Tara Hernandez: Building Teams To Create Dreams

Tara Hernandez: Building Teams To Create Dreams

Written by WWCode HQ With Thanks To Tara Hernandez

Member Reflections

Tara Hernandez wants to be the Head Coach for the US Women’s National Soccer team. But until she achieves that goal, she helps others live out their dreams as the Director of Systems Engineering at Linden Labs, the company that built Second Life, a virtual world that allows people from around the globe to socialize in new and innovative ways. There she specializes in creating highly productive and satisfied teams. An expert at fostering a fun and creative culture, she is always working to inspire people to reach beyond the bounds of code and tech to develop things that have the potential to change the way humans interact with one another.

Strangely enough Tara fell into the world of engineering through sheer luck. While she’d always had a head for puzzles and problems, it wasn’t until college that she discovered coding, and found that it gave her an outlet for her talents. At the University of California, Santa Cruz, she began to delve into the many riddles of technology, reveling in the enigmas that always needed to be solved through clever tricks, and creative logic.

While she enjoyed the curriculum, her time at UC Santa Cruz was still very much a challenge. She had a natural aptitude in some areas of study like graph theory and algorithms, but she struggled with others like compilers and hardware design. However that struggle actually made her a stronger person. It taught her how to ask questions without feeling ashamed, and also showed her what it meant to have to work really hard and fight to learn new things. Both of those skills would be important as she moved into the professional world.

Upon graduation she went on to work at a number of prestigious companies in increasingly important positions, including being the first build engineer for Netscape in the early 90’s, as well as working for both Mozilla, and Pixar. In her last job at Lithium Technologies she helped develop a cloud product deployment system that will hopefully soon be released as an open source product, a personal passion of hers as she is a strong believer in code that is available to the global community. She also works hard to support the people that join her teams, and takes personal pride in helping to foster prosperity in others.

One issue that Tara has faced in her rise to success is a case of impostor syndrome. While she has always had the skills to overcome any challenges that came her way, it took a lot of work for her to develop mental self defenses, and tame the anxiety that came when she was presented with a new project. Luckily she has had help and support from both friends and colleagues over the years that have motivated her even when she doubted her abilities.

Recently she was introduced to Women Who Code through an old friend and colleague and she immediately fell in love with the idea of the group. Getting involved with the organization has made her aware of the need for advocacy at a grass roots level, and she’s become more confidant brainstorming with peers and management teams about increasing diversity in her own work place. At the same time it’s helped her find the confidence to attend more conferences, and even start giving talks, although she admits there is always room for improvement.

While Tara may never be the Coach of the US Women’s National Soccer team, she’s made a huge difference by being a leader in her field. She has helped to build teams for dozens of projects, and is an avid supporter of the talented people around her. An advocate for diversity, and a natural mentor, she is a shining example of someone who has overcome self doubt to achieve success, while also helping those she works with to become the best that they can be.

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