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Women in Leadership
Job Name
Women in Leadership: Sol Lorences Reyes

When she was 15, Sol Lorences Reyes moved from her homeland, Argentina, to Spain, the country where she’s been living ever since. She studied law and business administration and used to work at a finance company, but something didn’t feel quite right. After she gathered the courage and decided to take a major spin in her career, somebody suggested web development and a new world opened up in front of her eyes.

Today she has a master’s degree in frontend web development and is a Team Leader in Templates, one of Avature’s biggest teams, with over 100 members worldwide who are in charge of developing customized portals, landing pages, and email templates for our clients—all fundamental pieces in their talent acquisition and talent management strategies.

Apart from leading a great and constantly growing group of people and projects, Sol enjoys reading and traveling to new places in her free time. She’s also a huge fan of the musical Hamilton and the color light purple.


How was it that you decided to make a drastic career change in your life and when did Avature become a part of that?

I started working at Avature 4 years ago, around 2019, mainly because I had decided to make a change in my career and my life. I studied law and business administration and, at the time, I was working at a finance company and I simply hated it. I was in the middle of a career crisis, so I decided to change paths and web development became a possibility.

At that time, a friend of mine had just moved to Madrid and she told me she was working at Avature and that she loved it. The idea kept sitting in my head for a while, so when I finished my studies in web development, I applied to Avature. I then joined Templates, a global team which at the time was quite small in the EMEA region, but growing fast.

When you decided to change career paths, why did you choose web development?

I remember a friend suggested it. He told me, “This is basically sitting and solving problems. Give it a try, you can start with an online course. You’re gonna love the industry.” And so I did.

I came from an industry with very traditional values, very structured, with predefined patterns you have to stick to. And I was sick of that, I didn’t want to be confined to a pattern anymore, in any sense. I wanted to go to the office wearing my pink glitter sneakers—and I actually did that on my first day at Avature! Luckily, both the work environment and the everyday tasks in the development industry have that in common: they aren’t static, rigid, there are no predefined patterns to stick to.

As a woman in a traditionally male-dominated industry, and particularly one who came from a different work environment, how did you feel at first in the IT world?

Well at first, I felt like any woman who’s doing something new and is not doing it perfectly: I felt I was never gonna make it right. I felt that I had crossed the boundaries that were socially established for me and that I was making a mistake. “This is not for me,” I thought.

But lucky me, I counted on the support of many people who encouraged me to go on, who told me that it wasn’t that hard, and that I could achieve whatever I set my mind to. Whenever my internal voice failed me, those external voices helped me go on, and that made the difference. When we’re kids and we’re learning to walk, we toddle, we stumble, we fall, and still we never think, “I’m never gonna learn how to walk” and give up. But when we’re grown-ups, we follow that logic many, many times when learning something new, and we even act upon it, but it’s wrong. Failing is just part of the learning process.

After 2 years of working as a style specialist, you became Team Leader. How was it that this possibility came up and why did you decide to take it?

It’s a good question, and one I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I believe it’s very important, when you decide to pursue a leadership path, to think about why you’re doing it, what’s your drive. In my case, I was already a senior member of the team and, even though I didn’t have previous experience in leadership, I had been helping my former manager with the coordination of projects and tasks, which was something I enjoyed very much. He later decided he wanted to stick to a more technical path, so that opened up an opportunity for me to take over the team management. I was keen on making suggestions to improve processes, ways of working, and this motivated me to give it a try to the role.

But as I took on, I realized that one of the most interesting aspects of being a manager comes from the human side of the role: listening, understanding, working actively to empathize, to be there for your team. This is something that seldom comes to mind when we’re offered a management position—many times seen as a “promotion” when it actually isn’t. It’s something I wasn’t really thinking about when I took on mine. And it’s basically what it means to be a leader. It’s the most comforting side of it, what really makes it worth it. Closing cases does not give you a sense of purpose; what actually does is having a positive impact on someone’s life.

This “human side” that you describe is definitely impactful, but quite demanding as well. What are the challenges that you face as a leader?

Of course it’s demanding because you need to deal with other people’s own expectations, fears, frustrations. You’re in a place where your role is precisely to push people forward for them to grow in their careers, to help and accompany them in their growth. But at the same time, it makes you learn a huge amount of things from their own achievements—be them big or small.

It’s also demanding because you need to always keep in mind where the person wants to go next and balance that with what the team needs. Luckily, at Avature, we can count on the Talent Management team to accompany us. Their point of view is key because they have a global vision of where the organization is, the different teams there are, and how all that can match our team members’ interests and skills.

And Talent is as much a part of our support group as our fellow leaders. When I became Team Leader, my former manager moved to a technical leader role within Templates and it was really important for me to continue having him in the team. I felt I could count on him and learn a lot from one another. Even though he wasn’t my manager anymore, he still continued accompanying me, supporting me in the challenges I faced. And that’s what being a manager is about: supporting people as they grow.

