Kiki (K): Hi everyone, it’s been a long time since our last episode. Galuh and I haven’t recorded a new episode in two month, we’re so sorry. Last month there was a long holiday for the Eid, and after the Eid I had a work week, and Galuh was away too. So it was really hectic. We’ve just got the chance to record a new episode now. But don’t worry, because now our guest is just as awesome as our previous guests. Galuh, do you want to introduce our guest today?
Galuh (G): So our guest today… I’ll tell you a bit about her. We have Desy Kristianti, a technology consultant in Deloitte. Desy is also a public speaker and is involved in many diversity efforts. We’ll talk about all this so stay tuned! Maybe next Desy kan introduce herself, where are you based, what do you do, and your activities.
Desy (D): Hello everyone, I’m so happy to have been invited to the podcast Kartini Teknologi. This is an honor. I’m from Bekasi, Indonesia, and I moved to the UK in 2012 to study and now I work in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
K: That’s interesting, so you’ve spent quite a long time in the UK right?
K: So you’re in consulting now, why are you interested in technology consulting? How did you get into the industry?
D: I went to a meetup and I met someone who works as a consultant. I studied computer science for my Masters, so I was looking for the jobs like software engineer or web developer. But when I heard about technology consulting, it seemed interesting, because their work depends on the project and is for a client. So every client is different, every project is different, and there will be plenty opportunities to learn different things. So that’s why I tried to apply for a job in technology consulting and I’ve enjoyed it so far, I’ve been in Deloitte for three years.
K: So because there are many projects that you’re working on, there are many different types. But is there any specific technology that you specialize in, like for example because you’re an expert in this you’ll have to work on this project?
D: Yes, so in the beginning there was a recommendation from several managers to get a training for a technology called Dell Boomi. It’s one of the applications for integration. For example, if there is a company that has many different applications, such as applications for order management, customer management… and sometimes nowadays there are so many application providers, companies are interested in many different applications, and sometimes they’re not integrated with each other. If there is a new order, we’ll have to connect to the customer database, product database, and sometimes even the employee database so we can tell who is the salesman that inputs this order. That has something to do with three or four systems. How do we integrate all of these systems? So what I do is I build APIs to integrate these applications. Does that make sense?
K: Yep. So far, what is the most exciting project or the project that you’re most proud of so far?
D: There are a few. Sometime ago I went to Belgium. Because the client was quite far, I had to be there from Monday to Thursday every week for a few months. So that was quite fun traveling there, seeing how it’s like to live in Belgium, although we actually didn’t live there right, we were working. But that was fun. There were also several fun projects because of the fun team or because there were many things I was responsible of. I like that, I like it when people trust me to do something. And whenever we know that customers or clients are going to use something that we build and this will have an important impact, I liked it.
K: Do you still remember one of the projects that you think is very impactful and is memorable for you as well? If you can share it, of course.
D: There was one client which technology wasn’t very advanced yet, so they still used Excel to put some information and sometimes they still had to print them and give them to other teams to be processed. So you can imagine that, for example if they want to move some information from paper to a computer they have to retype them and there could have been so many errors. Because of that, we create an automatic system, and it makes me proud to imagine how many errors could have been prevented and how the process was getting faster and more efficient.
K: So you found a way to automate the system so they could be more efficient, right?
D: Yes, because sometimes there could be many business logics. For example if the customer is a longtime customer we would give this discount, if the customer is new then there would be another price. Sometimes all of these have to be done manually, so they have to look at the table and see which logic is which. However, when it’s all automated, it will be way easier and faster.
K: How about projects that are most difficult and most challenging for you?
D: There was this project where the client was very busy. You know that if you want to create a project you need to know what the requirements are, what do you have to build. And more specifically, how the API has to behave, what code should be returned when the case is like this, or when there’s this error what should it do. However sometimes they (the client) are so busy, they don’t give us time to discuss with us each of these case or requirement. So sometimes we create it first, we suggest them, and they approve. But then by the end they would get confused, why is this like this? Why is there a requirement missing? But then again they didn’t tell us from the start, so.
K: So they have to communicate clearly from the start.
D: Yes, they have to be involved from the beginning.
G: I’m curious about the general workflow from requirement gathering, and then when can we say that the requirement gathering is done and we can start designing the API… what’s the workflow until we can say that, okay, this project is done?
