Alina Popa has 15+ years of experience in the IT industry, and joined Pega in Feb 2020. Vast experience in Finance, Business Development, Enablement and Program Management, mostly in a global set up.

Originally from Romania, with a double degree from Technical University Bucharest and Technical University Darmstadt. Alina’s current role is leading the technical training delivery team, which consists of technical training across the globe, who deliver classes on Pega Technology to Pega employees, Pega Clients and Pega Partners.

Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and your current role at Pega.

I joined Pega 3.5 years ago as a global program manager, responsible for corporate strategic initiatives across the globe and I was promoted in Sept ’23 to my current role. I am also the co-chair of Women@Pega, an amazing and inspiring community of women and allies at Pega, which consists of approximately 24% of all Pega employees.

I currently lead the Consulting enablement team AND the instructor team which delivers training to our clients and partners. Statistics mention the importance of enablement – the more enabled one is, the more successful they are in their daily jobs. Enablement increases productivity, and the knowledge of Pega products and also helps our clients to achieve their goals and maximize their benefits from Pega overall – AI-powered decisioning and workflow automation.

I am originally from Romania, currently living in Munich Germany. I speak four languages, I have two kids, and I am addicted to jogging, hiking, and nature!

Did you intentionally chart out your career trajectory, or did it evolve organically over time?

My career evolved organically over time. I started as a trainee at SAP and later had various roles within SAP: project management, controlling, business development, sales ops, and finally, enablement. However, I’ve always had two constants throughout my career: working globally and being an avid learner! My career progression happened incrementally by stepping out of my comfort zone and staying curious.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

I believe a challenge is also an opportunity and it’s through challenges we all grow! Yes, I did face career challenges – being a woman / a minority in an IT company inspired me to become more active and vocal, and encourage other women to build their networks and connect with other women-focused employee groups. At my previous company, I founded the Business Women’s Network in Munich and I am proud of having the opportunity to grow that community. At Pega, I am fortunate to have a similar role – the inspiration for founding women’s employee resource groups (ERGs) came with the birth of my first daughter and the challenge of balancing work and family / a toddler at the same time.

What stands out as your most notable accomplishment in your career up to this point?

Founding / leading the women’s ERGs I mentioned above. I am very passionate about empowering women and this is where I get my energy from at the end of the day. Women@Pega has grown significantly since the ERG was launched. At launch, we had roughly 200 members and allies and now we have more than 1300 members and allies overall. We have eight active chapters across the globe and we’re growing! It is so important to be part of a vibrant community and it is even more rewarding thinking about the journey – where it started and how far we’ve reached!

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in your achieving success?

Besides passion, perseverance! Plus, dreaming big! I am originally from Romania. When I was a student, still in Romania, I realised I wanted to graduate in Germany, while I was on a two-week scholarship in Germany. This dream took two years to realise, and during that time I had to improve my German, apply for a visa, get a few language certifications, and pass an exam at the university of my choice. When I finally was accepted from the university and the visa, I moved to Germany with zero euros in my pocket. I managed and succeeded in fully financing my study by getting six student jobs at the same time and I managed to study and graduate in a language which I first learned when I was 18! I firmly believe that if you dream it, you can do it!

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology? 

Stay curious, be a lifelong learner, and stay connected to technology. Technology accompanies most aspects of our lives – at work and privately. It is important to be ahead of the curve and understand the impact of technology on our lives and careers. In my field, for example, it is important to understand what Artificial Intelligence is and how it will transform the way we work and serve our clients.

It’s also so important to build your network – including meeting people within your organisation outside of your teams, as well as going to industry events to connect with other professionals. You also need to find what inspires you because it will help keep you motivated to further your career.

What barriers for women working in tech, are still to be overcome?

The glass ceiling – there still aren’t enough women in leadership positions in the tech industry. There is so much we can all do about it!

Please tell us about your role as a co-chair for Women@Pega.

