FACES: Maria Gomez, Engineering Director at BCG Digital Ventures Berlin
“It doesn’t matter what role you’re playing, it’s important you’re questioning and asking why, what’s the end goal of what I’m doing?”
Maria Gomez can still remember the first time technology grabbed her attention. “I was eight or nine years old and my uncle showed me a computer game. It was Lemmings, I remember.”
This early encounter led to Maria convincing her parents to enrol her on a computer course. “I spent two months just opening computers and moving pieces around to see what happened.”
Maria’s uncle can also take credit for introducing her to programming for the first time, teaching her the fundamentals of beginner programming language BASIC (Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code), with which she wrote some simple programs for drawing lines.
From there, Maria followed what she describes as a traditional path for someone interested in technology, taking programming classes in high school before going on to study Computer Science at the University of Alcalá. She finished her dissertation while on an Erasmus year at Kingston University in the UK.
But what sets Maria apart is her interest in technology not just as interesting in itself but as a path to creation. While working as a full-stack engineer in London, she completed a Masters in Digital Media. “This was more about how to engage with other disciplines through technology rather than pure programming: Connected devices, art installations and much more. I learned a lot about project management, sales, stakeholder management…a lot beyond just writing code.”
I want to broaden my knowledge and be more involved in creating businesses and developing them, from an economic and product perspective, not just putting the technology in place.
Maria has worked all over the world, in the UK, New York, Barcelona and Ecuador — and now Berlin. Maria has so far appreciated the city’s abundance of green space. “My partner and I have a lot of friends in Berlin and we visited the city often before moving here, so coming here to work at DV was quite an easy decision.” In her spare time, Maria enjoys playing co-op video games with her partner, going to brunch with friends and travelling. She’s also looking forward to exploring the city more — once the good weather returns: “I’m looking forward to the summer! Berlin has a lot of parks, I really like that about it.”
Maria was attracted to DV as a result of her impulse to move beyond technology, using her wide perspective. “I want to broaden my knowledge and be more involved in creating businesses and developing them, from an economic and product perspective, not just putting the technology in place.”
Before joining DV, Maria was Head of Technology for ThoughtWorks Spain and led the growth of that market from 30 to 200 consultants. She was responsible for the newly-opened Spanish market, setting the overall strategy and building relationships with many organizations within Spain to grow and establish ThoughtWorks’ portfolio and brand. “Coming to DV means also I can continue to develop my experience creating and developing business.”
Just as her skills with technology enabled her to create programs to draw lines when she was first getting started, Maria sees engineering as just one part of putting useful tools into the world for others to use.
Bringing together her technological expertise and her business savvy has granted Maria the ability to do what drives her: Creating products that have a positive impact on the lives of others. “With engineering, you’re creating code, and that code is used by others. When you’re starting more of a venture or organisation it’s not just the code but what’s happening around it. That’s what drives me. It’s very rewarding when you can see other people using the things that you’ve built and seeing the value that you originally saw when you built the product in the first place.”
Maria is particularly interested in the mobility space, having previously been involved with building mobility marketplaces and with companies attempting to disrupt the mobility space.
It doesn’t matter what role you’re playing, it’s important you’re questioning and asking why?, what’s the end goal of what I’m doing? If I’m an engineer building a feature I should care about what the feature does and why it’s useful, not just build it without thinking. It starts with questioning ourselves and our own actions.
Beyond the fact that it’s a sector undergoing a lot of change, Maria is also attracted to it as a proxy for the questions she finds most interesting and pressing in the technology industry, which inform how she thinks about her work. “The human aspect in the mobility space really interests me. Whether it’s autonomous vehicles or scooter sharing, these things are shaping our society.”
These areas present important ethical considerations that, Maria argues, engineers should take their share of responsibility for. It’s an important part of the reason she’s so driven by building products in the first place. Although the questions themselves are far from simple, she encourages engineers to adopt a simple framework: “It doesn’t matter what role you’re playing, it’s important you’re questioning and asking why, what’s the end goal of what I’m doing? If I’m an engineer building a feature I should care about what the feature does and why it’s useful, not just build it without thinking. It starts with questioning ourselves and our own actions.”