Interview with Lourdes Córdova, QA Manager at WebCreek
Continuing my research of the female power inside WebCreek, I interviewed a woman dedicated to ensuring the quality of our software products and guaranteeing that everything functions as it should. I thus invite you to read all that Quality Control Manager (QA), Lourdes Córdova, shared with me, from inside WebCreek’s Lima, Peru office.
Rafa: Thanks very much, Lourdes, for agreeing to this interview.
Lourdes: Thank you.
Rafa: Welcome to my office-house-studio here in Mexico City, in Tlatelolco. Have you ever been here to Mexico?
Lourdes: Well, no, never. I’d love to go, truthfully, but I haven’t had the pleasure.
Rafa: Well, hopefully you’ll come someday. I’d love to show you all the interesting things that this city has to offer.
Lourdes: Yes, I imagine, ah… especially the culinary scene, which is what most excites me about Mexico.
Rafa: Mmm, interesting, yes. We’ll leave that pending for now; I have prepared a few other questions for you. Tell us a bit about your training.
Lourdes: Eh, you mean my academic training? Well, I was educated, more or less, as they say (laughs), in a public government high school. And, well, from there, I applied to university. I worked and studied at the same time, because private universities in Peru are expensive. I had to take certain admissions exams and I got in; and I studied Systems Information Engineering. I graduated and started working as a developer, during this time with a very, very old coding language, Power Builder. Then, they offered to move me on to the QA (Quality Assurance) position, because there weren’t many quality controls in those years. I’m talking about 2008, and this subject still wasn’t widely discussed. But universities, at least the one in which I studied, give you everything about the topic of information technology and software development– always focusing on QA, not just in testing phases, but also in analysis from the very earliest stages.
Rafa: It seems like you had a handle on your professional profile from a very early age. What was one deciding factor during this time?
Lourdes: Definitely, that’s how I started my journey in this field. And in the end, I liked it. And, yes, I decided to keep with it because it was an option that they gave me in the business where I was working. I worked as an apprentice, and they then gave me the chance to choose between developing and quality control. I chose the latter because this particular subject within the software world seemed interesting to me; it gave me lots to explore, like the quality of processes. I’ve worked for my country’s government, so every experience has been uniquely enriching. It’s its own world, totally different from other companies, in which you are constantly learning about other business situations. That’s the good part, at least with the Peruvian government, that there’s a vast territory to explore. Whoever has worked in this area knows that the processes are very complicated. Therefore, we as engineers have the task of synthesizing and eliminating bottlenecks. It’s at once brutal and somehow exhilarating, something that forces you to improve. It’s a professional challenge both in the governmental sector and in private enterprises, banks, etc.
Rafa: And from this basis of training, how did you come to work with WebCreek?
Lourdes: Ah, okay, after about 10 years of working experience, I worked in a company that was dedicated to serve only US-based clients. It was a firm that had a business with an Argentinian partner, and that’s where I learned about the idiosyncrasies of US-based projects: their perspectives, culture, and more. The Energy and Gas system was really the first that I got to know. It was challenging because I was in charge of contracting, and in those years, all the electricity usage receipts came in what are called EDI files. You had to learn this particular code in order to “cook data;” well, that’s what we called it in quality control. And you had to learn this well. Each EDI file was arranged by state– Ohio, Pennsylvania, etc.– and each one had its own standard of operating this electricity usage file. It was not only for payment purposes, but also for stats on usage. It was really interesting, so I worked there for about 4 years, after having previously worked a lot with Peruvian companies. But I decided to resign in search of new challenges. Four years do add up in one company; I was getting tired of seeing and using the same system.
Then, through LinkedIn, they contracted me for a US-based startup company from New York. There, I saw a new and different business environment. That’s where I met my husband, who was also an expert software developer, and we worked together. It was a really rewarding experience, because we worked directly with the New York team. It was an exchange that I hadn’t seen in my previous company, because I was more like a subcontractor. I had missed the language practice, and the chance to really learn about that culture; so these aspects really enhanced my experience.
