English is the lingua franca of our globalized world making communication across cultures easier. The proliferation of English as a standard mode of communication in global business is a prime example of it’s impact. In the ever-evolving technology industry, an employee’s ability to communicate fluently with teams in different geographical areas can help yield higher productivity and more accomplished goals. To emphasize the importance of English language fluency in technology, we sat down with Voxy’s own Engineering Manager, Icaro Seara, who manages more than 12 engineering teams across Brazil, the U.S., and Russia.
- How did you begin your career journey as a software engineer?
I started my career in software engineering in 2008 right after I received my bachelor’s degree in computer science. At that time, I was selected for an intensive software engineering training program called “Microsoft Students to Business.” It helped me to understand how the computer science concepts I was studying in the University could be applied to solve real-world problems. By the end of this program, I was hired for an internship program for an enterprise software company.
- Briefly describe your role and how your position helps Voxy as a company meet goals?
I am a software engineering manager at Voxy. My main responsibilities are leading the architecture decisions to help Voxy’s product succeed, not only currently, but I also create the software foundation to support Voxy’s growth in the future. On top of this, I work closely with the engineering team members to mentor them to achieve their career goals at Voxy.
- As a manager who oversees multi-regional teams, why is English important in technology careers?
English is instrumental to succeeding in software engineering. In order to stay up-to-date with the latest technology, understanding and communicating well in one of the world’s most widely-used languages, English, is pivotal. Interesting fact, one frequently asked engineering career question I receive is: “Which area should I focus on to succeed in software engineering?” My answer is always the same: “If you don’t speak the world’s technology language, which is English, you should focus on learning it first, before diving into tech trends.” [Icaro adds, from there, teams can focus on getting certifications, which are generally offered in English to help them to stay on top of industry regulations and in preparing knowledge-sharing presentations.]
- What advice do you have for other managers who have to communicate with and manage global teams?
Managing a global team in tech is no trivial task. From my experience, the biggest challenge in managing global teams is communication. Different countries have different ways of communicating. [Managers also have to be aware of varying cultural norms that can impact communication.] Also, having a global team requires understanding different accents as well. Besides this, another significant challenge in managing a global team is time zones that make communication even more difficult. So, I would strongly suggest to always over-communicate. Also, I would suggest avoid having private conversations when making project decisions. You should document your thoughts publicly whenever possible. That approach helps all the team members have access to the same information always.
- What career challenges did you face before mastering English? In tech, being up to date with the latest technology is not only required but also expected. Before mastering English, I used to wait until the content was translated into my mother language to access the latest trends, which usually takes months. So, I was always behind other engineers who had proficiency in English. Also, after I was able to receive access to the information, the information was no longer relevant or was replaced by a new technique, which put me even further behind the others who had access to this information first.
- What opportunities did English provide that you may not have access to otherwise?
English provided me a chance to interact with the best talent in the world, eventually you reach a point where you can not reach those talents without speaking the world’s language. I believe talent is widely spread in every part of the world, so being able to interact with these talented people using a common language helps to get insights from the best minds in my field.
- Prior to Voxy, have you ever been on a team where lack of English skills caused miscommunication?
Sure it has happened before. To be honest, miscommunication is one of the biggest challenges I have faced before given the lack of English skills. There is a reason behind it, technical concepts are difficult to explain, it is even harder whenever you don’t communicate properly in a given language. Being understanding is a soft skill that is as important as hard skills.
Alexis is one of Voxy’s Marketing Managers. Part of the Marketing team, she helps showcase how Voxy improves careers and performance by breaking down workplace language barriers. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Business and many years of experience leading marketing strategy for multinational organizations. Prior to joining Voxy, Alexis was on the Global Marketing team at WebMD.