Interview with Sara Murillo, Project Lead at WebCreek
This week, I interviewed a woman who revealed her responsibilities and creative contribution inside WebCreek. Despite her being Ecuadorian, I was surprised by her reiterated use of English. I therefore, here and in the name of linguistic fidelity, wholly retain her anglosaxon expressions and references. May you all feel welcome to journey on this interview, with unexpected twists from start to finish. I invite you to get to know the essence of Sara Murillo, Project Lead at WebCreek, through her very own words.
Rafa: What is your role with WebCreek?
Sara Murillo: (Assuring smile). My role with WebCreek, officially, is Senior Project Lead. I’m now going on 3 years with the company and my main tasks are, obviously, managing projects. Besides this, I also would think of myself as an Account Manager, because I also maintain client relations when they need a new feature or project. I also have experience in the company doing client agreements– explaining to them about the support contract and its benefits, and a bit about the negotiations. Still, I was a QA Analyst in my first months with WebCreek, so I also give the QAs some support with trainings (that is, test quizzes). I do a good amount of this work with the projects. I additionally do interviews, as nearly the last filter in the company’s Project Lead selection process. Once new hires start in the business, I’m the one who trains them. Likewise, I develop material for WebCreek University… what else? I also do research allocations. So when a new project comes, I see which project lead can best help us.
Rafa: Yes, you certainly do a lot of everything. Listen, you just spent a bit of time in the United States, correct?
Sara Murillo: Yes, I was in San Diego, California.
Rafa: Tell us, how was your experience there, with this super interesting client, Shipware?
Sara Murillo: Shipware is a Third Party Logistics Company. What it does is focus on reducing its clients’ shipping costs. They have over 300 clients– a medium-sized company, but super warm and inviting. They were my clients in 2017; I did a project called Shipware Portal. We turned over the project with a 100% success rate, I’d say. So much so, that they’re selling this project to their clients, using it for demos every week. This was actually my first project as Project Lead.
Since this project, we’ve signed another and much bigger one, called Shipware OS. It will replace all of the company’s current internal processes, which we will automatize. It deals with a Web App that contains all the integral processes in a single application, using point technology. This application will replace all of the current reports, optimizing time and enabling scaling on the basis of growth plans. My trip, in essence, was in order to culminate the project; that is to say, to help them do the user tests.
At the beginning, I was the one who received the project’s requirements. Then, I changed projects, and now in the final phase, they asked me to come back for their onsite testing. So, I was coordinating meetings, testing workshops, and at once involving the WebCreek team in case of any issues or feedback. Originally, I was going to stay for a month. But it turned out to be a two-month stay.
Rafa: Good, that’s very interesting. What is the leadership style that you use with your working teams?
Sara Murillo: I believe in the Scrum Framework leadership style, which is the Program Management Methodology we use in WebCreek. It’s called Servant Leadership: leading by service. So, I don’t believe in an authoritarian boss, but rather, a boss that’s part of the team. The philosophy is that we’re all responsible for everything, that you give the team members ownership so that they feel responsible, valued, challenged, and part of something much bigger. They shouldn’t feel responsible just for a single task, but for a project. In Scrum, we also apply multifunctional and cross-functional teams, so I ask all our teams to give me feedback, opinions, and comments about any topic. I like to share any decision that we make with the whole team, because we have people from so many different places, and with such different backgrounds and expertise in so many areas. This collaboration is therefore indispensable for our teams.
Rafa: What is your strongest memory, or most memorable photograph, that you have from your years as a student in Missouri?
Sara Murillo: (Laughs). My years in Missouri, let’s see, let me think. A most memorable photograph? Well, I have a number of them. I don’t know if you knew, but my minor was in photography. I have a ton, umm, I’m going to go a bit into the personal side of things. One of my projects was with dark room photography. I decided to do a self portrait. As you know, they’re super difficult– especially if you’re with a film camera. So that’s what I decided to do. It was a super difficult time during my university years: I was alone and I went there to study at just 17 years old. So there’s a photo you can see on my blog, if you’d like, where I’m the bathroom hugging myself. I’d say that this is the most memorable photo I have from there in Missouri.
Rafa: What was your experience like working with the local paper around those parts?
Sara Murillo: That was my first exposure to what is art, photography, writing, and getting to know people. They asked me to work for them and I started in photography. I was very amature; I didn’t know anything. But they encouraged me, because they wanted someone from a different nationality. And I came from Ecuador, was there in Missouri, and applied. Everything went well, and my jobs were to go to events, find campus activities, and take pictures and interview people that were there– all in order to write a report. That was the experience that I had with the Montage. I don’t know if you saw any of the pictures that I took, which were published in the newspaper.
Rafa: Would you relate that first experience with what you do now in WebCreek?
