ support team?”road-closed-excused-from-work-300x289 (1)

Let’s look a little further, at your office. How many coworkers do you know that hardly ever work while you run behind from one meeting after the other, from one deadline after the other? They seem to have endless time talking to others about life, drinking coffee, and staying up-to-date on Facebook.

It turns out that we are not alone – the same scenarios happen in the insect world. To be precise, in ant colonies, according to Eisuke Hasegawa, a professor at Hokkaido University in Japan.

On average about fifty percent of ants are absolutely doing nothing. They’re resting, grooming, or walking around.

How can colonies with such inefficiency survive and thrive? However, Hasegawa’s study, which was published in February 2016 in Nature, shows that colonies with a significant percentage of inactive workers are actually more resilient. They benefit from a reserve workforce to replace tired worker ants.

“In insect colonies, some tasks are considered to be so critical that they must be performed continuously. Once a catastrophic disaster happens, all active workers are to become completely fatigued simultaneously, so that no tasks can be processed by these active workers. If there are no inactive workers, no worker could engage in such crucial tasks, resulting in serious damage to the survival of the colony. However, if there are sufficient numbers of inactive workers with very high thresholds for task stimuli, they are capable of performing those crucial tasks when all active workers become completely fatigued due to the disaster. Then, the colony is effectively buffered from experiencing such dangerous conditions. Thus, colonies with a high proportion of inactive workers are likely to persist considerably longer than those without such a ‘failsafe’ system, even though the short-term productivity of such colonies becomes much lower than those with no inactive workers.”

This can also be applied to humans if we use the inefficiency as a backup power. A wise person once told me, if you want your project to be done on time and the most efficiently, give it to the laziest member in the team.

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In today’s culture, we value work that is done fast, but is it better?  You receive an important email in your mailbox and you want to answer it right away to show how productive and fast you are. How many times have you reread that email later and thought of all the things you forgot to add?

Thoughts and analyses need time, and for that we have to slow down, focus, and gain perspective. Otherwise we burn out and won’t have an inactive “ant” there to help us.

And in the case of the construction site, maybe you do need 4 workers to dig that hole. Imagine having to dig for hours to repair the problem and put the hole back together… alone, in 90F heat and no shade…

About the Author – Annett Koegler is the co-founder of Santex. Former web developer and now managing the global financial affairs of Santex. Growing up in Communist East Germany, building a company in the United States, Argentina and Peru, and living across multiple continents, her life is far from basic. If you can’t find her behind her desk or on the next airplane, she is running, paddle boarding or exploring some undiscovered parts of this world.

Creating a Work/Life Balance as a Female Tech Executive

In celebration of Women’s History Month, March 2016, we sat down with Co-Founder and CFO of Santex, Annett Koegler. Growing up in Communist East Germany, eventually pursuing a career and starting a company in the United States, and raising a family across multiple continents, Annett’s life has been far from basic. Here she shares with us her perspective on being a female executive in the tech industry and balancing its demands with family life.

Jennifer Eckley:  To start, please tell us a bit about your story about how you first became interested in technology.

IMG_2152Annett Koegler: Back home in Germany, I was studying International Business Management in a 4-year program, part of which involved traveling to work for a company. Having spent a year in the U.S. as an au pair after high school, I was excited when they gave me an internship at a small bank in Sacramento, California. Little did I know that this company didn’t have experience hiring interns! I arrived, and the manager told me, “Well, we don’t know what to do with an intern, but we have this software that we purchased and we don’t know what to do with it. Maybe you can figure it out!” So he gave me the massive manual for this mapping software that tracked data from customers, and I started reading through… and I liked it! The information just clicked naturally with me. Within two weeks I’d figured the software out and it really helped the company. I was so excited that I went back to Germany and found someone who could teach me how to program and use HTML code.

I’d met Juan [Santiago, CEO of Santex] during the student exchange, and we agreed to go back to the U.S. He wanted to pursue his own business idea, but it was the late ‘90’s and he found that a lot of his clients wanted websites. So he came to me and asked me to build them! So I learned as I went and found it really fun, and that’s how Santex was born.

JE: What challenges have you faced transitioning from software developer to owner of a company to CFO?

AK: The challenges have been almost constant from the beginning. Everything I’ve done for the company is kind of from ground zero, up, and I’ve learned a lot on the way. When I became pregnant with our first child, Farahn, Juan had the idea to hire developers in Argentina, so I’d be able to spend more time with the family. This also helped us take on a greater workload and gain more clients. During that time I became more of a Project Manager to coordinate work between Argentina and the U.S. and monitor project timelines. Then with our second child, Johan, I “retired” for a couple of years to focus on raising the kids. Afterward, I was anxious to go back to work to expand myself personally and intellectually and learn new skills. But I quickly realized that being out of technology for four years is a lifetime! So much had changed. I realized that with the family, I couldn’t dedicate myself full time to the work and meet important deadlines, so we re-evaluated where I could provide the most help. And I made the full circle back to the business management I’d been studying and took on the role of CFO. Having been with Santex from day one, I know it as if it were my child, so I feel like I can see what it needs.

