Staff Profile: Beatriz’s Story

I’ve been a Software developer at Shadow since May 2015. I was born in Bogota, Colombia and double majored in Computer Science & Civil Engineering. When I started studying, my intention was to apply my software knowledge to solve civil engineering problems, but I fell deeply in love with programming that I had never worked as a civil engineer! After finishing my degree, I wanted to continue my studies in something related to artificial intelligence, but nothing specific was available at that time in Colombia; that was when I started to dream about going to Europe and looking for opportunities to make that a reality. I managed to start with an English course in London for six months not knowing that the journey would take me 13 years!

After studying English and working for a year in London, I enrolled on a Master’s degree in Autonomous Systems in a town close to Bonn in Germany. I lived there for 2.5 years learning what I had dreamed of and enjoying the friendship of great people. Then I moved to Spain, to Castellón, a small city near the Mediterranean where I lived for 5 years working for the GRASP European project and doing my PhD. I focused on simulation, studying robot grasping and comparing it to the human grasp. After finishing my PhD, I went back to London working as a postdoc at the University of Hertfordshire on the SCRIPT project, creating an exoskeleton to rehabilitate people that had suffered a stroke. Working there gave me the opportunity to get to know the rehabilitation robotics field, which ultimately made me realise that I wanted to switch to working in a more practical field to improve someone’s quality of life.

During that time I became pregnant with my daughter Isabella, and had a break after she was born. After a while I began looking for a job and a friend recommended me to look at Shadow’s website as he knew that the company usually participates in European projects. I saw that there were actually vacancies for software developers! Although I thought it was my dream job, I wasn’t ready to work again as my daughter was still too small. However I kept looking at the website everyday to make sure the vacancy was still there but a few days later the ad was gone…I panicked and sent my CV that night hoping for a miracle that there would still be vacancies. I was very lucky that they were still looking for another person in the software team, so I was invited for an interview and got the job!

Since then I have been working here. I love the company’s vision and passion about robotics and also I love the place and all the people working there. I also really like the way the software team is managed as we are are always connected and feel free to ask any questions at any time. It was very challenging to work and also take care of my baby as I had no family in London apart from my husband. My mum and aunt came to help me for some months but they couldn’t stay permanently. Fortunately, the company was extremely supportive from the beginning and I managed to work in London for more than a year enjoying the work and learning new things everyday.

However, I felt really lonely and needed my family a lot, especially when Isabella was sick, so I decided to move back to Colombia where we’d both have a better quality of life. It was a difficult decision after being in Europe for so many years and knowing that the state of the art of robotics in Colombia is nothing compared to the one I have been used to. However, as always, when I told Shadow that I wanted to go back, they were open minded and were willing to consider allowing me the opportunity to work remotely.

After living in Bogota for a few months, I couldn’t be happier. I am still enjoying being part of the software team, doing what I love and at the top of the robotics field with a lot of exciting projects. I get to be with my family and now I have plenty of help with my daughter. To accommodate the time difference, my day starts around 5am (which is 10am London time), so it gives me the opportunity to work more or less the same hours that my other software team colleagues do. I have breaks to have breakfast and get Isabella ready for her nursery and to pick her up. I finish work at around 2:30pm, have lunch and enjoy the rest of the afternoon with my family. I still have lots of things to learn, especially to follow Ugo’s advice in terms of working remotely, plus improving my productivity and time management, but I am learning everyday and trying to improve constantly. Although, it has been challenging to get used to working remotely and accommodating to my country again, I find the experience very gratifying and I am deeply grateful to Shadow for allowing me to keep being part of the family!

Enjoyed Beatriz’s story? You could begin your own story with us – start by visiting the Vacancies page to see what jobs are available!