Software Engineer, Cloud Engineering
Gabriella Suarez began playing the piano at age six. Pursuing her passion and her art taught her the value of practice, creative thinking and timing. And, while a career in music wasn't in the cards, those skills helped her find—and thrive in—a more pragmatic career: software engineering.
Suarez is the first of her siblings to graduate from college, an accomplishment that brings with it a host of challenges and expectations. But those musical skills she learned in childhood continue to light her path both personally and professionally—particularly when it comes to the value of being patient with one's own growth and development.
What does success look like to you?
To me, success is the contentment I feel when surrounded by the people I love. Family and relationships are important to me: I was raised around supportive and compassionate people who took care of each other, and—for me—having those relationships and support is a big part of a successful life.
I'm also very goal-oriented and driven in my career, so professional success for me means being good at my job. It's less about how people perceive me, and more about how I perceive myself. I don't think success should come at the expense of other people. Perhaps that also goes back to being raised in a compassionate and supportive environment.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
My parents have had the biggest influence on my life in every way possible. In particular, they taught me – through the example of their own lives – the value of having a strong work ethic from an early age. One thing people can never say about me is that I'm lazy, and I credit my mom and dad for instilling that sense of purpose and dedication to hard work in me. The drive to do something well and to completion has been part of my approach to just about anything since I was a child. Thanks, Mom and Dad.
What is the biggest obstacle you've overcome in life?
Honestly, imposter syndrome. I was the first one of my siblings to go to college. When I went to college, I had this haunting feeling that I'd never finish. That I would never make it. I went to school for electrical engineering, which was tough. But in a way that paranoia became an important motivator for me. It drove me to succeed and press forward. I now know that much of that fear came from not knowing what success looked like in those situations: in high school, in college, and then in the intimidating and competitive professional realm. I didn't really have any reference points to grasp onto, and I always felt failure was around the corner.
Now, after three years of real-world experience, that feeling of being an imposter is washing away because I've achieved my goals and have more confidence. I know I'm fully capable of reaching my personal and professional objectives. In fact, now I actually regret having all of that anxiety because I feel it was self-inflicted. But I also know it's in the past.
What do you consider the most valuable piece of advice you've ever received and where did it come from?
I don't live by any specific quote or advice, but I do live by some general principles. My favorite is one I learned from my mother: Intelligence will only take you so far; hard work will be more beneficial to you. It's good to be smart, but don't rely on that alone. Without passion, dedication, a strong work ethic and an ability to collaborate well with others, the power of intelligence is very limited.
What made you choose your current career path?
My dad. Well, actually, the electrician standing near my dad. I've played the piano since I was six and always had a passion for music. My family didn't have the kind of money to send me to music school to be a professional musician, but I was always good at math and science, and one day I asked my dad what I should be when I grow up. My dad didn't really know what to answer, and kind of pointed to an electrician next to him who was fixing something in our house and said, “Be an electrician so you can fix these types of problems." So I became an electrical engineer.