One of the reasons that I left that company was because there wasn’t much variety in my work. I got a bit bored with uncomplicated projects. After that, I got married, and worked part-time with another Texas-based company– until WebCreek found me. Vera Spychka, HR at WebCreek, is the one who contacted me through LinkedIn. And she told me, “Look, we’re interested in your profile and we’d like you to apply for this or that…” And I said, “sure!”. I talked about it with my husband, and then applied for the QA Analyst position. After a long process, Vera contacted me and said, “Would you like the job as QA Manager?” She told me, “You could be a great contribution to the company.” So I again talked with my husband, and he said that he thought this to be an enriching opportunity for me, something different that could help me learn a lot and help me in my professional career. So I decided to accept it, and have been working with WebCreek since February of this year as QA Manager.
Rafa: What would you say is your main function within the company?
Lourdes: My main job is to make sure that our products meet the ISTQB quality standards, to take care of the team’s ability to meet our QA objectives. Obviously, we improve as we go, as Isaul Bazán of our Lima team can also tell you. And beyond just a responsibility, it’s beautiful to work with dedicated people who enjoy the theme of quality, and who are themselves very responsible.
Rafa: So, to specify this more, how many people do you coordinate in the team?
Lourdes: Let’s see, let me count… here in Lima, there are 4 people. In Mexico, 1; and in Ukraine, 3.
Rafa: So we’re talking about 8 QA technicians that you coordinate. Great. As you know, this is a series of interviews, within this June month celebrating diversity. So I’d like to ask you: what you do you think is the female contribution within a company like WebCreek?
Lourdes: Well, there are different perspectives; and not to compare things, but I always say to my husband: women have something that men don’t– and that’s being extremely detail-oriented. So, men are normally very practical, but women generally go beyond this. They are much more careful about details and form. They have a sixth sense (a third eye, as they say around here), which allows them to see all the angles of the requirements in quality, development, and design. This is something extremely important, and what I say to my husband: you don’t have this quality, because men tend to get bored, while women are more patient. That’s the principle characteristic that a woman can contribute: being advantageous, being detail-oriented, being perseverant, being a fighter. Peruvian women have claws, they don’t just stay content if someone says “A;” rather, they go for “A-B-C.” It’s a distinguishing characteristic that gets to the bottom of things.
Rafa: Great, that sounds perfect to me. I don’t know if you’ve seen the other interviews we’ve published on LinkedIn; we did one with Pedro Pazmiño.
Lourdes: Yes, I saw it. It was funny.
Rafa: That’s just what we want to give to the public. Now this next question is a bit changing topic. You mentioned the verb, “cooking data,” as unique to your field. So I’d like to ask you: if WebCreek were a plate of food, what would it be, according to your imagination?
Lourdes: “Ají de gallina” [“chicken hot sauce”].
Rafa: (Laughs) What is that?
Lourdes: Well, it’s a typical Peruvian dish, really delicious. It’s exquisit, one of my favorite plates of Peruvian cuisine, because it’s huge and the best in the world (laughs). Second best is Mexican food. But, I imagine it like this because you never get tired of eating “ají de gallina”… never.
Rafa: To finish up our interview, and you’ve been very generous with your answers, what would you say to the women interested in technology, who perhaps are reading this? What is your message for them?
Lourdes: That they fight for what they want. That they break the glass roof of “what cannot be done,” and that they burst the schematic that says women aren’t made for information technology. They said that in my day, that women can’t program, that they are only good as designers and business analysts. So I say that all the women who desire, break that scaffolding and pursue what they are really passionate about. That is, that they persevere until they achieve what they want. That’s power.
With those words, I gave my good wishes to Lourdes for her recent birthday, finishing up our chat by thanking her for open answers and thinking about the “ají de gallina…” Something is cooking up at WebCreek, I thought, and I hope that we soon have delicious new dishes to offer.