LiTTeral #5: Noyda Matos

Noyda Matos, applications architect – CNNMoney, never thought she’d work in technology. She wanted to be a lawyer. But when the Cuba native encountered educators talking about the joys of computer science at a local university, the experience forever changed her, inspiring Noyda to ditch her law aspirations and explore the world of mathematics.

Erica Reed, director – Technical Product Management, NBA Digital, who was featured in the last issue of LiTTeral, interviewed Noyda via Skype (Erica is based in Atlanta, and Noyda works in Turner’s New York office). The ladies of tech talked about Noyda’s journey into the field, how she overcomes obstacles, and her advice to young women who want to follow her lead.

“You don't have to wait for someone to tell you what to do.”

Erica Reed: How long have you worked here at Turner? And have you had just one role, or different ones?
Noyda Matos: It’s been almost six years, and I’ve been in one role, which has evolved over time. I'm a software developer, and every year I do different things. It's the same title, but new tasks, new challenges. It's exciting. (Since we conducted this interview, Noyda has been promoted to Application Architect.)

ER: What team are you on?
NM: CNNMoney. We support the website, always providing content or developing the front end for CNNMoney.

ER: What specific pieces in web development do you handle in your role, and what programming languages do you use on a daily basis?
NM: In the past, I used to work more in what they call backend. What I built would provide all the data and the JSON information for the mobile applications. Now, we're moving to full stack development. We go from providing the content to creating React components for the content.

Right now, we are using Node.js and React. Java was my main language back in the day, which is helpful at CNNMoney. Today more of our development is in Node.

ER: One of the great things about working at Turner is that your work is visible to the world. Millions of people are hitting CNNMoney and seeing your work! How does that feel?
NM: It’s great. I call my projects my babies. I say, "Oh, I'm so proud!" It’s truly a great sensation.

ER: Let’s talk about your educational background. What were your favorite subjects in school?
NM: For me it was kind of weird – weird in the sense that until college I wanted to be a lawyer. I wanted to be an international lawyer. I was born in Cuba, and I went to the open house at the university, and there I saw students speaking about computer science. It piqued my curiosity, so I decided to apply, and my parents freaked out, saying, "You went from law to computer science? That doesn't make much sense."

ER: So, you were born and raised in Cuba. What was your transition like to the United States?
NM: After finishing computer science in Cuba, I applied for my PhD in Spain; I lived and worked in Barcelona for a long time. Then the company that I was working for offered me a position in Corvallis, Oregon, and I moved to the United States. One day I visited New York, I fell in love with it and moved here. I kind of go with the wind, go with the flow in my life. You never know what doors will open.

ER: What an interesting journey…
NM: It really was. From Cuba to Barcelona, to Madrid, back to Barcelona, to Oregon, then finally to New York.

“The most important thing is to never give up.”

ER: What keeps you excited about working in technology?
NM: I think that it is beautiful in the sense that it’s like art. To me, it’s like painting. I’m creating something. I’m solving a problem, but in a really unique way. And that’s fun. 

ER: Looking back over your career, is there a big win or accomplishment that makes you smile?
NM: I worked at a startup that was created by a colleague of mine when I was in my PhD program, in Spain. It was an amazing group of people, and we were encouraged to have no restrictions. Anybody could bring ideas. That experience taught me you don't have to wait for someone to tell you what to do; it’s on you to bring ideas and fight for them.

ER: That's one of the things employees appreciate about Turner, too. Even though the work is deadline-driven, we still push ourselves to innovate.
NM: Yes, and it's amazing because other companies that are this big will tell you, "Oh no, don't even think about it. You won’t change the way we work." But here, our leaders encourage you to explore new technologies, new ideas. It's awesome.

TN: Did you experience any challenges in entering the technology field?
NM: In my experience, you just go and figure it out. If I had a wall in front of me, I would knock it down or go around it. But I don't remember anything that would make me say, "Oh, that was a difficult time."

ER: If you were talking to a young girl who may be interested in technology, what wisdom would you share with her?
NM: I would say give it a try, because you could be so creative in so many different ways. You can be thinking of it from the algorithm point of view, as far as how to solve a problem, but you could also come at it from a graphics point of view on how to design a page. There is so many flavors that you just need to find your place in this huge universe, because you will fit no matter what.

Another bit of advice is always follow your feelings, your gut. Don't stay in one place, and never give up. The most important thing is to never give up. Even if you face problems, find a solution. Let it rest and come back and try to fix it. Just go, be yourself and try. And when someone tells you that you can’t do something, go around it and find another way to do it!