In todays’ “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” column, Carly from the People & Culture Team will be talking to our Trunkrs Data Heroines in the drivers seat: Romhilyn (Rom) and Alma. Take a seat ladies and get ready to discuss cultural values across borders!
First of all, let me introduce our wonderful ladies of the data team to you! Rom, our dear colleague from the Filipino team on the left side and Alma, from our Dutch team on the right side of the picture. This picture was taken two weeks ago while the Dutch Trunkrs Team was visiting the Filipino Trunkrs team in Tagaytay. Tagaytay is known for a cooler climate in the Philippines due to the altitude and the beautiful views on Lake Taal and its Volcanic Island.
As soon as we start our interview it starts raining heavily. The ladies were a bit worried that I could not hear them. The sound of the rain was so intense, that it almost drowned out our voices. Nevertheless we had a wonderful time together where both ladies found out that they have more in common than they upfront expected.
Great to have two women of the Trunkrs Tech team in this call. Can you both share how many women we currently have in our tech team?
Rom and Alma start to count… We have Mary, Prei, Toni, Alexandra, Janine, Mette, Nathalie, Raquel and us two (a.m.o. colleagues in other teams). We continue talking about the working history of Rom and we found out that both Rom and Alma are the first female hires in the tech teams. Rom in the Philippines and Alma in the Netherlands. After they joined Trunkrs, a lot more women followed their example.
Rom explains that in the Philippines everyone is encouraged to generally work in the Healthcare Industry as nurses. She shares that her mom was the driving force to enroll her in a study like Computer Sciences, so Rom could explore peacefully during her university years what career path she wanted to follow. Rom also taught classes in high school and in college.. Rom worked a couple of years as a business analyst in the insurance industry which was nice but did not give her the level of comfort she experiences now at Trunkrs. She gained confidence to steer her career towards the data, Power BI, engineering field as her previous boss gave her some opportunities in this field. At some point she decided that she was ready to start working at a pure tech company and decided to join Trunkrs. Rom is very thankful to her mom, especially during the pandemic, she realizes that she is in a safer environment. At that time she is very much aware that her cousins are in the hospitals, as were she has the convenience of working from home. Less risks to get affected by Covid-19, nor facing patients on a daily basis.
They both discovered that the mothers were important drivers for both their careers in the sense that also Alma’s mother encouraged her to study what she liked and not what was expected of her. Different to the upbringing of Rom, Alma was already exposed to different generational expectations as her relatives had backgrounds in software engineering and math. Alma’s mother’s profession is teaching. The same as Rom did in the past!
Alma was free to choose what she wanted to study, but already focused at an early age on making websites with her dad. These were the first moments she got in touch with programming and she loved it ever since. Alma shares that she was born in Rotterdam but raised in Schiedam. Schiedam might not sound as international as the city name might be. Little do people know that it is actually the Capital of Gin as the founding father of Gin, Jenever was distilled in Schiedam. During her childhood, Alma travels a lot and gets very much interested in reading about other cultures, as well as learning how other cultures evolved over time. “When I graduated I really wanted to work for a multicultural tech company. I was looking for a team of developers that don’t want to do only programming in dark attics, but are also socially skilled as well”. Both mentioned that they find it very convenient to work at Trunkrs as people are very social and approachable.
Working life across borders
Rom shares that organisations in the Philippines are pretty much hierarchical and that she encounters the opposite at Trunkrs. If colleagues within the Philippines disagree with you, you quickly learn to “Agree to disagree”, as the Dutch communication style is a bit more direct. Rom appreciates that she can work shoulder to shoulder with anyone in the company regardless of their job titles. She can reach out to Hidde (CTO) on a personal note. Something she really admires but might not always flow naturally as it is also ‘new’ to her and her team. On the other hand we have Alma, sending a Linked In message to Hidde, without spotting the vacancy for her skillset on the careerspage of Trunkrs. She was really looking for an open minded company where her voice would be heard. They both conclude that the leadership style within Trunkrs in their teams is far from traditional, something they both very much appreciate. Alma’s biggest concern in regards to her programming career, would not be focused on entering a male-dominated tech company, but rather missing potential opportunities to get promoted, if she would not feel comfortable to raise her voice.
What should the team know about you that you have not shared yet?
Rom recently got married to her husband who happened to be her boyfriend for 15 years already! Her husband gave her her first cat. She says that she completely became a first class cat mom. She organizes official birthday parties for each of her cats where she invites family and friends over to come celebrate. If you think….hmmm a little crazy…. The story gets even better! Rom even brings them to an official photography studio where she dresses them up in wonderful cat outfits and proper backgrounds. Alma hopes one of the cats has their birthdays whilst the Dutch Team is still in the Philippines. Unfortunately there is no live birthday but the idea arose that we could organise a pet day at Trunkrs as a place where we can put our furry friends in the spotlight!
Alma, on the other hand, shares her passion for books and series like Bridgerton, Downtown Abbey, Reign and Outlander. Alma also likes to contribute to charitable organisations. She once cycled for 400 KM in five days on a tandem bike with a friend. They raised money for less fortunate families to send their children to a summer camp during the holiday season.
If you could send a package to yourself years from now? What would be in it?
After reading the complete article, I think it is quite easy what Rom would order! Rom will order more outfits for her cats and take them on another furry photoshoot! Alma would send herself the books that are currently laying on her nightstand as a small time capsule as a memory of reflection of what the past looked like.
How did you experience this interview?
Humble as they are, they immediately focus on sharing that it will create more visibility to the Data team. When I ask the question again… How do YOU experience this interview? They both realise that they feel treated like celebrities and suddenly understand the value of the interesting story they told me. They realise that they can be a role model for other women in tech and still feel comfortable. There is room for everybody and they are happy to contribute to creating that space for others.