IvaLabs is all about technology, but I started out as an economist, until I realised what I’m really passionate about. It was a bit of an unusual journey, but it was all worth it! This is how it happened.
First things first
I’m Italian. So I was shipped with the obvious crazy-about-food and talk-very-loudly features as a default. My roots are in Sicily, which means that the ideal temperature for me is above 35° C. Oh, I loooove to complain about the heat! And I hate cold and rain. Which does nothing to explain why I decided to come live in the North East of England.
When I was very small, my father, a passionate engineer, taught me how to build simple programs in Visual Basic. I remember making a little game for my brother to learn his multiplication tables. He also was obsessed by budgeting on Excel, although he would never follow them in practice. He didn’t know it yet, but he had already given me the skills to land my first job two decades later.
Uni Years: Wrong on the subject, right on the learning
I started out studying Economics at Trento University. Not because I loved it, but because I knew nothing about Economics, and I wanted to understand the world around me. First-world problem no.1: Getting a degree in a subject you’re not passionate about.
After three boring years, I decided to continue on this path and got a Master’s degree in Local Economic Development at the London School of Economics and Political Science. First-world problem no.2: Persevering in the wrong subject. Nonetheless, I think great institutions give you more than just subject-related knowledge, so there was a lot of good things to take from these years. But what does all this have to do with technology??? That’s exactly the point: nothing.
Employment: Passions seep through (eventually)
Luckily, work experience was bound to get me on the right track. Before starting my Master’s I interned with the London Rebuilding Society. A social enterprise with great people, doing tons of good work. There, I had a lot of freedom in defining my role and it ended up having a lot of technology in it. Spreadsheets, coding (VBA), and designing. My manager there, Lana, is a kick-ass woman and an amazing human-being, and so is the CEO Naomi Kingsley.
The trend continued after my graduation, when I got my first job as an Assistant Research Analyst at the British Medical Association. There I met a lot of great people, and another great manager, Andrew. I owe him a lot, because he taught me how to be more effective at communicating and at decoding the political subtext in conversation. Once again, I mainly played with spreadsheets and code. Or at least that’s what I enjoyed the most. I wasn’t a great fan of all the research work, which I should have loved as an economist.
First Business: From India, with love
One year into my freshly started career, and I decided I needed a change. That’s where my husband, Nazim, played a big role. He was much more business-minded than me, and he gave me the courage to leave my job and start a business together. Where? In a place where our savings had much more power: Kolkata, India – where my husband was born and raised.
Our business idea was something very different, initially. However, as it shaped up, it became a web agency: Globbering. This experience taught me a lot, like the importance of choosing the right team and only taking projects that you can deliver. We didn’t do great on this aspect, and I still regret it to date. Most importantly, I was exposed to web and business technology, and I got hooked. I finally realised my true passion!
Learning coding and digital marketing
After almost two years, we found out that we were expecting our little one. That, for me, meant that I could no longer live in India. We tried running the business from Europe, but needless say it didn’t work out.
I was busy with a tiny baby and not the kind that quietly lies in his bouncer, or sleeps at all. I had no employer to go back to, but I had time. So I started studying and learning and practicing. I helped friends with their businesses, build projects on my own, and finally I started volunteering for a charity, Darlington Assistance for Refugees (DAR).
Up until then, I thought I had to fit in a certain job profile and pick one of the things I love doing. However, working with DAR I realised that my true strength is exactly being able to do so many different things. I figured that, like them, other organisations need someone who can do everything: from their website, to their marketing, to their content, to analytics, to setting up their CRM and emails.
That’s how I got here and how IvaLabs was born.