K: You might have heard of agile working before, right? There’s something else named waterfall. So whether we want to choose agile or waterfall depends on the condition. If waterfall, then we start from designing, building, testing, maintenance, and then we’re done. But in agile, we do all of these steps but with iterations. So after we’re done building and testing, we’ll check what other requirements are missing? Is there anything that it turns out we have to rely on, like oh it should be like this. We’ll go back to designing, building, and testing. For my projects we follow the agile approach. Sometimes clients don’t know what they really want before they see something. So it’s easier for the requirements to be, what do you really want. We go from there, and then after we’re done building something we go back to designing, to the next iteration. Is this what you really want? If not, is there anything you want to add or remove?
G: Has there any been instance where, for example, you’ve set the time, the budget, but suddenly your client asks for something that might take longer or exceed your budget? What should you do as a consultant?
D: It happens a lot, I think it’s already in our blood. I think it’s not necessarily the fault of the client, and sometimes it’s also not our fault too. Let’s say that we want to build something but we need… a VM machine, for example. Sometimes we need to submit a request to the IT department, and maybe we cannot directly submit our request. We need to contact someone to submit the request, and maybe the process will take one week or two weeks. That can delay everything. Or maybe in the actual iteration they realize that, oh, they want something new that is more difficult. Or maybe the estimation is wrong and we don’t expect that there is a functionality or a bug that takes much longer to complete. I think it’s something that we have expected from the start, so when we are creating timelines or budget we have overestimated it, we have created leeways like “oh let’s have a small sprint after this”. Or when it comes to budget, we overestimate. If it’s still not enough, there is something called change request. So we discuss again with our client, oh this is what you want, this is the budget, this is how the timeline is going to be like, then they’ll approve and the contract is renewed.
G: I see. So it seems like being a technology consultant is very dynamic, from the variety of projects to the many challenges. What is the skillset that one needs to become a successful technology consultant?
D: Hmm… I think flexibility is important. There was one project where suddenly we all got called by the manager, everyone had to gather in one room, and there was the announcement that our project was completed in that day. There were many colleagues from India, about over than 10 people, who have come to the UK because they thought they would be here for a month. It turns out that the project was already completed and they had to go home. Or sometimes, for example there were no projects, we’ve finished our previous project and were waiting for the next one. On Friday we would be told that, oh in Monday you have to start here, you have to purchase tickets to go there and for some people it might be something that is pretty unusual, you have to do it and you have to be flexible so flexibility is important. Especially when you’re working with not only your team members, but also your client.
K: I’m curious, how big is your team actually? Does it depend on the project or what?
D: Depends on the project. But for API development we’re pretty efficient because we use programs such as MuleSoft or Dell Boomi, and there are already many steps that they automate so we do not need to build it from scratch. The team is pretty small, right now our team has five developers building 15-20 APIs in 6 or 7 months.
K: Okay, and for Deloitte itself is it only in Ireland or is it a multinational company?
D: It’s multinational, we’re part of Deloitte UK—I’m not sure how many are the staff but we’re part of Deloitte UK and Deloitte UK is also part of Deloitte North, South Europe so sometimes we collaborate with Deloitte from other countries in Europe. So for example I’m now working with colleagues from Portugal, and before that I’ve worked with colleagues from Romania, US, India, etc.
K: I see, do you work from your own homebase?
D: It depends. For some projects you have to be in your client’s place from Monday to Thursday. So whether you want it or not… we were already told this when we were applying, we were told that we’ll travel a lot. So everyone will travel. Or sometimes there are projects that allow you to go to your client’s place once in two weeks or once a month, but in Deloitte there are many remote working opportunities. So if there’s a colleague who has just had her baby, she wouldn’t be able to travel a lot right, so she doesn’t have to go to her client’s place often, maybe once a month because it’s different, meeting your client face-to-face and meeting them through Skype. So there’s always an expectation for you to travel, but sometimes it’s okay if you do prefer remote.
K: I see, okay, so we’ve just talked about Desy’s work as a technology consultant. Next we’ll be talking about another thing, which is public speaking. I myself first knew Desy from Twitter. I think there was this conference and I saw that the speaker is from Indonesia. Finally I followed her on Twitter and that’s how I knew her, from her public speaking and not from her professional job. So how did you get into public speaking?
D: It all started from meetup as well. So for you (who might not be familiar with meetup), meetup is not a dating website, it’s a website where there are groups with multiple interests. Not just technology—there are also groups for people who enjoy hiking, who like playing guitar, and when I lived in London there were so many tech groups for many different specific technology or women in tech event. So I went to meetups pretty often. There was one meetup for public speaking, and I was curious, I wanted to try it. Everyone was very welcoming and the environment was friendly, so I felt that actually public speaking is not that scary… compared to, you know, I don’t know how it was like for you in your school, but for me in my school there were so many tasks that required us to present but we were never taught about presentation skills, or how to delegate your tasks. Sometimes in a group there was just one person who would present, we don’t know if they actually do it because they really want to, or because they’re really good, or because they’re forced to. I never enjoyed presenting when I was in school. Trying out public speaking in meetups was a very different experience and I was nervous but happy to be able to share experience or knowledge with other people. That’s what I like about it.