JE: I remember you telling me when I first entered the company that stress can be a good thing, and that you do some of your best work under stress. Can you expand upon that point?

AK: When you stand in front of something and don’t know where it’ll take you because you can’t see the road ahead, that’s a stressful situation… but that’s where creativity comes in. I don’t like everyday to be the same with the same routine. When that happens, things are clearly working, but you’re not creating anymore or being challenged. Stress can be nice because it pushes you beyond your comfort zone.

JE: Have you noticed any challenges particularly related to gender?

AK: I don’t know that any of them have been specifically because I’m a woman. For me, I don’t think it’s been any real advantage or disadvantage. When meeting with clients, I’ve never felt that I haven’t been taken seriously simply because of my gender. In the early years of the company, I noticed a certain respect was automatically given because I knew about technology, which impressed people.

JE: In working across countries and cultures, have you noticed different ways in which female executives are treated?

AK: There is a difference most definitely. I feel the most equally treated in Lima and Cordoba for who I am and what I do. In the U.S., I’ve observed other women executives needing to be extra aggressive to get noticed or treated as equals to their male counterparts. Female programmers stereotypically had to look more “nerdy” from my perspective. Those images needs to be portrayed so as not to be misunderstood. Women are so concerned about the stereotype that it can become consuming. In South America I don’t feel that way. Women celebrate being women and express themselves as such in business and in private.

JE: Have you ever had issues sharing ownership of the company with a male executive?

IMG_2635-2_FotorAK: I think the key is finding a person who is compatible with who you are and what you do. With Juan, I’ve been really lucky that our areas of expertise complement each other. Even as my responsibilities changed, he did a really great job keeping me in the loop with the company so I never lost touch with what was happening. I’d come back and it was as if I’d never left! I think if we were working and competing in the same area of the company, that might make things different. But our work is compatible.

JE: Was balancing motherhood with a growing career a challenge?

AK: Part of being a woman is the nurturing instinct, and many women are forced to leave careers to focus on family. I had a choice, which was very liberating to me as a woman. Not everyone gets that. I’ve had the flexibility to dedicate time to both my kids and work, which has worked out really well.

JE: You have both a young son and daughter. What have you told them about pursuing their dreams and/or owning a business?

AK: Juan and I want to sell the business before our kids are old enough to get into it, so that they can start something of their own! We don’t want Santex to be a traditional family business. I want the kids to be able to pursue their own interests.

Right now, Farahn’s dream is owning a horse ranch. What does that mean for her future? I don’t know! But I don’t want to pressure her into any one direction. Kids should be kids and be out playing in nature. The pressure will come soon enough. I want them to be happy, they don’t need to make Juan or me happy. If I’ve achieved that as a mother, then I’ll be happy!

Santex’ Women in Tech

In celebration of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, Santex asked a few of our prominent female engineers about their experience being a “woman in technology.” Each one has her own perspective, but together women like Jimena, Gabriela, and Ashley are fostering greater opportunities for women in the tech industry.

What led you to pursue a career in software engineering?

JImena-2Jimena: Since I was very young, I used to go to my dad’s office, who had always been working in the IT industry and I really enjoyed that time with him, pretending to be part of that environment. Also at home, I admired the conversations between my dad and my brother about Engineering and Math and wished I could be part of them someday. Later on, I loved to spend time on the web so I did some research about the majors available at my city’s university and finally found Systems Engineering, which end up being much better than I expected!

Gabriela: I entered this world through gaming. It’s not something I planned since I was little though. After trying several different jobs I started testing games and I found this place was a good fit for me. I love technology and I felt I could project myself and grow as a professional. Since this is an ever-growing area, I feel excited being part of new developments that might shape the future.

Ashley: My father worked in IT since his early years. He was born and raised in San Francisco and when he was a teenager he met a guy that showed him one of the very first computers. He started working in the IT business when he was still finishing school. My house was always literally filled with computers; old ones that did not work that he was trying to fix, and the new ones he would buy as soon as they were out in the market. When I was 10 he gave me a book with small programming exercises for kids: something like, “Quick Basics for Kids,” and it was something that we would work on together.

What’s the biggest challenge you have faced as a woman in tech?


Jimena: I’ve had many challenges at work, but I don’t consider them to be because I’m a woman. The only thing I can think off is… given the fact that we have to work with people around the world, sometimes I’ve faced some cultural barriers that were then knocked down after a few times working together.
Since we are a minority in the industry, I believe we are welcome to offer a fresh perspective to the business. I think that teams with the best results are those that draw multiple approaches, including ours!

gabriela-2Gabriela: I haven’t had technical difficulties and the road has been pretty straightforward in that aspect. One thing I would mention is that working in an environment where a high percentage of the employees are men, I’ve had always worked with good people and have always been treated well by my co-workers. But what sometimes can be challenging is tolerating sexist comments that are commonly said as jokes. There’s a persistent stereotype that women aren’t capable of logical thinking while the reality proves that we are just as capable as men. That notion luckily is slowly fading away from the cultural mind. I believe we will get to a point where your gender won’t matter, only your knowledge and abilities will.

