Meet The Role Models is a technology community series which highlights the stories of The Ada Lovelace Initiative role models;  the female technology professionals who are committed to promoting technology careers to pupils nationwide. In this series, we feature interviews with a diverse range of technology professionals, with a variety of roles from over 75 companies in Ireland.

The success of the Ada Lovelace Initiative depends on the participation of role models & since September 2015, The Ada Lovelace Initiative role models have reached over 2000 pupils nationwide. In Meet The Role Models, we offer you the opportunity to get to know the role models who make these visits possible.

In our last instalment of Meet The Role Models, we had the opportunity to speak to Lauren O’ Meara who works at Aviva as an Actuary.

Meet Maria Chefneux

Today’s interview is the tenth instalment of Meet The Role Models and we would like to introduce you now to Maria Chefneux who works as a Localization Product Manager at Udemy here in Dublin, Ireland.

Maria_Udemy

Last month, Maria shared her career journey with the Transition Year pupils of Mount Carmel Secondary School in Dublin City Centre. Maria’s school visit marked a special 1st for The Ada Lovelace Initiative as she presented the school with a new laptop on behalf of Udemy.

In December of 2015, Claire Hough VP of Engineering at Udemy took part in The Ada Lovelace Initiative to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Ada Lovelace. Claire enthusiastically signed up as a role for The Ada Lovelace Initiative all the way from San Francisco and visited the pupils of Mount Carmel Secondary School in Dublin City Centre shortly afterwards to tell her story.

Following Claire’s visit, in addition to sharing her stories and experiences with the girls, she also very kindly arranged the gift of a new laptop for the pupils of Mount Carmel Transition Year – which Maria Chefneux presented the girls with during her visit in March on behalf of Udemy.com

Maria_MountCarmel

Hi Maria, how would you describe your current role?

I am working with Udemy as a Localization Product Manager.  Udemy is an online marketplace where students can take courses for their personal or professional development in a wide range of topics.

My role involves working with linguists to translate our product and websites, with engineers to prioritize and address issues, and with colleagues from different departments to create processes for localization.

What attracted you to this type of work in the beginning of your career?

I always wanted to work with colleagues from different cultures. I thought that a role which involves working with languages would give me this opportunity.

I worked as a project manager for several years and I enjoyed the variety in my job. I later discovered that I wanted to learn more about the business and technology part of the job and this has also opened wider possibilities.

What would you say is the best part of your work?

There are many great parts. First of all, I enjoy working in a team and with my colleagues who have different backgrounds; this keeps me exposed to different perspectives which are interesting and fun.

Secondly, the fact that there are different challenges to resolve on a daily basis gives me an opportunity to learn and develop professionally; there is something new every day and the work is varied which keeps me engaged and motivated.

What would you say is a common misconception about your role type? 

From what I have seen so far, people believe that I speak a lot of languages and that I am doing the translations. However, my role does not involve translation as such; it is about making sure that I enable the translators to be successful, working with technology, and scheduling projects. All these translation related activities involve a lot of communication, organization, prioritizing, and a strong team spirit.

What motivated you to get involved with The Ada Lovelace Initiative?

I heard about A.L.I from a colleague and I was invited to participate in this initiative. I thought it was a great idea; firstly because I would have liked to meet different people when I was a high school student.

It’s good to be able to find out information about different jobs and to ask the questions that really interest you. I also appreciated the new experience of meeting high school students and to share my story with them.

How would you describe your school visit for A.L.I. – My Story?

After I knew I was going to meet the students I was a bit nervous! My colleague told me about her experience and I knew it was going to be interesting.

I tried to make my presentation as interactive as possible, asking questions and allowing time for Q&A at the end of the presentation. The materials and the feedback I got from Róisín from Verify were very helpful.

Did you feel differently before and after your visit? 

I was very nervous before the presentation as it was a very different audience for me. However, the girls were a great audience and made me feel welcome immediately. It was a great experience for me and I felt very energized after.

Maria_ALI

Now that you have completed your school visit, would you have any tips for other role models?

I would recommend including pictures in the presentations so that the students can see how the office looks like, how your colleagues are, and how your work life is.

It’s also good to ask them questions throughout the presentation to keep the students engaged and to find out more about them.

Who is your own role model, and why?

I don’t have one particular role model or a mentor at the moment; I am inspired and I learn a lot from my colleagues in work, friends, and family.

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We would like to thank Maria Chefneux for sharing her story for Meet The Role Models and also for visiting the pupils of  Mount Carmel Secondary School! If you would like to learn more about The Ada Lovelace Initiative, please visit our A.L.I page. We are looking for role models from every county, if you would like more information about visiting a school on our waiting list or your old school, please fill out our form here and we will be in touch shortly.

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