K: Okay, so what else do you like about public speaking besides of sharing what you know, sharing your experience or sharing your knowledge? Is there anything else?
D: Maybe one of the more recent ones, if you’ve heard of Women Techmakers, it’s one of the initiatives from Google for gender diversity. There are a few groups in many cities in Europe and there was a conference specifically for Women Techmakers organizers, so we would go there and it was a very inspiring conference and I… I ran a session about improv, improvisation, so there were a few games and a little bit of… just letting ourselves go and being a bit silly, being crazy… it was really fun, and people told me that they really enjoyed it and they met so many new friends from the session and I really like that, I’m really happy that people were able to mingle with each other and network in a fun way.
K: Were you there as a speaker or as an organizer as well?
K: So you actually came up with the theme to make it more fun?
K: You go to conferences a lot and you’ve seen many talks from other people. What do you think is the most interesting thing from all tech talks?
D: What I really enjoy from listening to a tech talk is not necessarily a talk about a topic that I already understand. If the speaker has given the context from the start and made it relevant to the audience, for example they give examples that the audience can understand from the beginning and make us think, hmm that’s right. So the audience becomes curious from the beginning and they go on to explain “this is the solution” or “here’s what we’ve tried” or “here are things you need to pay attention for”. It makes us think, oh although we don’t use these technologies daily, these are quite interesting. Or we learn about other teams in our company who are working on these, oh so this is what they do.
K: Is there any speaker that is your role model or any speaker whose talk you always enjoy?
D: There’s someone that I’ve met a few times, her name is Claire Wilgar. She’s also from Belfast, Northern Ireland. And Claire is someone who is very passionate about frontend. She’s given talks on accessibility, how we create websites that are accessible for people with disabilities or even for us, what makes a website easy to use? That’s just one of her talks. There are many of her talks about frontend which are very interesting although I don’t work in frontend. She can always explain it in a way that’s very interesting for everyone and very inclusive. So I really like her.
G: I just want to add, I really agree that context is very important, for me personally because when a speaker is giving a talk, whenever they straight out mention terms or jargons sometimes we cannot imagine them… like why do we have to care about all these terms? Like what Desy has mentioned before—the delivery is interesting, the context is clear regardless of the audience so anyone can easily relate although I don’t have experience in frontend, but when given the context I can think that right, that makes sense. I want to ask this, you created a public speaking group in Belfast right? Can you tell us about what’s this group about, why did you create this, what are the activities…
D: This is actually quite related to the story I told earlier, so I went to meetups for public speaking in London and ti was very informal. If you’ve heard there’s another group called Toastmasters. For me it’s very formal and sometimes intimidating if we have just started public speaking and we want to learn and we’re afraid of getting nervous. So I want to provide a forum for people who might not be too confident or dislike being the center of attention, but they want to know how it feels if they’re given a space to just talk about something that they are passionate about, it doesn’t have to be serious, it doesn’t have to be… I don’t know… educational, but can help them to erase the nervousness. So this group is very friendly and supportive. What we do is impromptu public speaking, so they don’t need to prepare in advance, no need to write a two-page speech beforehand, the most important thing is they come and we’ll give them a topic. For example, the topic is chocolate. Just speak about it for two minutes, and they are free to interpret the topic in any way they want. So for example, if they like chocolate, they can talk about, oh, the chocolate that I like is this sand I would recommend it… or if they don’t like chocolate or are allergic to chocolate, they can say that oh chocolate is not good especially for health or it’s not good for your teeth et cetera. Or they may be experts in chocolate, they can say oh this is the history, this is how it’s made, where it’s from… so it’s very personal and it’s up to them, the most important thing is they can speak in front of a few people, because the group is small, usually we have around 8-15 people, so there’s audience but not too many people so it’s not too scary. Just get up in front of everyone and speak.
G: So it doesn’t have to be tech speakers right, I mean everyone can join regardless of their background or job?
D: Yes, the group is open for everyone, not specific for tech. Because Belfast is a pretty small city, the population is less than 300.000, so to create tech-specific groups the market is too small, especially for women. Because there are so many women here, women in tech, who are very smart and very talented, but sometimes they feel scared, they feel like “oh, I’m not brave enough”, or “I’m new”… there are so many other reasons. But if we encourage them a bit, try to speak in our meetup or in our next conference, I’m sure they can do it, and we also really want to learn from them. We need to give them a bit of a nudge sometimes. But it’s still hard.