Do you also try to stay close to the technical side of the team? What do you do to achieve that?

I do want to stay in touch with the technical side of the team—it’s actually something I started to miss as I gradually left it behind. But in my case, since it was my first approach to leadership, I was so focused on the new role that I didn’t have the time nor the energy to also keep working on cases and staying in touch with the technical aspects of our tasks. Now that I am more comfortable in the role, I try to work on cases whenever I can, go to technical meetings. But it’s impossible to stay 100% connected to that day-to-day because, as a manager, you need to keep a macro vision of the team. And to do that, you have to take some distance from the day-to-day.

In fact, this is something that happens to many managers in Templates: they take on people management roles and later want to go back to a more technical position. I’d say it’s a very common move in the IT world in general, and it’s totally fine. It’s a socially constructed misconception that becoming a manager is a promotion and thus moving from a management position to a technical, non-management position is seen as a demotion, but that’s not true. Becoming a manager is not a promotion: it’s a career change. And if you go in that direction but later realize that you want to stop managing people and take on a different role, that’s fine too and it has nothing to do with promotions or demotions. It’s great that at Avature we do not have that vision of things. Leadership is not the one and only possible path to growth and this is why we shouldn’t see it as a promotion but a career change. I advocate for this vision every day.

How is it to work with such a big, global team like Templates, from a leadership perspective? Have you found any specific differences in terms of career goals when working with different cultures?

In terms of our leadership structure, in Templates, we have a total of 7 team leaders—6 of which are women—and there are also several technical referents. And even though we mainly work directly with our managers (there’s one in Americas and another one in EMEA), we also work together with fellow team leaders in our own regions. This is mainly because we work with similar clients and therefore have experiences, challenges, and objectives in common. And also from a cultural point of view—which is extremely important when it comes to leadership and career development—we find similarities.

I started leading a team composed mainly of people from Spain or Argentinians living in Spain (which is my own case), so I’m kind of immersed in both cultures—I like to say I know “the best of both worlds.” Today I also work with people from Portugal and we’re expanding to Poland, which comes with a discovery and adaptation process where we work with team members to get to know one another and build our relationships together.

It’s hard to generalize, but one thing I noticed several times when working with different people has to do with generational differences, especially in women. Younger generations of women come to Avature with a new mindset when it comes to self-evaluation. They have certain expectations as of their own performance which are different from those of people my age or older: we frequently tend to underestimate our own capabilities, skills, or achievements and to depend on external validation to reinforce our value. I notice younger women are more prone to value their own little victories without the need of having someone to tell them. I believe this is a reflection of how our society evolves and I admire them for that.

Going back to your experience as a woman in tech, and particularly a leadership position, did you find any specific challenges you can recall?

Inside Avature, I feel 100% confident, but I’m not sure it would be the same in other places within the tech world. Actually, before I started here, I did an internship in a place where we worked at a tiny office and I was the only woman. I didn’t feel welcome nor confident in that context. But some time later, I joined Avature and found lots of women, colleagues, referents, all people with very diverse backgrounds. It was a whole new world to me. I could finally wear my pink glitter sneakers to the office without feeling out of place!

While all this didn’t mean I had gotten rid of my impostor syndrome once and for all, it meant that I wasn’t the only one, that I wasn’t alone. And later when I took on the leadership path, I was also lucky to count on female technical referents who were there before me, so I didn’t feel anyone at Avature was judgmental or thought I wasn’t supposed to be where I was, but I believe that’s mainly because of Avature’s culture.

Moving on to the next steps in your professional life, where would you say you’d like to go next?

One thing I’d love to do is to mentor new leaders just the way I was mentored. I don’t think there’s “one way” to leadership that you can teach and that’s it, because of course, everybody’s different and you need to learn to be the leader that your team needs. You’re not “one” leader, but rather the leader each team, each person, and each context needs. Maybe that’s something to teach and pass on.

Also, there’s a sort of support I received from people around me when I became a manager that I’d like to give back to the world by being that sort of person for somebody else. I went through a lot of stressful moments, but I counted on many people on the process, and now I want to do that: to be there, to listen, to accompany, to help them take it easy, and remind them that they’re not alone, that they’re not the only nor the last one to feel overwhelmed, and that they can do it.

To wrap up, what advice would you give other women who’d like to pursue a similar career path to yours?

I’d tell them that their worst enemy can be themselves and their impostor syndrome. I’d tell them that whenever they doubt themselves, they should think that there are plenty of unqualified men doing that very same thing they think they’re not capable of doing—and that they so are.

Of course that “fake it ‘till you make it” doesn’t work. We need to stand on solid ground, learn, study, invest in ourselves. But once we’re there, we have to be assertive. So I’d tell them: don’t be afraid to step on somebody’s toes if that’s your role. We women are socialized to be “nice”, to avoid confrontation. But sometimes leadership roles tend to confrontation and that’s fine. As long as you’re respectful, you don’t need to limit yourself. Ever.

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