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Women in Tech – Interview with Sabrina Kall

min read

With their holistic approach, women are crucial for the future of software engineering. Let's amplify their visibility and motivate more female talents to pursue a career in this field. Be part of the change and make a difference!

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Christoph Havlicek

Sabrina Constance Kall studied Computer Science at the Swiss Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) and the Technical University of Vienna and started her career working as a researcher with SAP Labs France helping to train an AI to detect leaked passwords. After her graduation, Sabrina spent two years working as a software developer in Zürich. Now, she is with IMTF, where she helps building financial regulation software, for example for money-laundering prevention. Last year, she has been promoted to a team lead position, where she is currently responsible for a project which is a next-generation platform that uses machine learning. We are thrilled to have Sabrina on board for our interview series to strengthen the visibility of women in tech.

Hi Sabrina, great to have you. What sparked your interest in software engineering?

I thought coding was cool since I was a kid because of books and movies, but I never knew how to start. It all seemed much too complicated and completely out of my reach. When I was 17, I read a magazine article about how there was a huge shortage of software developers, especially women. The article included several websites to learn how to code as a beginner. I finally got to try it out and loved it. I kept doing coding on my own, then enrolled in Computer Science at university. And because of that, I'm including these links, if that's allowed: https://hourofcode.com/us/learn & https://girlswhocode.com/programs/code-at-home. Just in case someone else out there doesn't know how to start.

Why do you love your job? What drives and motivates you?

I love building things that people will use. It's a really cool feeling to know that the code I wrote last year is right now probably being triggered over and over by thousands of people, making their lives easier and better. And coding itself is fun! It's like a giant puzzle, and when you line every piece just right, you get magic.

What is the next challenge that you want to tackle?

The company I work for recently acquired one of its legacy partners, meaning a lot of new people joined us all at once, and as a tech lead part of my job is to help integrate them so we can all develop software together. It's not often recognized how essential people skills are in software development. It is very much a team sport.

Sabrina Kall, Tech Lead at IMTF
Sabrina Kall, Tech Lead at IMTF

What do you think needs to be done to encourage women to learn programming languages and coding? Does the education system need to be altered in any way? Do you have any other ideas on this?

I occasionally volunteer with the Girls Coding Club, a program to offer programming classes to preteen and teen girls on the week-ends, and it really showed me the impact of giving kids tools and projects to learn with. If the education system had similar programs on a larger scale, it would truly democratize access to coding, which by the way is nowadays just as necessary in STEM as mathematics or biology. If we can teach those in school, why not coding?

What advice would you give to women who would like to start a career in tech?

Don't be afraid to break stuff. When you're writing code, and making changes in your program, you're going to break stuff. A lot. Your program will get bugs, and then it will stop working altogether, and sometimes your computer will even crash. And that's okay. You can fix it, and you'll learn a lot by doing so. So don't be afraid to break stuff.

Thank you for your time and taking part in our little interview series, Sabrina!

You are also welcome to read our next interview in the Women in Tech series with Lei Zhu