Coffee Catch Ups: Elena Casciano
Updated: Jan 29
Elena is the General Manager of Code360 - an Adelaide-based company that delivers digital platforms for Australian Universities to engage with students for better learning opportunities. In addition to her day job, Elena is a Councillor at Campbelltown City Council, a Director at Rugby Union South Australia and Board Member of the Loreto College, Marryatville.
Elena and I sat down recently to discuss her upcoming talk at DDD Adelaide on 23 November 2019. When we did this interview, she was in the process of completing her talk and her passion for the topic had us talk for over an hour – I have included just a small portion of this conversation below.
First thing’s first – best coffee shop and what are you drinking?
Can you tell me about your career path into the tech industry?
My parents and the school [Loreto College] encouraged me to pursue what I was passionate about. I really wanted to do IT but they weren’t going to run the class due to lack of interest. So, I had to find seven other students who were willing to study IT. I coerced seven other students to do IT and we got the class up.
IT studies never felt like work and I enjoyed every minute of it. My family are very education oriented, I had to go to university and I found my passion in an IT degree at the University of South Australia who had a great course that inspired my career.
After university, I secured a role as an Analyst Programmer at the railways [now ARTC] and had a wonderful female mentor who encouraged me to apply for different roles in the business. I found that I was a “people-person” and I love understanding how software can solve problems, rather than building the software myself. So with that technical background, I took my career down an IT/business path which has led me to this role now.
What is your favourite thing about working at Code360?
Our customers, suppliers, partners and staff teach us something new every day. I never want to stop learning. I like to interact with people and create great software that makes people’s lives better.
What career advice would you give a graduate about to finish a degree in IT/engineering?
For females, call out behaviour when you see injustice.
There are such a small number of females graduates in IT – less than 20% of graduates are women. Engineering and STEM overall do appear to be growing [in science and maths] but IT is not growing.
It is such a missed opportunity for diversity in thought, skills and experience for our industry and the people working within it.
Females have a fantastic ability to be compassionate and understand users. Which, in UX, works so well and there are so many untapped opportunities to approach problems from a different perspective that we’re not taking advantage of.
Can you tell me a little about your talk “Where did all the women go?” at DDD Adelaide?
It’s an exploration of the trends of women in IT.
In the 1970s, IT jobs were dominated by women – they were coding the first computers, then all of a sudden all of the jobs were taken away from women and men filled those jobs.
What were the factors that led to this?
At the end of the talk I want to give everyone who attends something to do in their jobs to help them be a better developer, engineer.
What are the key takeaways from your talk?
We need more women to be involved in creating software, building AI, analysing data and designing UX because women will think about women when solving problems.
Women can help close gaps that wouldn’t have been thought about by men. Those of us who aren’t women will have some practical advice on how to identify gaps so that new ideas and opportunities can be unlocked.
Who would you recommend comes to your talk?
I hope it’s not JUST women who turn up, because everyone can benefit from this.
This applies to anyone working in the IT industry. This is pitched and aimed at everyone who wants to have their own ideas challenged. If you want to be a better team mate, manager, colleague, developer then this will be for you.
Which other talks are you most looking forward to at DDD Adelaide?
I’m looking forward to learning something new that will challenge my every day assumptions. I’m also excited to connect and network with some amazing talent in SA and more broadly. Lastly, I can’t wait to drink some good coffee with friends!
Elena is presenting at DDD Adelaide on 23 November 2019 at MOD. Tickets are available now at www.dddadelaide.com/tickets
Encode Talent (www.encodetalent.com.au) is proud to be the coffee cart sponsor of this event.