Meet CWiT Talent: Kayla Martell

In our CWiT Talent series you can meet professionals from across the industry working in various roles. Learn about their experiences and get inspired for your own tech journey!

Name: Kayla Martell

Company: IBM

Position: Software Engineer

Tell me about you and your role?

I’ve been at IBM since 2011, first as an intern, a part time student during my last year of university in Canada, and then as a full timer. I initially worked for IBM Canada and then moved to IBM ireland 5 years ago. I created the application called “SMARTER” – designed, development, implemented, and eventually had a 9-person team Working on the app with me as the architect and team lead. It was sunset last year and for 6 months during that period I worked as an architect on the your learning application and team.

Recently, I moved back to my old manager, Paul Zikopoulos, and am now a manager of 2 full timers and a few interns to create new applications like SMARTER again. 

My role is the team lead + architect of the project called EMMA. I’m also a full stack developer and designer, I create the wireframes, code in the front end and backend when needed, write up specs for the API and requirements, outline the vision of the project, and lead daily scrums, among other things. 


Tell me about your career path so far?

I think I mentioned some of this above — going from SMARTER, to your learning, and now EMMA. I’ve always been involved in starting new applications and teams for various reasons, mostly for the sales organisations. I’ve moved from a full-time developer to team lead and architect. I still do some development when I can, but mostly I design the system now.


What do you like about working in tech?

I like to create things mostly. Whether it be in art or technology. Being an architect allows me to basically create anything we can think of.  I’ve also been able to travel extensively and work from home for IBM for many years. This has been the main reason I have stayed with IBM. The ultimate flexibility to live my life how I need to without being tied to office commutes every day, and to be able to enjoy the beautiful weather working outside on a sunny day. Or going for a walk with my dog. 

Share 1 insight for someone looking to enter the tech industry?

You have to be prepared to both change constantly and know when to weather the storm. There are always new technologies emerging, replacing the old, so you need to keep on top of them, but just because something new comes out, doesn’t mean you need to rewrite everything you’ve done. Many languages come and go, and some don’t make it, so you’ve got to be ready to constantly learn about what’s available but make the best decisions long term. It’s often a balance between both. 

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