Celebrating Function1's Women in Tech: Meet Gnagna Marianne Konate!

Gnagna Marianne Konate, Senior Consultant for our WebCenter Sites team, started coding at age 6 (!) so it's no surprise that she turned her lifelong passion for technology into a successful career. In her interview for our Women in Tech Series, she emphasizes the importance of offering encouragement to colleagues (and just how much of an impact kind words can make!) and challenging yourself to continuously learn new skills. 
Tell us a little about your role at Function1. 
At Function1, I am part of a crew of very talented developers who help clients successfully implement fully scalable enterprise content management systems. It is mostly backend work but can become full stack depending on the client's needs and/or requirements.
What do you find exciting about your job?
The challenge. The sweat. The solution. CSS! These are my main motivations. No two implementations are the same and that is where the excitement lays. From discovering and communicating with clients - to leading them towards the most cost-efficient solution - to building the system from scratch.
How long have you been using WebCenter Sites?
I was acquainted with WebCenter Sites when I worked for Fatwire (before it was acquired by Oracle along with what was once called Content Server) after I earned my master's degree in Computer Sciences in 2008.
What was your path to working in tech, and did you have role models or mentors along the way?
Growing up in West Africa, I started coding at age 6 on a Macintosh. I found myself mesmerized by the shapes I could build with a few commands. My mother bought me a tiny notebook on which I would write down my instructions and operations. It was not long until I started optimizing the number of commands needed per object. A few years later, I was building relational databases for Non-Governmental organizations in Dakar (Senegal) while studying full time in high school. Coding is my passion. Next to soccer, of course.
As a woman in the tech field, what challenges have you faced (if any)?
Every now and then, I meet fellow developers who do not know what I can or cannot do. First impressions are not always based on work but pre-judgments. Usually, us ladies are pretty quick at setting the record straight. What better way than to do a terrific job?! Walk the walk and talk the talk.
What’s the best business advice you’ve received?
A former colleague of mine at Fatwire (Chandra Busireddy) used to encourage me every single day. At the time, I was a newbie WCS developer and learning the product stack. Any little work that I would do, be it write five lines of code, he would say: "You're the best Marianne! Thanks a bunch!" Those two sentences carried me through the tough times ever since. His words gave me the energy and confidence that I needed. They also made me realize how important it is to also help those around me. Give encouragement and help with powerful words when you can. They do not need to be technical. Being a great communicator is half the battle. 
What advice would you give a young woman looking to work in tech?
I would say: get a part time job while in college. It gives you an edge when it comes to competing for the "best" position or just "any" position. The same applies to anyone looking to keep their passion alive: continue learning. Never tire from it - even after school. We live in a world where technology shifts every 2-3 days. Amazing platforms are built every day. Use them. Play with them. Create your own little project. Re-engineer one that you are curious about. Two words: Have Fun!
What do you think is the biggest barrier for getting women interested in the tech industry? Any thoughts on how to get more women interested in tech?
At a very young age, someone put me in front of a computer. When exposed to the multitudes of possibilities, women can then choose what best suits them. Children need to know more than just playing computer games or using tablets. We need to teach them that it's not magic; someone actually built it - and they can do the same. They can learn to code early. Actually, there are amazing programs out there that teach just that in a fun environment.
I hope that our Women in Tech Interview Series has inspired you as much as it's inspired me! While we've identified many common themes (i.e., believing in your abilities, developing a desire to constantly learn, and establishing dedicated mentors), it's interesting to note that everyone's journey to a career in technology has been very different, offering unique perspectives regarding life as a woman in tech. As Women's History Month comes to an end, we look forward to highlighting all of the talented women at Function1 throughout the year and to continue to do our part in helping to close the gender gap. 

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