Ashley: I am not sure I can say I’ve faced challenges for being a woman. The only thing that was hard was getting through college. Some male teachers were very “open” about showing their dislike for females in their classes. But luckily that was the exception and not the rule. When I started working, at the age of 21, I discovered that there were a lot of other women in IT and that we were treated the same as the men. My bosses and partners have always been very friendly, polite and respectful.

What advice would you give to young girls wanting to enter the tech world?

Jimena: One of the best parts of working in IT is the whole range of vacancies within the tech sector offering a wide variety of opportunities available for women to challenge themselves in different ways.
My best advice is 1. Never stop learning – everything changes so fast and we need to always be prepared if we want to be prevalent in this industry. 2.Take risks – it may feel awkward in the beginning, but it starts to feel natural at some point. Try different areas, clients, projects, until you find the position that you love!

Gabriela: One thing I particularly love about this career is building things and then seeing them working. It’s a fantastic feeling! I would advise young girls to follow your passion, never listen to discouraging comments and think big, REALLY BIG! Anything can be achieved with hard work and imagination. All we learn in this career are just tools to give shape to our ideas. Imagination is a big part of what we do and is what we also call ‘thinking outside the box’. Never let go of that thinking!

ashley-2Ashley: I would tell them that getting their college degree is probably one of the hardest parts but they should never give up. Fortunately, in this business, it is possible to work and study.
And then, it is also important to continue studying after getting the degree. Technology changes everyday, the business changes everyday and in order to be a good professional, it is important that you keep up to date on the latest frameworks, languages, and tools.

12 Tools To Improve Management Skills

By Walter Abrigo, Managing Director at Santex

Blog

Aligned with the old concept of Continuous Improvement, among the most common managerial skills, are some aptitudes that should be put into play day to day every time you try to achieve an objective through the work of others. For example:

  • Plan
  • Implement
  • Evaluate
  • Learn (reformulate, adapt, standardize)

Although this cycle holds much truth, today’s reality presents important differences when compared to the past. The following among others:

  • Before what took months actually takes days, hours.
  • Before, steps were consecutive. Now they overlap.
  • The amount of affective variables are of a superior class than in the past.
  • The idea of this article is to present 12 tools that help us better record and follow the significant variables in the development of these skills, so as to alleviate day-to-day burdens.

a) Tools that will up us PLAN:

A Compass
So we don’t begin any activity without clearly knowing where we want to go or what we aim to validate. And to ensure that said activity is aligned with our mission.

Scissors
To make processes easier and to cut or eliminate any step that does not add value. This allows us to question and eliminate tasks that don’t make sense.

Dice
To remind us that sometimes our plans are affected by random events that we cannot control nor prevent, iterating that adaptability in the face of uncertainty is a critical skill.

b) Tools that help us IMPLEMENT

Blinders
These allow us to see straight ahead and not to the sides (toward other difficulties) so we direct all our energy toward the result.  This enables to reach extreme deadlines more efficiently.

A Stationary Bike
So we achieve maximum agility in day-to-day management – from having short, effective follow-up meetings that add value to establishing high-impact policies in record time.

Earphones
To amplify all that we hear, enabling us to listen empathetically to our daily conversations, especially those involving disagreements. Searching to understand before being understood can reveal key information for overcoming differences.

c) Tools that help us EVALUATE

A Clock
So we don’t finalize any critical activity or validation of proposals without having measurements, without having a quantitative result that permits us to compare, analyze, and discuss facts rather than perceptions or interpretations.

A Filter
To help us in the judgments we make everyday. To help us separate intentions from the people who committed a certain action and to make visible our own negative contributions before finding fault in others.

A Magnifying Glass
So we may see beyond the surface and find relationships between variables that may be hard to detect with the naked eye. So we may find those little variables that have a big impact on the end result.

d) Tools that help us LEARN

An Hourglass
To know that the integral development of a person takes time. It is sacred land and improvements may be incremental. Not everything improves at once. It’s like a plant: you have to plan the seed and tend to it before you can cultivate its fruits.

An Alarm
That sounds every time:

  • Before tying processes to people (collaborators, clients, providers, bosses, colleagues, activists, our families, etc.).
  • Instead of being hard headed toward problems and nice to people, we act in the reverse.

A Gong
To remind us that patience is the mother of all virtues and that an error is the path to learning. To capitalize on a mistake develops greater character and more sustainable companies.

About the Author – Walter Abrigo is a Managing Director at Santex. In addition to his large academic career, he possess market expertise in several organizational processes such as management control, change and strategy, recruiting and staffing as well as performance and engagement.