I am so fortunate to be the co-chair of the ERG Women@Pega. Women@Pega was founded in 2020 and grew from 100 to 600 members in just one year. Today we have ca. 1300 members and allies across the globe. We‘re very privileged to have a very dedicated executive sponsor of the ERG and, as a result of both executive support and a strong network of employees, we have become the largest ERG at Pega

The ERG is focused on career advancement, recruitment & retention, social impact and allyship. My role is to define the strategy of the ERG around these pillars and work with the core team to execute & operationalise it.

In an ideal world, how would you improve gender diversity in tech?

Teaching equality needs to start at a young age – well before children are even remotely close to joining the workforce. This includes treating girls and boys equally in school, and explaining that there is no ’by default’ difference in the strength of one group (e.g. girls and boys are equally good in math). There needs to be a collective cultural shift so that we can improve the current situation significantly!

Allyship is a low-hanging fruit which can significantly improve gender diversity in the workforce – any person can be an ally, regardless of their gender or their role at work or in society. Demonstrating allyship in daily interactions is key: raise diversity awareness (which does not apply only to gender), support and facilitate self-improvement to minorities (career-, education -wise or else), and showcase your support the best you can.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech, e.g. podcasts, networking events, books, conferences, websites etc?

I am part of a few networking groups outside of Pega, which I always recommend – it’s important to expand your network beyond your employer (I am part of a Women in Big Data networking group, for example). Look for groups within the geography you‘re located, attend some events (e.g. meetups), and see what groups resonate with you the most.

Additional ideas include the LeanIn Organization (Fostering Women’s Leadership & Workplace Inclusion | Lean In) and the Girls in Tech Organisation, which also hosts conferences (Homepage – Girls in Tech). I am part of the Remarkable Workshop (https://www.linkedin.com/company/iamremarkable ), which hosts many conferences, depending on the country you’re located in.

Are there allies, mentors, or others who have significantly influenced your career choices and growth? How have they impacted your journey?

Everybody should have at least one mentor, if not more, as well as one career coach.  Every conversation you have with both mentors and career coaches results in discovering opportunities and perspectives outside of your own that can help you grow your career. Some companies offer platforms where people can find available coaches within their organisation, so I recommend checking if your company does this.

I had –  and still have – a few mentors and each of them uniquely helped me: one helped me to build a strategic career plan instead of just planning the next move. Another gave me tips on how to improve my communication style. Another tip I received is to not be shy and ask as many questions as needed until I have the full understanding of a project/situation etc. Every mentor played a key role in my evolution – the key is to find THE mentor who is a role model for you and whom you trust to ask questions.

Maintaining a work-life balance is often challenging. How do you manage to strike this balance, especially in the dynamic field of technology?

I spend as much time as possible unplugged in nature: I run almost every day, and spend time hiking, paddleboarding, walking, and more, on weekends – if it’s an outdoor activity, I’m usually interested in doing it! This helps me to recharge my batteries and come up with new ideas.

Building connections is essential. How do you approach networking, and how has it played a role in your career journey?

Networking is essential not only for career advancement but also for understanding what kind of opportunities are out there. While regular catch-ups with teammates are important, consider reaching out to leaders and peers outside of who you work with every day and go for a walk or grab some coffee. I personally love meeting new people and getting new perspectives to both inspire and be inspired!

Technology evolves rapidly. How do you stay updated and adaptable in an ever-changing tech landscape?

Networking, learning, and going outside of my comfort zone help me stay nimble. I’m also always reading new books and seeking out new certifications that help me stay on top of industry changes.

Diversity and inclusion are vital in the workplace. How do you advocate for these values within your organisation?

I advocate for these values by co-leading Women at Pega and by being an ally to other ERGs, such as PWD (People with disabilities), LatinX, Black@Pega, Pride@Pega, as well as encourage collaboration between ERGs. Together we are greater than the sum of our parts, so let‘s make the best out of it to help progress diversity and inclusion in the workplace!

On top of this, I am also a mentor for colleagues at Pega – it’s great to pass on my knowledge to others who can benefit from it. I attend the Women @ Pega events and, depending on the event, I play different roles – moderator, speaker, or attendee.


Read more from our inspirational women here.