Summary – Over the years, women have been encouraged to pursue technology. But today, there’s still a wide gap between men and women in tech. Like other industries, the tech industry can be biased, but here at Wovenware we want to make a change. For our latest Woman In Tech interview, we got to meet Carmen Lamoutte, a Puerto Rican technology enthusiast, to talk about diversity and how to navigate and progress in your career. Get to meet Carmen.
Table of Contents
- Tell us how and when you first knew you were interested in tech?
- Tech is a big and wide category – What areas did you find most interesting?
- Tell us about your studies?
- What was your first job(s) in the field?
- Was there someone who most inspired you along your career path?
- What do you find to be the most exciting part of your role?
- What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of your role?
- What are some of the keyways that AI has changed since you first entered the field?
- What trends do you see driving the next chapter in AI?
- What challenges have there been for women entering the tech field?
- What advice would you give to rising female software engineers or data scientists?
- Tell us a little about yourself and what you like to do in your spare time?
Technology is a field that requires you to always be learning and take your technical skills one step further. It’s a fast-paced environment that is constantly evolving. The industry has traditionally been dominated by men. However, over the last few years, this dynamic has been changing. Women have been progressively pursuing and rising to the top, in tech careers.
That’s why Wovenware is shining a spotlight on inspiring women in tech, so that they can share their stories, and inspire other women to consider careers in Artificial Intelligence or Software Development.
Carmen Lamoutte, Director of Customer Success at Wovenware is one such female tech leader to serve as inspiration. Carmen joined the company in 2018 as a project manager, and in 2022 became the director of customer success. In her role, Carmen tries to understand the tech industry, the clients needs and their business problems. She is committed to helping customers grow and achieve their goals.
We sat down with Carmen recently to hear her story.
Tell us how and when you first knew you were interested in tech?
When I was in college at Boston University, I studied math and then took a computer science course. That’s when I decided to double major. I didn’t know anything about programming until college. I had a mentor whose name is Claudia Villar. She was a Teacher’s Assistant and really helped me get caught up to other students who had been programming since they were seven years old. For me, it was the first time I was exposed to anything related to computer science. We didn’t have that kind of access here in Puerto Rico.
Tech is a big and wide category – What areas did you find most interesting?
I love problem solving and being creative. Writing programs allows me to do that. I like to say that for programmers, your code is your poem. Now I am also passionate about AI and everything you can do with it. There have been so many advances since I first studied it. Back then, it was very futuristic without a lot of real-world, practical use cases.
Tell us about your studies?
Being a math major really helped me understand the AI side. It’s all about statistics and complex problems with complex data. I didn’t want a software developer degree because I wanted a more comprehensive education, with the opportunity to take a broad array of classes. I took Art at the Museum of Modern Art in Boston and Geology classes. I got a very balanced education.
What was your first job(s) in the field?
My first internship was here in Puerto Rico for InTech – an IT consulting service. I had a lot of great mentors there. My first job was with an interactive application that helped people know about illustrious people like Martin Luther King and George Washington.
Once I graduated, my first job was at Exeter Group – A company specializing in consulting services for higher education institutions. It was based in Boston, where I lived for 11 years including my college years. Coincidentally we did a project for the University of Puerto Rico, and I was traveling back and forth so I eventually decided to stay here in Puerto Rico.
After Exeter I worked at Xtrategit, a consulting company. And then, right before joining Wovenware I was CIO at a commercial lending company named Acricent Group for 5 years. Even though I was CIO, I continued to program.
I then Joined Wovenware in 2018. I had been interested in the work Wovenware was doing, especially with chatbots and AI, for many years. And, then when I was looking for new challenges. I spent a few years hounding Christian and Leslie, but there were no job openings. I persevered and eventually they had a project management position that opened up and I seized the opportunity.
Was there someone who most inspired you along your career path?
I had the privilege to have lots of help along the way so that’s why I am trying to help people now. Oscar Pita was my boss at Intech. He helped me choose my major for my Master’s degree. He said: “Don’t major in Computer Science, do your master’s in something that compliments your bachelor’s degree.” In the end I did my Master’s in Information Systems.
My other mentors were Susan Fought and Laskshmi Thanga Raja at the Exeter Group. They helped me with tech leadership and gave me confidence to pursue my dreams. At Exeter, more women were business analysts, and more men were programmers, but I think it eventually balanced out.
What do you find to be the most exciting part of your role?
Helping companies get to the next level, being a part of customers’ strategies, vision and roadmaps has been very rewarding. I love learning new things and meeting the next challenge, so when I became director of customer success, I felt like I was given a blank canvas. Creating processes for meeting customer needs and establishing metrics and standards to the way we work has been very exciting and rewarding.
What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of your role?
I’m inherently not a salesperson so I work hard to take a different approach to customers. That’s the stigma of the role. I also work to keep myself up-to-date technically and take AI and statistics courses, while also fulfilling the requirements of my position. Carving out time to keep current on tech can be challenging.
What are some of the keyways that AI has changed since you first entered the field?
22 years ago, when I graduated, AI was considered very futuristic. But now, it is becoming more mainstream and practical and will become essential to every programmer. RPA, computer vision and chatbots are some of the forms of AI that are mature today and there are other subdomains that are quickly maturing. There’s also so much talk about trust, responsibility and AI bias. I think that’s a good thing: to shape AI for the good.
If you analyze it, one application usually does things really well. You think about Netflix, they have five to six algorithms: What to watch, your preferences, rate the movie, etc. Humans want to create something more generic to do a few things more correctly. Self-driving cars need more general intelligence. Fully autonomous AI is not there yet but even when it is it will always involve humans.
What trends do you see driving the next chapter in AI?
More and more jobs and activities will become automated to improve the world we live in, enable a better quality of life and a better work experience for employees so that they are more challenged in their jobs without all the monotony.
What challenges have there been for women entering the tech field?
While it may be getting better, I think it’s hard to climb up the ladder for women. There still are not a lot of women in tech, as compared to men. There is a glass ceiling that could be there because of unconscious bias, but women have to be much more knowledgeable and outspoken than men. Yet this type of bias worked to my advantage because when I started out people were looking for diversity – it’s a good differentiator when you’re good at your work.
What advice would you give to rising female software engineers or data scientists?
Never stop learning, stay ahead of the curve, showcase your knowledge and go beyond what’s expected. Speak up, be engaged, know you deserve a seat at the table. It’s also important to get engaged in the community and industry groups, beyond your regular work. It provides connections and different perspectives.
Tell us a little about yourself and what you like to do in your spare time?
I like to go to the beach and also use my creative side by painting – anything from watercolors to acrylics. I love buying art supplies, using them a few times and then changing to other types of paint – everything but oil painting – it’s way too messy.