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Women in IT

“Programming is like craft. You need knowledge to write a program that works properly, but at the same time creativity and experience are very important to develop a solution for a new problem”
Vanessa's biography

Vanessa Sabino started her career in IT in 2000 after finishing her studies in Business Administration. Working as a System Analyst at Accenture, she had the opportunity to learn different technologies and apply them to a wide range of organizations, including government, telecommunication, manufacturing, and retail.

After three years in IT consulting, she decided to continue her studies by pursuing a new degree, this time in Applied and Computational Mathematics, followed by a Masters in Computer Science, both at Universidade de São Paulo, in Brazil.

Back to business, she started working as a Java developer at internet companies. First Universo Online, Brazil’s largest online service provider, where she helped develop and maintain the billing system, and after that she joined BuscaPé, the foremost ecommerce company in Latin America, where she worked in their comparison shopping site.

In 2010, she started getting involved in Digital Analytics, and when a recruiter from Rocket Internet invited her to lead that area in a new ecommerce startup to be launched in Brazil, she jumped at the opportunity. In less than two years, Dafiti became the leading fashion ecommerce in Brazil and expanded to other countries. As a result of her work, she was the winner of the Ecommerce Brazil Award 2012 in the metrics category.

In late 2012 she moved to Canada and joined Shopify as a Business and Marketing Analyst, where she has the opportunity to help shape the commerce in Canada and around the world.

My current job is Data Analysis Team Lead for the Shopify Toronto office. My goal is to help the company make better decisions through the use of data. Our business generates an enormous amount of data everyday, from clicks in our website to ecommerce sales in thousands of stores that run in our platform. With the right technology tools, we can aggregate, summarize, compare, and perform all sorts of analysis with this data, which allows us to better understand the effects of past actions and even predict with some degree of certainty what could happen in the future.

To start with, programming is like a craft. You need hard knowledge to write a program that works properly, but at the same time creativity and experience are very important to develop a solution for a new problem. There isn’t only one right way to write a computer program, but there is some elegance attached to a well structured code that is easy to understand and maintain.

There is also the satisfaction that when your task is done, in general it’s possible to verify if the results are right or wrong and you can iterate until you get it right.

For data analysis in particular, it’s great how the results of your work can have a great impact in the bottom line. At Shopify, everyone loves data and they are always seeking a better understanding of it, so the data analysis team gets involved in many areas of the organization.

I got my first computer when I was 8 years old and I’ve always found them fascinating. But back in 1996, when I was finishing high school, it wasn’t clear to me what a career in IT would be like. The internet was just starting to be popular. So I went to study business administration, and that was when I started understanding the role of IT. During my first year at university, I had to read the book “The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement”, and the system analyst was my favourite character! Eventually I took more courses in Data Mining, Data Warehousing, and Operational Research. I got my first internship in a company owned by my Computer Science professor, and when I finished school, I started to work at an IT consulting company, which gave me the opportunity of getting involved in IT projects for various organizations.

My advice is for them to use the internet as their best resource. There are a lot of sites to learn how to program, and it’s also great to get involved in the communities that evolve around certain technologies. For example, my favourite programming language is Python, and there is a group called PyLadies that organizes meetups in many cities, where women get together to learn and talk about it, while enjoying some food and drinks. Larger groups are also very welcoming, and the fact that we are outnumbered sometimes can work as an advantage. For example, there are companies, such as Google, that sponsor a few women to go to Python conferences as part of their diversity program, while Shopify sponsors some of the PyLadies meetups.

To be honest, I don’t think my job is stressful. Sometimes hunting a bug can add some stress, but writing a SQL query, for example, is something that I find very relaxing. But I practice Tai Chi twice per week and on the weekends I like taking a stroll in the park when the weather is nice.


Through outreach and professional development activities, research, partnerships, thought leadership and online initiatives, we work with industry and academia to educate on the value of diversity for innovation, to inspire women to thrive and to celebrate the contributions of women in science and engineering.
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