My journey into tech

Anaïs Urlichs, a Developer Advocate at Aqua Security, has, in a very short time, established herself as a true influencer in the Open Source community. With 19,000+ followers on Twitter, and 250,000+ total views on YouTube, her work has earned her numerous accolades, including CNCF Top Ambassador, and places on the Open UK Honours list and the GitHub Star program. She spoke to Digitalisation World about her career to date, her role at Aqua, and the challenges women in tech face.

Although I never actively planned my career, I always knew that I wanted to work in IT. I think the beginning of one’s career should be a lot about experimentation and learning, to get a better understanding of yourself and find the things that you enjoy the most. Whilst I studied information management at IE School of Human Sciences and Technology (HST) in Madrid, it was important to me to start reflecting on the areas I excelled in and most enjoyed. That allowed me to envision my next steps, and continually move forward in a direction that excited me. That philosophy is what gave me the confidence to drop out of my first degree, in order to pursue a computer science degree online at the University of Hertfordshire.

I think it's worth remembering that change should not be viewed as a bad thing. My biggest career achievement was transitioning from the emerging cryptocurrency space to the cloud native space. That required me to quickly get comfortable with using multiple new tools. It was a very steep learning curve, but I managed to gain a lot of skills in a very short amount of time and I wouldn’t have been able to progress my career without being prepared to take that risk.

Joining Aqua Security

At Aqua, my role is developer advocate on the open-source team. I think that open-source development is a beautiful thing; an intelligent community coming together to build, develop, and critique software that then leads to greater accessibility to modern technologies.

This collaboration of ideas inspires me every day, and being a part of this community allows me to build upon my previous experience with new contacts and ideas across my social media. I’ve been blogging and creating videos on YouTube for well over two years now, which has allowed me to create my own commentary on topics that really excite me! I hope that when people watch my YouTube videos, they don’t just watch them because of the content but also for the way I present them. Similarly, people won’t just engage with you because of your skills and knowledge - but because of the way you own your work.

That’s something I try to carry over into my working dynamic with my colleagues at Aqua. By combining that with my love for open-source advocacy, my role, as cheesy as this sounds, is a dream come true. Whilst the company is making large headways in the DevSecOps space for the whole industry, advocating for open-source technologies is still the guiding principle behind Aqua. So, if I can continue to build relationships with developers to help them succeed, whilst also shaping Aqua’s growing open-source community, it’ll be a career that I’m very privileged to have.

Getting more women into cyber

As I’ve mentioned, I believe a sense of community is extremely powerful. I think that it can be an extremely important factor when encouraging more women into cyber. For example, organisations such as Girl Code offer an online platform for women in tech fields to connect, whilst also providing a resource for recruiters to access a more diverse pool of applicants. These groups can become valuable tools for sharing application tips and salary expectations, which can help the next generation of workers access the industry on a much more equal footing. Regardless of whether it’s online or not, it’s so important to try and motivate positive change in closing that gap and providing information to help women make better-informed decisions about their careers.

At the same time, if you’re a woman who’s successfully working within the industry, I really believe it is so important to tell your story and inspire others. Looking back, a major part of the reason I didn’t consider a career in any STEM field as a child was that no one ever presented it as an option for me. We need to show that from a young age, anyone can aspire to work in these industries, and if a young person shows an interest in your work, welcome it! You might just change their life.

Overall, women being able to share their experiences ultimately helps to drive innovation even further. I see this every day in my work, and when highly-technical women prioritise information sharing and collaboration, it is so inspiring. If this is a working culture we can champion, the possibility for new technological development can only increase and improve in quality.


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