We’re highlighting the wonderful contributions of recent award winners recognized by the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). In this series, these women share how Intel supports their careers, offering them flexibility alongside opportunities to create amazing tech.
Lidia Warnes, a technical lead and platform architect in the Data Center Group, recently received the Patent Recognition Award by the SWE. This award recognizes SWE members who have obtained a patent within the previous three years—Lidia was recognized for obtaining seven patents! In the Q&A below, Lidia shares her joy for problem solving, her zest when facing challenges, and her advice for other woman in tech.
Q. Tell us a little bit about what you do and what a typical day looks like.
Working from home has challenged me to be much more efficient at multitasking. While being in the office allows for the separation of home and work tasks, working at home does not and as a mom and caregiver I find that I had to become even better at switching context quickly, planning time as efficiently as possible and taking advantage of the few moments without interruptions to learn new, challenging things.
Q. Tell us about your recent patent and the impact your patent may have.
I enjoy solving problems, doing research, and learning new things in fields related to existing or potential customer issues. Many of my patents propose new solutions for improving the memory subsystem reliability by finding ways to increase redundancy and/or by improving the system and error detection and handling. Other patents improve the memory subsystem capabilities: memory capacity, utilization, throughput, etc.
Q. Did you always know you wanted to work in technology? How did you decide to go into engineering?
I was always good at math and sciences – except for organic chemistry – and I always enjoyed solving problems. I also had a passion for learning foreign languages and studying history, which presented a large dilemma for me when I had to choose a career. I followed my parents’ advice and choose the engineering field that I thought would be most challenging for me: electrical engineering. This choice opened the door to a fulfilling career where I was able to do everything from hardware design to memory subsystem architecture, performance analysis, modeling and estimates, and platform architecture.
Q. Many women in the tech industry feel that their gender has affected the way they are perceived or treated. Have you also felt this and how did you handle it?
It is possible that being a woman, I may have had to work a little harder to gain trust and credibility in my field. But in the end, I think that this experience made me a better engineer and a better person. Knowing that the burden of proof for what I am proposing may be heavier, I tend to be more careful, check my hypothesis and results more thoroughly, and welcome the questions or scrutiny, since the resulting solution is likely to be a better one. I think this working style builds relationships based on trust where gender and culture are less relevant than the excitement for the new technology and the ability to contribute.
Q. What do you think is the best part of being a woman in the tech industry?
I enjoy the work that I do. The fast evolution of technology gives me the opportunity to always learn new things and innovate in new areas. In the tech industry one gets the frequent reward of seeing the technology they contributed to become a product used by a large number of people. I enjoy mentoring younger colleagues and seeing them succeed.
Q. Do you notice a lack of women in technology? If so, why do you think that’s the case?
At the beginning of my engineering career I did notice that I was outnumbered, and I saw this as a challenge to prove to myself that I can add real value in my field. Now, I see that the number of talented women engineers in tech careers has increased significantly. Looking at my current team I we have a balance of men and women engineers, which I think is great.
Q. Many women in the tech industry consider themselves introverts. Are you an introvert and if so, what is the most difficult thing about being an introvert in the tech industry? How did you overcome it?
It is very true that many technical people are introverts, the ones who are not are rare. I think that the realization that I was not the only introvert, that in fact many of my peers are as well, helped me the most. I was able to put myself in the other’s shoes much easier and use the type of communication that would have drawn me into the topic.
Q. What advice would you give to a woman considering a career in the tech industry? What do you wish you had known?
A career in the tech industry can be very rewarding and challenging. Since technology is advancing at such speed, one has the opportunity to choose a large number of technical fields and sometimes even invent new ones. The interaction between humans and technology is becoming more seamless, creating opportunities for combining fields that were thought to be completely unrelated in the past – machines are learning to translate natural language for example. Don’t be intimidated by challenges, once surpassed they are not challenges anymore, they just become problems we know how to solve. Don’t be too afraid of risks, learn from mistakes quickly instead.
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