While she can’t say for certain who inspired her passion for tech, TAM Mariel Formoso knew she wanted to pursue STEM from a young age.
She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in geological engineering but changed course after graduate school and enrolled in the VMware Academy. The Academy opened her eyes to the hands-on challenge of working with customers in IT, as well as the extracurricular service-learning opportunities available at VMware.
She now works as a TAM based in Madrid, where she uses her technical and interpersonal skills to help customers maximize the value of their VMware solutions Complementing her work, she’s obtained certifications such as VCP in Data Center Virtualization, Desktop Management, Cloud Management and Itil v4, in addition to IT focused coursework on cloud an DevOps from MIT.
She’s also passionate about helping the next generation of IT talent identify their potential in the industry, working with her VMware colleagues on two initiatives that educate aspiring young professionals.
Changing the narrative
Mariel grew up knowing she wanted to be an engineer but wasn’t encouraged by everyone she met along the way — including a tough physics teacher who told her she didn’t have what it took to succeed.
Her parents motivated her to believe in herself and pursue engineering anyway. “My parents told me straight, ‘Don’t listen to him. If you want to be something, you do it because we believe in you and just do it if you like it. We’re gonna support you no matter what.’”
After joining VMware full time, she decided to be a “difference maker” for other students deciding whether to go into tech. She joined VMware Iberia’s Academia Multi-Cloud, which sends staff members to universities to give master lessons on the cloud, networking, cybersecurity, and more. They also educate students about opportunities at VMware.
However, Mariel began to see the need for another initiative that was targeted toward young women interested in tech. “We were seeing a lack of representation and we started addressing these. How is it possible that such a popular job field that has many jobs and positions and is a flourishing sector has so little representation from women?”
Now, she’s working with another colleague to develop a women-led spinoff of Academia Multi-Cloud that helps high school students between ages 14-15 explore careers in IT. The program is in a pilot phase, but Mariel hopes it will help clear up common misconceptions about tech.
“STEM is a very popular field to cover and there’s nothing because you think it’s too difficult or you think, ‘This is like a man’s job or a guy’s job and I’m not interested in these.’ We want to demystify it for them and make it clear that they will have a good career, and they can develop passion for these topics like we did and see representation also.”
She can who believes she can
Mariel is passionate about increasing opportunities for women in tech because she remembers being one of the only women in her computer science courses, an all-too-common experience for many.’
While she doesn’t wish some of her experiences in the field on other women, she believes tech is moving in the right direction. “This is more or less what I see as a woman in tech, but I’m also very positive. I think with more information and more spreading the word, we will get there because it’s an amazing effort.”
She advises women going into IT that it will take hard work, but the end result is rewarding. She also offered the following advice: “Don’t be afraid. Don’t think that you cannot do it. Don’t think that it is difficult and you’re not gonna make it because that is not true. If you want to do something and you believe in it, I think you should take it and own it.”
Building for the future
After years of hard work, Mariel is proud of where her career has landed and glad that women’s contributions in tech are being recognized more than ever.
“In the end, I believed in myself. I was there for a reason, and I was doing my best. I had to work a lot because I was not coming from an IT or telco background. I had to study, I had to work extra out of my office time to compensate for that lack of knowledge.”
She’s also happy to find herself in a workplace opening more doors for women in the field.
“I also want to say how being a woman doesn’t interfere with my career success. While there’s still improvements to be made, our VMware leaders advocate for inclusion, diversity, and advancement of women. I believe I can develop myself and advance my career at VMWare with no blockades because I’m a woman.”
“I want to develop myself here because I believe there’s a change here,” she emphasized. “If not, why are we doing all of these things?”