As winner of the Women in ICT Awards (WIICTA) Rising Star (Vendor) award in 2021, Maria Alcantara has adapted to new technology stacks at pace to enhance testing suites, automation frameworks and software development life cycles.
Leading from the front to “shift testing left”, Maria has revolutionised how Nintex operates both internally and externally through a commitment to technical speed, efficiency and performance.
How did you get into the IT industry?
I was hired as a part-time nutritionist in an IT company back in the Philippines to help it create a nutrition app. The app did not happen, but the company kept me on and offered me a technical writer position, so I was able to explore the hospital information system being developed which was the main product at that time. I was able to relate to the requirements and workflows since I had worked in the hospital, so I could make suggestions and corrections as I created the manual.
When a QA was hired, I was told that since I was already doing testing my job position would change to that title after a few months, and I ended up working full-time and enjoying the challenges of the job. And the rest is history.
What were some of your key achievements in the past few months?
In the past months I have successfully managed my team when our manager was away for a few weeks, with the responsibility of making sure that we complete the development of functionalities for our project and continue the project’s steady progress so that it will be available for advance preview to customers early this year.
This has been quite a challenge for me because I have never handled a big team or project. I was lucky to work with a high-performing team and look after each member of the team from the point of view of a manager. I was also given a chance to mentor an intern for a short time and introduce testing to her. It was a great experience, and I am grateful for the support and trust that everyone has given me.
Who or what has most influenced you professionally?
I am mostly influenced by the people I work closely with, such as our directors, managers, developers, dev ops engineer and fellow QA testers. When I see how they are doing their best to be better in every way and contribute to the team and the company, that makes me want to do the same. I want to help the team as much as I can – if I don’t know something, I will figure out a way to learn it, especially if it will benefit the team and our company.
What is the most surprising or profound thing you've learned or discovered while working in the IT industry?
I have discovered that the IT industry is continuously evolving. It is an industry that is full of opportunities. Everyone is welcome to become successful, regardless of race, gender or place of origin – it does not discriminate. As compared to the health industry, which I was a part of before, the opportunities for career growth are linear if not limited, even if you’ve studied well or have taken a lot of certifications. In the IT industry, however, people are very helpful and supportive in achieving one’s career goals.
What are your professional ambitions going forward?
I would like to gain more expertise in my field to the point where I can share my knowledge and become a mentor for the new generation of testers or IT professionals. I would like to give back to the community and support women in IT. I would like to continue working as a test automation engineer as well, because I find that I am fulfilled when I work with the team and contribute to the company.