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Meet Shirley Santana—COO of software dev company Version Do and ambassador at the Fora Global Summit.

Shirley Santana

Continuing with our initiative to interview outstanding women in technology, #WomenInpiringPeople, this time we will meet Shirley Santana.

Meet Shirly Santana

Shirley has a degree in economics from the Instituto Tecnológico de Santo Domingo (INTEC), with a mini-MBA in international business from the University of Miami. She is the chief operating officer (COO) of the company Version Do, a Dominican company dedicated to software development and also a columnist for the newspaper El Tiempo.

At 22 years old, Shirley became interested in technology as a complement to her degree. Her inspiration to work in the world of technology was thanks to the research she did for her undergraduate thesis, which focused on sustainable development and fintech.

Shirley is also the first ambassador from the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean at the Fora 2022 Global Summit, which is one of the largest youth leadership conferences in the world.

Shirley Santana

In this interview, Shirley shares with us some super important tips for your success!

Shirley, tell us a phrase that describes you as a professional.

“You learn from everything, even the tiniest things.”

Define what technology is for you in a word.


Tell us some curious information about yourself.

I got inspired to work in tech because of the research I did for my undergraduate thesis, related to sustainable development and fintech. Before that, my only connection with tech was the statistics coding programs for few subjects in my career such as R, Stata, E-views and Matlab.

In your tech career, what has been your biggest challenge? Could you share with us a bit?

Coming from a traditional background, I’d say it’s learning to be proactive to find improvement opportunities even before the client can tell you. It’s a constant dynamism and there’s never a dull moment. You have to learn, and at the same time, you need to do, because there’s not a minute to waste. All of that with the commitment to always add value to every project and every team you’re working with.

What learning did that challenge leave you with?

There’s a fundamental need in all of us to learn all the time. You can either find it as a blessing and an opportunity to grow, or let it become your biggest excuse to stay in your comfort zone.

What would you recommend to a person who is undecided whether or not to start a career in STEM?

It’s impossible to grow on a traditional path. Our times demand professionals that can manage quick changes. When compared to the exponential growth of the technology job market and entrepreneurial environment, most traditional career outcomes are obsolete. Do it even if you don’t know what you’re doing. Learn to learn and grow as you do. Action leads to inspiration, not the other way around.

Give us a tip for people who are currently working in STEM.

Be curious. Even if some process isn’t part of your job description, learning how to do it, even just the basics, is important to remind yourself that you are more than your job title. You are an evolving being, act as such. Remember that wonder is the beginning of all wisdom.

What advice would you give to a person who wants to have a successful profile like yours?

Sharpen your time management skills. Success is based more on organization and persistence than intelligence. Try to communicate effectively. Working with multidisciplinary teams requires an immense amount of communication and honesty to achieve the project’s goals. The same goes for your clients or stakeholders. They need to know what’s going on and how the challenges are being handled. Never underestimate anyone; everyone is a rockstar until proven to the contrary.

Finally, I would like you to give some advice to your readers on how you organize your times, especially when you have large projects and a profile like yours.

Always remember your goals and establish priorities. A true leader understands that the defined route to achieving the desired outcome can and always does change. It is up to you to understand the problems as challenges, and adapt to constantly deliver more than what’s expected. To establish priorities, use common sense and the immediate needs of the client or your company.

In addition, also identify your time robbers: people, social media, unnecessary meetings, unlearned processes. If we really pay attention, there are hundreds of things and thoughts in a day that don’t deserve your time, so value it as your greatest asset. Remember that “NO” is a full sentence.

Never take more responsibility toward others that jeopardize your stability and your project’s life cycle. Stay focused and rest.

Rest is as important as anything in your day—rest serves as a reset for your body, spirit and mind.

And always look at the sky when possible. More often than not, it helps me organize my thoughts and find answers.

Wrapping Up

Did you like the interview? You can follow her on LinkedIn, and I’ll leave you some articles that may interest you from Shirley:

Don’t forget these great tips from Shirley. I hope you enjoyed and feel inspired by this interview! See you in the next article! 💚💕

About the Author

Leomaris Reyes

Leomaris Reyes is a Software Engineer from the Dominican Republic, with more than 5 years of experience. A Xamarin Certified Mobile Developer, she is also the founder of  Stemelle, an entity that works with software developers, training and mentoring with a main goal of including women in Tech. Leomaris really loves learning new things! 💚💕 You can follow her: Twitter, LinkedIn , AskXammy and Medium.

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