A strong community can promote new ideas and ensure accountability. It can also act as motivation, support and even provide a little friendly competition. The power of community is undeniable, and the Okanagan tech community is no exception.
Our community is strong and growing with record speed, and maintaining connections through a period of growth like this can be a challenge. Nobody panic. We’ve got a plan.
This is “The Faces of #OKGNtech,” a showcase of Okanagan tech entrepreneurs, partners, supporters and cheerleaders designed to fuel more connection, more growth and more excitement. Follow along on the blog and on Instagram at @OKGNtech to learn more about our growing community and what makes them awesome.
Meet Stefania. Stefania Valoroso is the senior user experience developer at Unity Technologies. When she’s not improving the user interface of UI creator tools, you’ll find Valoroso enjoying Kelowna’s restaurants, cafes and breweries, or exploring around in her Subaru.
Where do you work in the Okanagan?
I recently started with Unity Technologies, a global company that makes real-time 3D software primarily used for game development. Unity itself is an editor where creators build their products. One of the tools in the editor allows creators to build UI creatively, as well as allowing them to build plug-ins and features within Unity for their teams to use.
What do you do there?
I’m responsible for the UX (user experience) and UI of our editor tools. I’m looking at the product direction, general usability and user experience for those items. It’s pretty meta working to improve the UI for a UI creator. I think it’s a cool opportunity to ensure that someone who is unsure about product or game development is able to understand and use these tools to create what they want. Allowing more voices in the game development world is something exciting to me.
How did you get into this kind of work?
Shortly after high school, I knew I wanted to be involved in the tech world. I went to school at the Centre for Arts and Technology to learn more about web and graphic design, which started off my tech adventure. When I graduated, I was hired at the Walt Disney Company, which is where Club Penguin was made. I started in the customer service department but was able to move into roles more directly related to the game’s development.
What advice would you give to someone interested in a job like yours?
Say yes to a lot of opportunities. Earlier in my career, there were opportunities where someone would need help with something and I would volunteer to try and solve it. That’s how I got a studio engagement role at Disney—someone needed a poster to be made and I put something together over my lunch break using Microsoft Word. It wasn’t a part of my job, but it was an opportunity to showcase what I could do. That spun up a conversation, and I ended up working in that department for two and half years.
Is there something you’d like to see more of out of the tech community?
We need to have a wider mindset to make sure that everyone who wants to be a part of the tech community can be involved—not just people that look and work like you. We need to ensure that products and services are accessible, that people of all abilities are able to use the product in some way. It’s hard to address every single case, but doing something to show that you care and you’re paying attention is important. Even ensuring that emails are readable by screen readers or that contrasts on posters are appropriate can make a big difference.
The best piece of advice you like to share?
Really get to know the people around you and let them get to know you. If people understand who you are, they’re going to be able to support you and help you grow, and you can better help them in return. The best way to do that is to be yourself. It’s important to really showcase who you are and what makes you special. Doesn’t matter if it jives with everyone or not. Be authentic to who you are and you’ll be able to more easily connect with others around you.
Who inspires you?
The first person I think of is my older sister, Alex. She is a gender and social equity advisor, and has always been an amazing beacon of independence. She’s great at her job, and we always have great discussions about the world, our day-to-day experiences and how we can help others. She’s a really solid person to look up to.
Is there something you want to be remembered for?
Making a difference in terms of leaving something better than how I found it. Regardless of if it’s a social relationship, a brand or a product, I just hope that people can look back and see that I made a positive impact. It’s meaningful because it’s not just a benefit to me, but better for others.
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