"Sometimes, the path to your career can seem convoluted and less than obvious," says Tanya Candia. "But if you follow your passion," advises the international marketing and business management consultant, "you will end up where you're supposed to be."
Candia should know. Her diverse experiences include running a translation agency, and training the sales force of a high-tech start-up--by having them make margaritas. Honored in 2010 as one of Silicon Valley’s most influential women, she has written an inspiring account of her professional journey. The seventh volume in IEEE-USA’s Women in Engineering (WIE) E-Book series, Candia’s story features the many career and personal challenges she overcame, as well as the opportunities she discovered and seized, as she built her career.
All but the first volume in the series is the personal story of a notable contemporary woman professional. Each author discusses both the financial and social difficulties she overcame to obtain her education, and the opportunities she discovered while seeking to advance professionally. The first book is an overview of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) occupations.
Gerard H. (Gus) Gaynor, chair of both the IEEE-USA Communications Committee and IEEE-USA E-Books, says Candia is an outstanding role model to whom girls and young women can easily relate. He notes that her curiosity about technology and her drive to continually learn and build upon each new success should help to inspire readers who will be the next generation of female technical professionals.
IEEE-USA Publishing Manager, and Manager & Editor, IEEE-USA E-Books, Georgia Stelluto adds that every author in the series is carefully selected to represent a diverse cross section of backgrounds and professions. “Tanya Candia, for example, holds an M.S. in Systems Management from the University of Southern California,” Stelluto says, “but she has parlayed her technical expertise into a global consultancy that assists clients in areas ranging from startups to product strategy.”
Tanya Candia's e-book, Women in Engineering -- Book 7: Having It All: One Woman's Journey, relates the author's childhood in a small Kansas town where she pursued her early curiosity about science; her enterprise in seeking out both financial aid and temporary jobs that helped to teach her more about her own interests; her interest in communication and linguistics; her experiences in several technical positions, including as a software engineer; and how she trusted her instincts to follow a career path that has included key roles in helping to launch successful Silicon Valley startups.
At one startup, Candia had to train a sales force with no technical background on how to sell a statistical quality-control product. Realizing that training them would require instruction that was interesting, challenging and hands-on, she created the “Margarita Manufacturing Company.” After setting up a room with long tables, plastic glasses, a recipe, and the ingredients for the well-known cocktail, she divided the group into teams and had them make margaritas. A quality control group for each team rated the drinks on various characteristics of the libation, and then plotted each of them on charts. The author calls this experience her “wake-up moment,” realizing she could use her communication skills to convey complex technical concepts in a memorable way.
Since 2000, when she launched her international consultancy, Candia says she now gets to work with companies of all sizes and shapes. “I have clients around the world, and I am often in Hong Kong, Europe and the Middle East, where my clients are start-ups, or established companies with interesting projects. I can work from virtually anywhere-- including a villa in Italy, a village in northern Vietnam, and even the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro."
Despite her less-than-traditional career path, the author acknowledges a considerable debt to engineering.
"Engineering allows you to become an expert in your field," she says. "At the same time, it provides the tools and approach you need to continuously find and solve new problems." She adds that engineering teaches a person to learn--making you question things, instead of settling for the quick or easy answer. "The result of this quest is knowledge, understanding and a broader view of the world,” she observes.
Candia concludes, "The combination of a strong technology background, insatiable curiosity and the ability to communicate has enabled me to carve out a fascinating, ever changing career that lets me do something new every day, indulge my need for travel and adventure, and make a contribution to the world of engineering."
One more volume in the IEEE-USA Women in Engineering E-Book Series is scheduled to be published this year. It is Women in Engineering – Book 8: The Art of Self-Empowerment: Becoming Your Own Best Friend by Cisco software quality leader Punam Nagpal.
The first six in the IEEE-USA Women in Engineering E-Book Series are:
The first six books in the IEEE-USA Women in Engineering eBook Series are:
- Women in Engineering – Book 1: Inspire and Close the Gender Gap by L-3 Warrior Systems systems and software engineering manager, and IEEE Women in Engineering International Chair, Nita Patel
- Women in Engineering – Book 2: Passion, Perseverance and Making a Difference by Microsoft data analyst/program manager Maria Vlachopoulou
- Women in Engineering – Book 3: Passions Can Sustain You--A Personal Career History by consultant Sherry Gillespie
- Women in Engineering – Book 4: Follow Your Curiosities--Finding Success through Learning by James Madison University assistant professor Jacquelyn Nagel. Nagel was also the National Engineers Week Foundation's New Faces of Engineering — representing IEEE/IEEE-USA (2012)
- Women in Engineering – Book 5: Finding Self and Growth by Broadcom integrated circuits packaging engineer Melissa Lau
- Women in Engineering – Book 6: My Career, Your Career
Women in Engineering – Book 7: Having It All: One Woman’s Journey, by international marketing and business management consultant Tanya Candia.
Women in Engineering – Book 8: The Art of Self-Empowerment: Becoming Your Own Best Friend, by Cisco software quality leader Punam Nagpal. (Book 7 will be reviewed in a forthcoming article.)
More information about all seven IEEE-USA Women in Engineering E-Books is available at: http://shop.ieeeusa.org/. The member price for each volume is $7.99; non-IEEE members can purchase them for $9.99 each.
Helen Horwitz is an award-winning freelance writer who lives in Albuquerque, N.M. She was with IEEE from 1991 through 2011, the first nine as Staff Director, IEEE Corporate Communications.