Virginia Costa

As managing director, Latin American development, Virginia Costa believes that the key to building motivated teams comes from a clarity of common purpose.

This is the way to unleash the full potential of talented teams, build great products and solutions and complete our company mission. Virginia has successfully led multiple integration processes, overseeing the creation and growth of development teams. She empowers her teams to set high standards built on a strong foundation of integrity. Her Leadership philosophy is to continuously foster open and honest communication, creating an environment of trust and transparency, mutual respect and diversity. When she is not working towards our company vision, Virginia enjoys playing tennis and spending time with her family. Virginia credits her ability to relate to people in different jobs and situations with her well-rounded educational background and many years managing complex projects that required her to look at problems from different angles.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role:

I am a mother of two, an amateur tennis player, and a technology lover. My career began 20 years ago with a tech company which years later is now part of the Sovos global organisation. I come from a software engineer background but also gained an MBA in Human Resources so have a unique background and skillset for the industry. Now, working as Managing Director for Latin America, my main focus is to create scalable teams within the Tucuman Argentina Shared Service Centre to ensure we provide the highest quality of service to our clients. As a leader, it is crucial to have a creative vision for the company and I’ve found my collaborative skills and ability to forge strong relationships with internal and external partners has got me to where I am today. A vital aspect of my role is maintaining a motivated team, which comes from a clear common purpose. Our teams are so talented, and with this common purpose, their full potential can be unleashed to build great products and innovative solutions for our clients.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Yes, I did! I started my career with the end goal in my mind. As a quality assurance intern in a product development department, I knew from day one that I wanted to enter management and since then I have planned my career specifically towards tech management. That is the main reason I have a specialised MBA in Human Resources! Once I finished my engineering degree, I knew the skills I could gain from this degree would help to maximise my success in a management role.

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

Throughout my career, I’ve been lucky to have some great managers and leaders who had faith in me and gave me responsibility early on. It also helps that I am confident in my skills, and in my team. We support each other, and that definitely helps me to jump into challenges which might appear daunting if I were by myself. I’ve also found transparency in my communications has been another way I have faced challenges, building trust with my team and leaders.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I’ve successfully led multiple global integration processes, overseeing the creation and growth of “shared services” teams in Latin America. The teams today are made up of over 300 individuals with expected growth to come. I’m confident that part of my success is down to my ability to empower my teams and set high standards built on a strong foundation of integrity and trust.

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

For me, the most important factor is acknowledging that we are not superheroes. The awareness that sometimes our personal lives will come before work, and vice versa, is key,  this doesn’t mean we are failing our families or our work.

The highest demand and pressure comes from within, and it’s important to learn to ask for help and to build a network in our personal lives and at work!

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

No matter what you do, always give 100%. Do it the best you can with the tools you have available, and always be willing to help others. Also, be proactive! Don’t be afraid to take on challenges, even if you’re not an expert. I remember when I started my career as an intern in quality assurance I was asked if I knew about web programming. I knew what it was, but I didn’t know a lot, but by putting myself forward for the challenge I became part of some key projects which gave me so much exposure to other areas and leaders in the company. Never be afraid of what you don’t know, you can always learn!

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

I got my degree in information engineering which has historically been a male-dominated career path. In my class, there were 100 men and only 3 women, and at first, it was very challenging to be heard in many situations. It took a lot of persistence to prove my worth to everyone. Later in my career when I gained a leadership role at 27 years old, I also had trouble getting my voice heard. Especially in Latin America where discrimination against women can be a significant problem. I worked on this with help from other leaders to gain the trust of my peers and build successful partnerships. I was told things like ‘you wouldn’t understand how things work in the tech world’ more often than I would have liked, but I’m very proud to work for a company like Sovos where they proactively work towards diversity, equity, and inclusion.

What do you think companies can do to support to progress the careers of women working in technology?

The first thing companies need to do is dismantle implicit bias around women. There are certainly leaders in companies which have already overcome these preconceptions, however, it often only takes a couple of individuals with this mindset to limit the fair growth of women in the workplace.

There are currently only 21 per cent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

The key to increasing the presence of women in tech starts at universities. There are still barriers faced by women joining certain courses or careers. I would love to reset the cultural bias and help increase the ratio of women studying engineering and management degrees because once women make it into the tech world, we are very successful!

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

I would recommend joining an online community which shares your values, ‘Girl Geek’ is great! Also finding a mentor and seeking out coaching sessions can be really helpful. Regarding resources, I would recommend increasing your resilience against people who are not comfortable with women in the tech space. No matter how much work a company puts towards this, barriers continue to exist for women and practicing resiliency will allow us to continue pursuing our goals without feeling frustrated or discouraged.