So many of us think every day about how to improve — our careers, our relationships, our internal sense of purpose. Maybe we think of getting organized, seeking inspiration, or setting goals. My recent conversation with Andrea Garcia reminded me of another key to improvement: the willingness to make a change.
Big change comes with uncertainty, setbacks, and the grind of building new skills from scratch. And it comes with big questions: How will I get up to speed? How will I adapt to a new culture? How will I define success?
As you’ll see below, Andrea has geared herself to embrace change — with her education, with her work at IBM, and even with her hobbies at home. She jumps into new terrain relentlessly and fearlessly.
What’s the take-away? As an organization, we’ve made incredible progress in a very short stretch of time. That much progress takes more than hard work and dedication. It takes the willingness to take on new challenges. Andrea is one example, but I see it time and again on this team. I’m always impressed — and grateful.
Dinesh: If we include your internship in 2014, you’ve been at IBM five years, and you’ve already worked on some of our most important offerings, from DSX to Db2 Event Store to SPSS. What would say unites your work?
Andrea: Even as a developer and now as a designer, I’ve always wanted to be an advocate for the user. Development moves so fast. We’re always under pressure to get the code done, tested, and out the door. It takes incredible focus. But I noticed that focusing like that can also mean you make assumptions. You assume the user is going to understand what you make as well as you do. But they just don’t. So in design, we’re often trying to question those assumptions as a way to give the user a voice.
How has that transition been for you — going from development to design?
It feels natural. In college, I fell in love with programming. I knew it was what I wanted to do, and it’s been fantastic. And I always loved the creativity that’s possible in programming, so switching to design has been smooth in that sense. In terms of pace and culture, it’s been a big transition, but not a difficult one.
Let me back up a bit. You were born and raised in Puerto Rico and went to college there.
Right. In university, I actually started in physics because I wanted to do astrophysics and become an astronaut — I have asthma, so that was out — but it came from a desire to really understand the universe. Even in elementary school in regular science class, I would always have one more question for the teacher. I don’t know where it came from. I was just curious.
As a physics major, I took my first programming class. I thought: this is really cool. I can type some code and the machine does what I want it to do. That’s what got me. Ultimately, I ended up with a math degree and a concentration in computer science.
How did you end up in California?
I attended the 2013 HENAAC Conference in New Orleans, LA, a science and technology conference targeted to Hispanic students. It was there I ended up bonding with the folks from IBM. They encouraged me to apply for an internship, which I did. I got it and then was invited to come back full time. I’ve been here ever since.
And you’ve been busy. Do we let you have any free time?
Ha! Well, my fiancé Mike and I are remodeling our house one piece at a time. First, the garage, then we’ll do the bathrooms, kitchen, and the rest. He’s done this kind of work before on other houses, and now I help as well and focus on the design.
Once you’re done, you guys can come remodel my house.
Sure — after all the wedding planning. Anyway, you were probably asking about hobbies, but I don’t really have the time at the moment for a proper hobby. Last one I had was ballet. I did that for a few months and enjoyed it. Before that was kickboxing. Before that was rock-climbing. I like to switch things up. I do one thing for a while, learn it, and then start something new.
Hometown: San Juan, Puerto Rico
Currently working on: Global search experience and discover assets experience — both for Cloud Pak for Data.
Favorite hobby: Besides designing for my house remodel, I always enjoy singing in my car.
Top five planets in our solar system: Jupiter, Neptune, Saturn, Earth, Mars
Top five colors: #6399AB, #F8A3BC, #0095C8, #964594, #F25482
Dinesh Nirmal – Vice President, IBM Analytics Development
Follow me on Twitter: @dineshknirmal