Sara Murillo: No. Hahaha. Maybe the subject of talking with people, the empathy. At the same time, in WebCreek, I am in charge of maintaining client relationships. So, there I learned to become a bit more extraverted than what I naturally am– to go out, speak with people I don’t know, ask them how they’re doing, how they feel with the event, etc…. now, I have to do the same thing with our projects. Maybe, in that sense, that era of my life was helpful.
Rafa: Listen, what was something that you learned, or that you remember, from your time in China?
Sara Murillo: I earned a month-long internship to work with Cadillac, in Shang Hai. I went as a designer, because my major was in visual communication. So, I went to design an immersion process with the worldwide company, McCann. I was there a month and a half, and after doing some tourism, I worked with them in design topics. They gave us briefs in order to make CA posters and magazine spreads. From there, I had the honor of working with the creative director. I received his feedback and saw the work that they were doing, like making material for spectacular shows in Shang Hai and remembering the Cadillac’s history and inspiration based in the human body. That’s a little bit of what my experience was like there.
Rafa: The time has arrived for our slightly off-topic question: What can you tell me about blessings?
Sara: About blessings? What kind of blessings? (I show Sara, through the webcam, my pet, Lino). Ah, okay. If we’re talking about that type of blessing, I love dogs. I’m the type of person greets dogs if I see them on the street. I’ve very respectful with dogs, and when I was in Missouri, I worked as a volunteer in the Humane Society. I would walk the dogs, bathe them, and take their photos for adoption. And here in Quito, I make donations whenever I’m able, to a foundation called Acción Animal (Animal Action). I love “blessings.”
Rafa: And good, now that we’re on the subject, imagine this: if WebCreek were a blessing, a dog, which would it be and why?
Sara: Let’s see… what kind of dog would WebCreek be? (pensive silence). Maybe a Pitbull. I believe that they’re really pretty, with their slouching ears and everything; but when they have to defend something… we all know that they’re used for fighting, unfortunately, but we also know that it’s a warrior dog. That’s why WebCreek would be this breed. We are very gentle, but when we have to fight, we go full throttle.
Rafa: Finally, and almost finishing up here, I found your watercolor paintings of birds and forests on instagram. Do they mean something in particular to you?
Sara: No, I mean, I love nature. I love camping; I love disconnecting myself. That is, I spend my whole week connected, and I love going out on the weekends to the mountains– going on some trip. Maybe that’s the inspiration for my pictures of nature.
Rafa: Hey, and another really interesting feature: the fine art of cake-making..
(A big smile from Sara)
Rafa: You also define yourself as a cake artist…
Sara: Yes, I am a Cake Artist. Actually, ever since I was a little girl, I have watched cooking shows. My great dream was to be a chef; but, well, parents aren’t always in agreement with what one wants to be. So I couldn’t study what I initially wanted, and now that I’m completely independent, I decided to study. I dedicated last year solely to cake making, realizing that cooking itself isn’t my thing. I’m a pastry chef at heart, because it is very precise and I’m a perfectionist. So I’m getting more involved with cake making, and I learned, and one day someone told me, “Sara, I love your cakes. Why don’t you sell them?” And they asked me for a special order and that’s how it started. I took some pictures, opened an Instagram page, and sometimes I do private orders. But I don’t do very many; I like to bake from the heart, for example, for a friend’s birthday. Actually, I brought cookies for the WebCreek team last week. Sometimes, I bring them cakes. Now they know that when I arrive with a box, it’s one of my creations.
Rafa: Perfect. Finally, previously, you mentioned something that sparked my interest and I’d like us to expand upon it. Returning to work, now that we’ve heard a bit about your personal side, you mentioned “climbing over problems.” This is interesting to me– what do you mean by it?
Sara: Ah, okay. I believe that when there’s a problem in whatever project or situation– if someone tried initially to solve it and, let’s say, you need someone else’s feedback, advice, or approval– I suggest that the best thing to do is to communicate immediately. If you, as a Project Lead, tried to solve something and you need Jason’s, Kyle’s, or your supervisor’s feedback; the faster that you communicate, the faster that the problem will be solved. So, I’ve told WebCreek’s Project Leads to let me know about any issues as soon as possible, so that I can “climb over” them and come out with the soonest possible solution.
Rafa: Thanks very much, Sara. It was a pleasure to chat with you, and thanks for everything you’ve told us. Do you have a final phrase or message for our readers?
Sara: I’d like to say one of the phrases that hit me hard when I started here WebCreek: There is no tomorrow. If we’ve got to do it, we do it today.
And thereafter, even after hanging up the chat and getting ready to continue my day, Sara’s final words kept echoing in my ears. I remembered this Mexican saying: “No dejes para mañana lo que puedas hacer hoy:” “Don’t leave for tomorrow, what you can do today.”