Written by: Nadia VaillancourtInterview by: Audrey Pe
Encouraging women to pursue STEM careers is all well and good, but without a platform to develop, tech start-ups and the people who work for them are put at a disadvantage from the offset. MyOffice, the first Filipino-owned shared virtual office space, has been providing a way to do this since 2004. MyOffice provides an innovative and mobile solution to entrepreneurs and start-ups who need an office space with manageable expenses. Members select the features they want, such as receptionist services and small workspaces, and can tailor their office space to maximize their efficiency.
Georgianna Carlos is the proud owner and operator of MyOffice. “Though we are not considered a tech company per se,” she told us, “we are very much involved in the community as we have many members who are tech start-ups.” Despite not being strictly a tech company, MyOffice is geared towards integrating office space with mobile technology, allowing people to work from anywhere. “MyOffice is known to be the space for mobile workers and entrepreneurs.” According to Georgianna, “it allows them to choose what type of services they want and work as if still in the office.” This elegant and progressive alternative to typical office spaces is especially needed here in the Philippines, where sluggish traffic impedes productivity on a daily basis.
“MyOffice is known to be the space for mobile workers and entrepreneurs”
As a woman in tech, Georgianna is a strong advocate of educating young people about technology in order to help empower girls to pursue careers in those fields. Although hers is not, as Georgianna puts it, “purely a tech company”, she did tell us that “I do realize the importance of being exposed to technology at a young age” in regards to how being a woman can affect one’s journey in tech. “Back in high school, I never had classes that focused on both the hardware and software aspect of technology while my boyfriend was able to study robotics and he ended up studying engineering in University,” Georgianna recounts of her journey towards a tech-related career. “Though I will never know if I would have ended up running a different business,” she admits, “this type of exposure may have been a game changer and influenced some of my peers (or even myself!) on the type of careers we would have chosen.” Getting young people, especially girls, involved and interested in tech at as young an age as possible is a sure-fire way to increase the number of women who go on to have careers in STEM. In a highly digital age where children have access to technology from their earliest years, one would image that many young people – including girls! – have an interest in tech. However, stigma is a silent killer. Girls are often not encouraged or advised to take science or technology-based classes, and many are conditioned even subconsciously to believe that technology ‘isn’t a girl’s job’. By introducing them to classes like robotics that inspired Georgianna, this can begin to change.
When asked about what improvements she would like to happen in the field of tech, Georgianna again reiterated the importance of education. “[I] would love to see it start with education,” she told us. “I came from schools with a more theoretical based approached but I think having a real application of technology would have helped me understand and appreciate the field more.”
“If she wants to learn something, she will find a way to do it.”
MyOffice was founded in 2004 by Milette Carlos, Georgianna’s mother, who is a huge inspiration to Georgianna. Milette studied and graduated in the field of nutrition, but has always had an interest in technology; “She taught herself to basically become an engineer” said Georgianna. “I remember when we got our first computer, she was the one who disassembled it and put it back together,” recounts Georgianna, “When her iPhone battery broke, she replaced the battery herself.” Milette should be an inspiration to all women in tech – even if you aren’t studying tech, there are still ways to pursue your STEM passions! “Even though she has no experience in technology, she didn’t let that stop her,” Georgianna stressed, “If she wants to learn something, she will find a way to do it.” This attitude is undoubtedly as important, if not more so, than an education in technology for those who want to pursue it. “[My mom] is much more “techie” than a lot of young engineers I know!” Milette’s tenacity and practicality inspire Georgianna, but what strikes her most is her mother’s perpetual drive to learn about the world around her. “She isn’t afraid to learn new things and she remains curious of the world.”
“[My mom] is much more “techie” that a lot of young engineers I know!”
Georgianna’s main message for girls who want to pursue careers in technology is to never give up because every mistake is just a way to do better next time. “Remain curious and take every obstacle you face as an opportunity to learn and grow,” she told us, “Don’t be disheartened when things don’t go your way or if it seems that you are going through more roadblocks than your contemporaries.” Like any other career, pursuing STEM can be exceedingly challenging, particularly for women. However, like any other career, staying determined is the most vital ingredient for success. “Finally, if you really want something but the option isn’t available to you, find a way to create your own opportunities.” Georgianna once again referenced her mother’s inspiring story: “My mom is a nutritionist but she created her own opportunities to learn technology.” Milette’s efforts have not been for nothing: not only did she found a successful company, but she helped her daughter become involved in tech, which led Georgianna to help craft MyOffice into an innovative and clever solution for entrepreneurs and tech start-ups everywhere. “It is through that headstrong attitude that my mom opened opportunities for me as a woman in business and in the tech start-up world,” Georgianna asserts. “Maybe the opportunities you create can open doors for future women in tech.”
Learn more about MyOffice here: http://www.myoffice.com.ph/ & https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=13&v=QyNT9xnRVtM
Nadia Vaillancourt is a high school student at the British School Manila. Nadia hopes to help educate people about the experiences of women in STEM, and encourage all women to pursue their dreams to study or work in whatever field they want.