“The Devil Wears Technology” Blog Interview with Jessica Silva, IT Director and Clara Figueroa, General Manager, Nuestra Caja

Maria Pulice
Maria Pulice – Americas Client Communications Manager – Customer Success, Temenos

Hello fabulous women of the world.

In this edition of Devil Wear’s Technology, I had the pleasure of interviewing two incredible women executives of Nuestra Caja, aka NUCA. Jessica Silva, IT Director, shared with me one of her past experiences with gender inequality and how it made her stronger. I also had the honor of speaking with Clara Figueroa, General Manager – where she mentions how important it is for women to believe that they can ABSOLUTELY achieve anything. Not only did I have the amazing opportunity to visit them in their offices in Oaxaca, Mexico but I also had a chance to explore their pretty and colorful city.

This year marks NUCA’s 25th anniversary as a financial institution and they are celebrating their women’s program which they established in 2017 –“Lógralo Mujer” (Women Can do it!)

When I flashback to this interview, I keep thinking how lucky I was to conduct this interview pre-lockdown. So glad that I seized the day!

Enjoy, Embrace and don’t forget to … Empower!

Jessica Silva – IT Director, Nuestra Caja:

Tell us about your life: Where were you born? What did you study and where?

My name is Jessica Silva, I’m the IT Director here in Nuestra Caja. I was born in the city of Oaxaca de Juárez, I am a third generation Oaxacan and I am 35 years old.

I have always lived here in Oaxaca, I have traveled, but I did all my studies in this city. I have a degree in Information Technology from the Technological Institute of Oaxaca, the best public institution here in Oaxaca. Currently, I study English and I hope to get back to my masters in administration.

What was your first job?

I graduated from college in 2007, my first job was in the INEGI, here in Mexico, INEGI is in charge of the population census. I worked there as an IT technician, I worked for two months in Guelatao and other months in Tlaxiaco.

How did you start your career in technology?

It was by chance, I already knew of Nuestra Caja when I first submitted my CV. I used to work in the INEGI (National Institute of Statistics and Geography), I stopped working there and started job hunting. By chance, I heard that somebody was looking for a programmer and that’s how I started in Nuestra Caja.

Tell us a bit about your role at Nuestra Caja…

I started working at Nuestra Caja in 2007, as a programmer, after that, I got the chance to be supervisor of the Help Desk, then I moved up the ladder until 2016, when I got the position of IT Director.

It was precisely when I started working at Nuestra Caja that I learned about Temenos Transact (T24). And so it was on September 15, 2007, I remember the exact date, when a month after I started working in Nuestra Caja on October 15, 2007 when we went live with Temenos Transact (T24), it was because of the experience I had that soon after, I was promoted to Help Desk Supervisor, in charge of guiding the users of Temenos Transact (T24). So it was a challenge for me, to learn to use the platform in a very short time to guide the branch users on it.

Can you share one of your personal goals?

I have many goals, right now the more pressing is to be able to meditate, I started to practice but I haven’t been able to keep my mind blank. I think it’s very important to keep internal peace, but I haven’t been able to and that’s why it’s a personal goal.

Has it been challenging to work in a male-dominated industry?

Yes and no, mainly yes. Because, just as I graduated from college, I had an experience that taught me a lot. In the Technological Institute from Oaxaca, to graduate, you need to do an intership. I did my internship in a company I wanted to work at back then. I teamed up with a male classmate, we both had the same level of knowledge, same programing skills, and that was when I realized that I was in a male-dominated industry, because at the end of the project, what happened? He was asked to work there and I was asked to leave. At that moment I told myself, ‘No, I have to trust myself more’ In fact, there was a moment I lamented being a woman, but since then, I learned from the experience and now I’m grateful that I am a woman.

Regarding gender equality in Latin America, I consider that we have broken that barrier. Female empowerment is big now, we have had female presidents, company directors, a clear example is the General Manager of Nuestra Caja who is a woman.

Jessica Silva – IT Director, Nuestra Caja

Name someone influential or inspirational in your life.

It’s going to sound cliché, but today the most important person to me, the one who has been an inspiration to me is my mother. Because, when I was a child, my mother was a full-time housewife, without belittling that work, and I realized that I didn’t want that kind of life, which made me work harder to develop my career. After that, in my youth, she was also an inspiration, because even though she was still a housewife, she started a small business, she opened a store, started to sell things by catalog, she became a very active woman. The energy that she radiated was inspirational. Unfortunately, a few years back, my mom had a stroke and now she can’t move, but she is still an inspiration for me because now she communicates her needs by signs and that made me understand that the most important thing we have is our health.

What is the importance of female empowerment/gender equality in Mexico and Latin America?

Regarding gender equality in Latin America, I consider that we have broken that barrier. Female empowerment is big now, we have had female presidents, company directors, a clear example is the General Manager of Nuestra Caja who is a woman. In conclusion, is important, but I think we have broken that barrier.

What would you recommend to a young person who is just starting their professional career in this field? / What advice do you have for a young woman in a male-dominated industry?

The advice that I can give to a young woman at the beginning of her career, is that she needs to believe in herself. That if she doesn’t know something, trust that she can learn by reading and investigating. That’s my only advice.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I am a very active woman. I do a lot of things. I love dancing, salsa is my best, I like running, and I hope that in April I can run my first half marathon. I also do cycling, I like to go on motorbike rides. These are all activities require a lot of energy, but when I want something more relaxing, I take a book and go to a café.

Please share with us some words of wisdom your family has given you…

I don’t know if it is considered as wisdom, but I have always kept them in mind. And that is to strive. My father reminded me that all the time. He said,“If I wanted a different life, I had to strive for it”. “Striving day after day to be who you want to become”. And so it is like that for me.

Tell us something special about Oaxaca, Mexico.

Oaxaca is beautiful. If you have the chance to come to the Guelaguetza, here you’ll see that Oaxaca is a state full of culture and gastronomy. Year after year, I love to go to the local parade, where you can find different cultures, from small brunettes to tall fair complexion women, all of them beautiful and everything here, in Oaxaca. Different regions, but Oaxacan.

Words of advice from Nuestra Caja’s General Manager, Clara Figueroa

Hello, I’m Clara Figueroa, and I am the General Manager of Nuestra Caja. This year is a big anniversary for NUCA, we are celebrating our 25th anniversary.

Nuestra Caja was born with the product EDC, in 2007 we launched “Lógralo Mujer” (Women can do it). Most of our products and credit loans are focused on empowering women, so they can have a better quality of life and give their children a better education.

Women can do a lot for their families. We can help and contribute through our work. With the help of loans like the ones provided by Nuestra Caja, women can continue to grow and move ahead with jobs and new business ventures.

Believe in yourself, you can do it!

Maria Pulice
Maria Pulice – Americas Client Communications Manager - Customer Success, Temenos