Everyone has a story. Sometimes, it’s a universal one that brings people together and cements that sense of community.
Constanza Catania, our Senior Frontend Engineer since 2020, is one of many at UP42 who took a leap of faith into a new continent, a new language, a new job and heck, a mind-blowing new industry.
We asked her about her experience, and one thing is clear: it’s always people who make a difference in someone’s journey along the learning curve.
Q: Tell me about your role at UP42. How did you get here?
A: I’m originally from Argentina, but moved to Berlin in 2017. I joined the company about two years ago and currently work on the tasking team, responsible for integrating and automating the tasking workflow into our platform. In the past, I worked in other product-focused industries and agencies as a full stack engineer but then decided to focus on the frontend because it was more exciting.
After some time in that role, I wanted a new challenge in a new industry. When I first saw UP42's job post, I had no idea you could do so much with satellite imagery! Then, during the recruitment process, I met so many people–not just from the technical side–that made me feel comfortable joining the company.
Q: How is this role different from your past experiences?
A: Back in Argentina, I worked mainly for agencies with clients in the media and publishing industries. It was very different. In an agency, you’re assigned to a specific client, and you only have a partial view of what goes on in the company. How involved you can be in the project depends on the client, at least from a development perspective. You don’t really know the product, just its software.
When you are instead part of a company, you feel like you’re building something together and have to be involved in all aspects of the product. You don’t just interact with the engineering department but also with marketing, sales, or customer support. I like to understand what I’m building to be a better contributor.
Q: Now that you’ve gained more experience in the geospatial industry, how easy is it for you?
A: I'm still excited because there aren’t many companies building products like this. We’re setting the standard for the future of this industry. We have this fantastic opportunity to create something new based on user needs. These can change over time, and we must understand how to improve.
When I started, I had to learn a lot, from terminology to workflows and other companies in the same industry. This, combined with the platform itself, makes my job extremely interesting. When we have to add a new feature, we get in touch with the experts and get their feedback, which is never the same for every new process! It’s more than just selling stuff. Anyone, even customers, can bring new ideas to the platforms. This makes a huge difference to me.
Q: Constantly dealing with new processes can be difficult. What challenges did you face at UP42?
A: In my case, the first eight months were particularly challenging. I joined during the pandemic and worked 100% remotely with a team I’d never met in person. I was trying to familiarize myself with the geospatial industry, get to know my team, and establish good communication with them. I had many questions, like “What does this mean?” or “How do we do that?” I had to learn all these new words I’d never heard before. So I tried to attend every Friday company-wide meeting to visualize our product, our providers, and the market itself. It took me some time to gain speed and be ready. Thankfully, all my colleagues were very friendly and never made me feel like mine were silly questions.
The second challenging but exciting thing is, well, the job itself. Requesting data from satellites is a complex process with many steps, and you need to fully understand the customers’ needs. It’s an ongoing challenge.
Q: How is this job fulfilling your needs, though?
A: I love the fact that I’m contributing to this product with my knowledge while also learning from it. I can also grow my skills because I’m surrounded by experienced colleagues. Being a part of the frontend team doesn’t make me feel stuck in my career. I appreciate that we can expand our knowledge beyond the technical aspects.
Another thing I value at UP42 is that we have many immigrant employees like me, which makes the company diverse and international. This made my integration much easier because we shared a similar story – you know, relocating to Germany, adapting to a new culture, and learning about the geospatial industry and the latest technologies.
Q: Where does this passion for technology come from?
A: As a teenager, I really enjoyed working with computers. In my last year of high school, I chose a programming workshop, where I realized that I could spend hours and hours coding. It was so much fun! I could build anything I wanted, so it was another way to express my creative side. That’s all I wanted to do. And I was lucky to start working in software development at a young age while studying for my Computer Engineering degree at the University of Buenos Aires. I got to meet and work with many knowledgeable people who were incredibly patient with me and inspired me to grow.
My family also played a big role. They always supported me 100% in my career choice, since I was the first engineer in the family. Engineering can be male-dominated, but they knew I could make it. They encouraged me to work harder and taught me that even if you don’t have all the resources, you can always find a way to reach your goals. “Sooner or later, you will do it!” they’d say.
I’ve always told my family I wanted to work abroad. After getting my degree, I took my time to enjoy my life and spend more time with my loved ones until the opportunity to move to Germany came along. It was time to start fulfilling my dreams.
Q: What would you say to engineers like you joining the geospatial industry without previous experience?
A: Everything in life has a learning curve. At the beginning, it's going to take more time to understand, but then all the pieces will start coming together. Many of us at UP42 don’t have a background in geospatial, so asking questions helps a lot. If I can do it, everyone can. There are no limits to learning new things in life.
As for women engineers in a male-dominated industry, it all starts with confidence. If you believe you can do it, even if the industry can be intimidating, you will. And I can assure you that I found many other women (and men!) ready to support me. I’ve been lucky to have colleagues around cheering for me. There will always be bitter experiences, but be confident enough to express yourself when that happens!