Meet Rachel Pagdin of Team Guadalajara 2018-19: Digital Upskilling in a Conflict Zone

Meet Rachel Pagdin (MGA’ 20) from Team Guadalajara Digital Upskilling in a Conflict Zone

You recently moved to Guadalajara, Mexico to work as an Academy Program Manager at Wizeline. Can you tell us more about your role?  

As a global technology services provider, Wizeline is committed to engineering a better tomorrow through the digital products and platforms we build for companies like Etsy, Disney, and Google. While I’m no engineer, I was drawn to Wizeline because of the work it does in Latin America. One of the company’s core operations is Wizeline Academy – a program offering free community education programs on the most in-demand tech skills. As a program manager, I ensure the Academy is providing value to the community and reaching people for whom training is typically inaccessible. I work on big-picture strategies and help bring programs to life.

How did your experience in Reach inform your career path [e.g., your case study focused on Digital Upskilling in a Conflict Zone in Guadalajara – how (if at all) did this impact you seeking an opportunity after your Reach experience]?

After graduating with my Masters in Global Affairs at the beginning of the global pandemic, finding a job seemed an impossible feat. I searched LinkedIn daily for opportunities in my Canadian network and came up empty-handed for months until I set the search radius global. While most companies were in a freeze, Wizeline has been experiencing rapid growth, helping other companies adapt and go digital. When I saw the job at Wizeline Academy pop up with two connections in my network from Reach, I was elated. And the cherry on top: my Reach case study was in complete sync with the job description. 

Can you tell us about an exciting project or initiative that you are currently working on?  

A 2021 global survey demonstrated that female software developers are greatly underrepresented, accounting for just 5.31 percent of positions in this field.  With Wizeline’s commitment to representation on our team, and in the industry as a whole, I am working with our Diversity & Inclusion office to put together the Academy’s 2022 strategy for supporting women in tech. While we currently offer free leadership certifications and power skills workshops tailored to women in tech, 2022 will be about actionable change, developing more accessible opportunities to bridge the persistent gender gap in the tech space.

What takeaways or skills [personal or professional] did you gain from your Reach experience that you are applying to your work?  

In my Reach case study, I was researching the connection between access to technology and socio-economic development. I realized that for a lot of people, technology can feel inaccessible; however, when people overcome their fear of inability and explore their capabilities in tech, it can open up innumerable opportunities. 

This takeaway is what drives my work today. My role at Wizeline Academy is a direct extension of my Reach project, as I help people overcome the barriers that often exist in the tech industry and unlock their potential through education.

What is your fondest memory from your experience in Reach?

One of my favourite parts of the program was the opportunity it presented to work with a diverse team. While I was in University, the community I was a part of was relatively homogenous – everyone was studying the same thing, shared common interests and beliefs, and had similar goals. Reach created a space for collaboration with people from different departments and backgrounds, and from the community as well.

What advice would you give to current Reach researchers working on the ITESO case study who have just begun desk research and discussion with the students and faculty at ITESO? 

With a cross-cultural team, you have the opportunity to learn from different perspectives, ways of life, and ways of work. Do a lot of listening, be flexible, and make sure to not underestimate the intricacy of the community dynamics in which you are researching. 

Take advantage of the network that this opportunity provides. The ITESO community is made up of big-thinkers, innovators, and game-changers. Get to know your team, and try to make as many connections as you can!

What advice or words of encouragement would you give to someone who is interested in applying to the Reach initiative and working on an ITESO – Reach case study?  

Reaching the hardest to reach is a challenge we all know exists, but few attempt to tackle. By focusing on the last mile, Reach is highlighting the voices and needs of communities that too often go unheard and unmet. Being a part of a project with this as its focus was transformative. 

Don’t hesitate or doubt yourself, apply! It’s a fantastic opportunity, with the potential to change the course of your life, and my story is a testament to that.