Ioana, consultant, london


The journey from academia and a PhD to tech

For this month’s blog, we have spoken with Ioana Martinas, an Associate Consultant at Capco and part of the Next Gen October 2021 cohort, about her transition from academia and a PhD to a career in tech. The Next Generation fellows are a group of individuals who share the ethos that disruptive innovation creates a springboard for our clients to get ahead of their competitors. With a variety of backgrounds, including academic research and industrial experience, the group is based within the technology practice at Capco. 

In this blog, Ioana takes us through her journey into the tech world within financial services and shares her experiences at Capco that have led her to an incredible start of her career. Ioana has also been recognized for her contributions and leadership at Capco and awarded one of the prestigious WeAreTheCity TechWomen100 awards.

What sparked your interest in tech and inspired you to pursue this career path after your PhD in Cellular and Molecular Physiology?
While the chance to be part of cutting-edge research had driven me to pursue a PhD in Cellular and Molecular Physiology, I realised that a career in academia and more specifically research is not for me. During my academic career I had the opportunity to create computational models to study biological systems and used data analysis models to quantify my results. When I decided to step away from academia, technology and Capco seemed like the most obvious next step: Capco has a select program for PhD graduates, offering the opportunity to transition into tech and put to good use the transferrable skills accumulated throughout the academic career while, at the same time, providing the opportunity to gain tech skills.
How have you managed the transition between academia to a career in tech at Capco?

I would not necessarily say that the transition from academia into tech has been particularly challenging but that could also have something to do with the fact that I thrive in a demanding environment where I am constantly learning and trying to solve new problems. However, it has been and continues to be a steep learning curve of acquiring new skills while at the same time wanting to produce your best work. As a high achiever with perfectionist tendencies, I have had to accept the fact that this a new career and industry, and I have a lot to learn so I should be less critical of myself.
How have you navigated through support systems in place for people transitioning into tech?
The community at Capco has been incredibly supportive and I have been lucky to be part of teams that are incredibly diverse and offer each other help and guidance when needed. Furthermore, I have been given the opportunity to get involved in the Women in Tech at Capco community where I get the chance to interact with my fellow co-workers, creating an inclusive space where I have found a mentor and also made friends.
Finally, what top tips would you give to someone who want to transition into tech but might not have the obvious technical background?

I would say don't be afraid to make the jump; while it might be harder at the beginning, use your thirst for knowledge to learn and upskill yourself, and don't be afraid to ask for help. Capco, in particular, has a great support network and access to a multitude of resources that you can use. And while you might not have any tech skills, those can be learned. However, don't forget all the transferrable skills that you are bringing to the table – they are extremely important.