"I find a way to do what others can't" - Marcela Vladîca

31 Jan 2024

7 min read

Marcela image
Marcela image
Marcela image

Marcela Vladîca started defying what was possible way before she became the Global Head of Solutions Engineering at DigitalGenius. As a young woman growing up in Moldova, she challenged stereotypes by choosing to pursue Computer Science. People told her that was not the place for women, but she persevered.

When did you start to become interested in tech?

I had Informatics in high school and I was the one helping everyone build these HTML pages and basic Pascal applications. I am from a small city in the Republic of Moldova. I usually say we’re 10 years behind the rest of Europe. At that time, for us, knowing HTML or the basics of a programming language felt like being a “hacker.” I really enjoyed it. I helped with Informatics homework not only for my classmates but also for students from my sister’s school. Following this, I decided to pursue a university degree in Computer Science in Romania. However, upon commencing my classes, I quickly discovered that it extended far beyond the realm of HTML. It was a shock, everything was totally new for me, I feel like I cried the entire first year.

Did you have anyone in your family that worked in Computer Science?

No one. When I finished high school, my family and even some of my professors didn’t quite get how big “IT” was. To them, studying Computer Science meant only becoming a programmer. One of my school professors said to me: “Marcela, what are you doing? This is not for you. You are the one who likes to speak; you should be on television”.

What did your parents say when you told them you wanted to do this?

If I told my mum and dad that I was going to study Mechanics, for example, they would support me. They’ve always supported me in everything.

If just a couple of years ago there weren't a lot of people in Moldova and Romania studying computer sciences, how was it being a woman in this scenario?

I studied Computer Science in Romania at the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca, where we were only six female students among about 30 students in our group. We felt pressure from some professors, who would directly tell us that tech wasn’t a suitable place for women, but we were determined to show them that, yes, we can do it. I just knew I needed to go forward. I could not afford to give up on this university. So I didn’t have a choice, I had to continue or not study at all.

Now I understand why you said you spent that first year in university crying.

I studied in the humanities profile in high school, where I only had 1-2 hours of informatics per week. The rest of the time, my focus was more on subjects like literature, history, and foreign languages, so mathematics and physics were really challenging for me during my first year at the university. Luckily, I made Romanian friends and I asked them to give me their high school books - Math, Physics… I learned what they already knew and tried to be at the same level. My goal was to go to Romania and study, so that’s what I did.

How would you explain what DigitalGenius does to someone who is not very tech-savvy?

We automate processes to help customer service teams perform better by reducing their backlog, improving workflows, and helping them to deliver exceptional customer experiences. We use AI and advanced technology to make online shopping easier and customer service more efficient.

The company is growing a lot and really fast. Why do you think that is? 

First of all, we have a good Sales team that brings in the customers. And then we have the Service Delivery team, that I am a part of, that provides really quick solutions. A good example is the latest chat deployment for one of our customers. We delivered it quickly without any issues. It was the fastest I’ve ever built a chat. We value our customers and we deliver quick solutions. 

At Digital Genius, we have three teams: Sales, Service Delivery, and the Product team. There’s a strong connection among us. In big companies, to update something in the app, you need to raise a ticket and someone from the developers team will come back to you in one to two months. In our case, we simply message our developers when we need their assistance, and they respond quickly to help. We have this connection and teamwork. If something is broken now, everyone will help and it will get done by the end of the day. 

The team you’re leading, are they mainly men?

Only men. In recent months, there has been a limited number of women applying for this position. Maybe this role is still new to people, I don’t know. Women don’t apply for some reason. 

What would you say to people, especially women, to make them come work for DG?

I would even recommend my sister to come work at DigitalGenius because of the innovation factor of it. You know, we’re always on par with the latest technology. So, first of all, for innovation and second for the people. We are seen as humans, not as resources. Working full-time remote, I had never met anyone in person but I was so attached to everyone here. It’s like I had known them my entire life. But last December I got to meet everyone at the DG Annual Summit!

Considering that there are still very few women in jobs similar to yours, what would you like to say to women who are not sure about what they want to do in terms of career?

My sister wants to get into tech, but she’s not sure if she can do it. I always tell her, and I’d say the same to other women: “You’re smarter than you think.”