Emerging Leader Spotlight: Maria Stoica

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Every month we ask an emerging leader we admire to share what she is doing to take the lead in her career. We invite her to share how she achieved her current position, what obstacles she encountered on her climb, as well as tips for how to be a rising woman of influence.

This month we shine the Emerging Leader Spotlight on Maria Stocia, Software Engineer with Microsoft.

Emerging Leader Spotlight: Maria StoicaFavorite Quote:

“If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.” —Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Why did you choose your current career path?

So that I can bridge my castles in the sky to reality. From the moment I first saw programming in action I knew this was the quickest way to build anything I could think of. So, I plunged right in. Once you start thinking algorithmically, you start taking apart everything you know and putting the pieces back together in new ways. Pretty soon you find your mind challenging the limits of human knowledge with your questions. And if you try answering your challenges, that’s when the fun starts.

My mission is to expand humanity’s abilities by forming the human-computer symbiosis in which people guide the machine’s processing power with their creativity. This is a vast goal, but I have broken it down into sub-missions. The sub-mission I am focused on now is helping girls build and keep their confidence so they can be their own hero. It is one of the interconnected causes that I truly care about.

What is the most important thing you have learned that has been critical to your career success?

Coming up with a specific question when confused. In this context, a question is a sign that you’ve realized (and accepted) where your understanding is and where you need to go next to achieve your purpose. If you’re trying to understand a system, exploratory questions are the best.

It’s suicide to just nod and smile and pretend you understand and say to yourself “I’ll figure everything out later, on my own.” You’re part of a team now and time is precious. Play to your strengths and ask for help if you’re stuck; a person can teach you in 5 minutes what the documentation would in an hour. Ask for tools and techniques to help yourself when alone. There are people that will gladly help you, but they cannot read your mind. Ask!

What steps are you currently taking to develop yourself, professionally?

1. Expertise: I’m on my way to becoming a pragmatic programmer, which is my field’s name for professionals, by learning the best practices in software development and product design.

2. Productivity: I keep challenging my productivity because with the right tools I can increase my limits. By tools, I mean organizational techniques, self-awareness questions, software, study techniques, anything that will get me deeper understanding or faster solutions.

3. Exploring: I thrive in diversity so I read books on topics far from my daily work (rational fan-fiction, psychology, linguistics, creative writing) which usually end up revealing new perspectives on my work. I also travel, snowboard, review books on Reader’s Favorite and engage in relaxing crafts such as origami, bookbinding and metal model building. Ideas fuse in strange ways to create innovation so I keep my mind a propitious environment for this to happen.

4. Sharing: Participating in group discussions on pre-defined topics such as productivity or solving a certain problem. People put their experience and opinions on the table to inspire and be challenged to improve. The more diverse the people’s backgrounds and their field of expertise, the better.

Read more from Maria, Want to become a leader? First, find your cause.

Connect with Maria on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Angie Klein

As Operations and Marketing Manager, Angie Klein is responsible for maintaining the day to day operations of Women’s Leadership Coaching, Inc. and Be Leaderly.com. Angie manages all aspects of training program logistics, registrations, SEO, social media engagement and customer service.

Follow @kleina2012 on Twitter.

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