K: I’m curious, do you have any tips and tricks to be able to do public speaking well?
D: I think if you haven’t done it yet, find a forum to practice. There are so many resources out there, like videos, tips, or articles… you can read them. But if you have never practiced, that’s different. Really different. Actually standing up in a room full of audience is very different from practicing in front of the mirror. So I really recommend you to find a forum for public speaking, be it Toastmasters or other groups you can find. Or start a new group. Just like group that I’m running. Anyway… yeah, practice to erase that fear. Because sometimes, I think, public speaking is just like speaking to our friends. It’s like me chatting with Kiki and Galuh, there are many other people who listen to our podcast too. So if you can relax, speak in front of others, it’ll make public speaking way easier.
K: So practice it is. Yes I think practice is the most important thing. I used to think that public speaking is not for me, but after trying it a few times, I think the key is practice. Continuous practice. People may think that “oh, they’ve done public speaking very often, so their public speaking is very good”. Well it has to be that way, you need to prepare and practice it.
G: A few people have asked me, they’re interested in public speaking but they don’t know how to find the topic to talk about. Like they want to speak but they don’t have any idea. How do you find your topics to talk about, where does the inspiration come from?
D: I think it depends. Again, going back to our conversation earlier, many women in tech are very smart and they must have something that they can talk about. But they feel scared, like, I don’t know everything, like how if someone asks a question that I can’t answer, or how if there are people who are smarter than me in the audience. But actually people who have spoken at conferences all around the world, they don’t know everything. They’re not 100% expert, they’re still learning too. So there must be a topic that you can talk about in a conference or even in a meetup. Tips that I get from… I’m sorry I don’t remember the name, but tips that I get from someone is that, there are three ways of finding a topic. First, find something you’re really passionate about. Maybe something that you’re working in at your job or outside your job. Number two, find something you really hate, for example if you use git and your team members don’t know how to use git, it might be something that makes you think “what should I do, people can’t use it”. So if you want people to know how to use it, you can speak in conferences or meetups about how to do it properly. Number three, find something that you want to learn more about. If you’re going to speak about it in a conference, of course you’ll research the topic further. It’s an opportunity for you to learn something that you really want to learn about.
K: So we have been talking about women right, especially that women rarely speak in conferences especially technology conferences. And I know that Desy is very concerned in diversity. If I’m not mistaken, you have this network or community called Women in Indonesia Career Network. Can you tell us more about it?
D: So Women in Indonesia Career Network started from my friends who had this idea, why are there not so many Indonesian women working in the UK? Because when they graduated, they didn’t know who to ask, or were confused about how to apply. Especially that they have to deal with visa, so for some people it’s not easy or maybe they don’t know that if they want to apply for jobs they need to do it one year before they graduate. When I graduated not many Indonesian people were working in the UK. So I didn’t know where to go or I felt like, I wasn’t smart enough to work here. That’s something that we want to erase. We want our friends who are already studying in the UK to feel inspired, “you can do it too”, to work in the UK. And… this is what it’s like to work in the UK. The industries are varied so we can share experience, tips and tricks and create a network for Indonesian women who are now working in the UK. There are not many Indonesians working in the UK, and sometimes we want to network with other fellow Indonesians too.
K: How many people are there in WIN?
D: IN WIN usually about 10-20 people come to our event.
K: That’s quite a lot. Or does that count as too few?
D: For me that’s too few for Indonesians who are women.
K: Are the events for members people who are already working in the UK, or also for people who are still studying, who are still looking for a job?
D: Our event is open for everyone. Men can also attend, because we also want to share, these are the awesome Indonesian women that can be your role models.
K: Are there many of them?
D: There are a lot of awesome Indonesian women here. For example there is my friend, Dorothy Ferary, she’s a lecturer and researcher in one of the universities in London. She’s done a lot of teaching, not just in her university but she also teaches Indonesian in KBRI (the Indonesian embassy). She once created a workshop in WIN and she was very inspiring, very engaging. I really like her style, she’s full of energy, so if you meet her she’s always smiling, she makes you happy, and when she’s teaching a workshop she’s very clear and she gets us interested in the topic that she’s teaching. I really like her. I really want to be someone like her.
K: So she’s one of the role models too.
D: Yes, definitely.
G: I want to ask this, you have a lot of activities right, from your day to day job, you’re also involved in communities, public speaking as well. How do you manage your time?
D: Sometimes I cannot manage my time. I think… I think you have to know what do you think is important, where you have to direct your focus to, what can you delegate to other colleagues. In the beginning, I really liked working on everything by myself. So sometimes there were tasks that I’d do because I want to do it, sometimes because I don’t trust other people too. But that’s not good. We don’t give our friends opportunities to learn if we’re the ones working on everything. So for example in communities or teams, what I’m trying to do is share the workload with others, so we can trust each other, and exchange ideas. Because sometimes you’ll get better results if you work with other people, right. So for example if you’re organizing an event or writing a blog post, definitely work with your friends or your colleagues to share the workload. And if there’s something that you really want to work on from different communities and all of the deadlines are close, recheck your priorities. Is there something that you can work on, maybe in the mornings or during lunch break, after work, or do you have to do everything in the weekends. Sometimes I also like going to events, instead of working I go to a community event, to a theater. But that’s important as well, right? You can’t work every time, you never take of yourself… you’ll get stressed. So it’s important to spare some time for something you enjoy, to have fun, to hang out with your friends. When you go back, you’ll be fresh, you can continue working on your tasks.
K: I’m curious, aside of tech, do you have other hobbies?
D: I do improv, improvisation, so it’s like theater but there’s no script. I started improv training from November last year, up until now, so it’s been 9 months. In our group which is called Hot Hot Bloom Bloom, we perform with nine people. So we come to the stage, we ask suggestions from the audience—it can be a location or emotion, or a profession—and then we act based on the audience’s suggestion.
G: So it’s really on the spot? You don’t even have five minutes to discuss something like, what do we do?
D: It’s really on the spot. So for example the suggestion is, I don’t know, volleyball, and maybe I want something like, let’s play volley. And maybe my friend wants to sell volleyballs. So we create scenes from these two people with different ideas.
K: How about the roles?
D: We create the roles themselves, and we have to figure out who our scene partner is.
K: That sounds exciting. How long is the duration usually?
D: Depends, there is something called short form, so for example the scene is only two, three, five minutes, also there is something called long form which can be up to 25 minutes or even 1 hour.
G: Does your experience from improv have any effect on your public speaking? For example, it becomes better or smoother because you’ve been doing improv?
D: Yes significantly, because improv that requires some skills, one of which must be comfortable if, for example, what we are planning for does not pan out. One skill from improv, we have to be comfortable if what we want doesn’t happen. Because sometimes there are suggestions, like the previous example, for example there is suggestion volleyball, I want the story to be like this, but my scene partner has a different idea, and that doesn’t happen. But I still have to perform it, I have to make a scene that is fun to watch. Well, sometimes public speaking is like that. I have practiced, I have to talk about this, oh, and turns out I forgot to talk about it and I’ve moved to the next slide. Then sometimes I continue to be nervous, so by the end of the presentation I became less enthusiastic. Well, but if we are comfortable with that, then it’s okay. For example, if there is additional information, maybe later someone will ask that question, or just post it on Twitter. It’s okay if there is something wrong, or it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t go with our plan. And it helps also if someone asks questions and that happens to be something I haven’t prepared, I will be able to quickly answer it.
G: This is also connected with the skill that was needed as a technology consultant before, like flexibility isn’t it? In a way it’s also similar right?
D: Yes. Improv is very helpful for communication, especially if the client asks for something we have not prepared. Not that we have to make up an answer, but we have to be prepared with a firm answer and not obey if we haven’t research. So we just say, oh that’s a good point, we once had a situation like this, but we will research first and I’ll come back to you. So it really makes you more confident.
K: It sounds fun. I haven’t heard of such thing in Indonesia.
D: Yes, I returned to Indonesia this February, I was looking for improv shows in Indonesia, wanted to see it, but I couldn’t find any. But stand up is now growing in Indonesia, so hopefully somebody will start improv in Indonesia.
K: But stand ups use scripts, right?
D: Yes, it’s different.
K: Okay, interesting. Okay, so what’s next in your planning for the future? In the near future, anything interesting?
D: Not yet, I’m still enjoying my work now and enjoying the current communities. I want to focus on the public speaking group, The SPUDS, because our members are now growing, so I want to make this group more… I want to make this group the best for them. Hopefully I’m also still involved in women in tech groups in Belfast and WIN Career Network.
K: Okay. Good luck for everything!
D: Thank you so much!
K: You have so many activities, it’s really cool.
D: But it’s exciting, I like it. So… I enjoy doing it.
K: Thank you so much Desy for chatting with us. Don’t hesitate if in the future there’s any project that you want to share, let us know.
D: Thank you, thank you for having me, and thank you everyone for listening.