My name is Konstantina Pantagaki and I come from Greece. I grew up in Crete and that’s where my family still lives so I spend most of my vacation time there. I was raised to be independent and since a very young age I loved reading all kinds of books.
What area of technology did you study?
I studied Electrical and Computer Engineering at the National Technical University of Athens and I later moved to Sweden where I got a Master’s degree on Human Computer Interaction at KTH.
What drew you to your study area?
When I was a teenager I wanted to be a software developer. The first time I though that would be cool was after watching a movie where a hacker was hired by CIA to help them arrest a criminal. Around that time my parents bough our very fist computer and after I started using it I got hooked. My dad taught me a few things that he knew about computers but I learned most of it on my own. When it was time to choose a university, I told my physics teacher that I was planning to become a computer scientist. He then told me that engineers are way cooler and encouraged me to apply for Electrical and Computer Engineering instead.
What role do you have now, and what was it about this role that made you choose this organisation?
At Inicio I work as a Service Designer and Events Coordinator. Before working for Inicio I was volunteering as a mentor for 2 years so I had a very good insight and was impressed by the good work that was being done and the impact that Inicio was having on teenagers’ lives. Through my daily work I am striving to create useful and flawless experiences for our events and workshops participants. My goal is to remove all the barriers when it comes to technology so that the students that join our workshops get a taste of what working in tech looks like and how it can be fun and cool.
Where did you work before Inicio?
Before working at Inicio I worked for a start-up called Addresya (https://addressya.com). The business is a start-up in Stockholm that worked with people in Kampala, Africa to create an app that helps people in underdeveloped areas get to an address. We went on a field trip to Uganda and Rwanda to develop the app. You can create a digital address you can share with emergency services, delivery people etc.
It is connected to your location but it has extra info like colour of the house, nearby landmarks – it helps people find you where there are no street names. The app was just released yesterday!
Who is a person close to you that has “shaped you” the most in life?
Growing up I was lucky to have the full support of my family. They always believed in me and supported me in achieving any goal I would set. There were also a few of my teachers that helped boost my confidence and made me believe that I could get the good grades I needed to pursue an Engineering diploma. And I did!
Which famous people have inspired you? If you had to invite three-five people to dinner who would they be?
I don’t really follow any famous people very closely. What mostly inspires me and gives me a reason to keep going is to see the impact of my work and how people are benefiting out of what we do every day. Students saying “This is so cool” or “Look what I did!” is the best inspiration to keep improving. As for the dinner, I am not the most social person. I don’t usually enjoy spending time with people I don’t know so I would pick a few close friends (not sure if this is something that should go public 😀 )
What do you wish you had known before entering the tech field?
When I started studying I was thinking that I want to spend the rest of my life doing programming and I was a bit confused when I realised that it’s not really my thing after all. I now find more interesting to design interactions in products and services that are meaningful and useful for the users. And who knows that might change later on. It’s ok to not know what exactly it is that you want. Discovering new talents and interest helps you grow as a person and it never gets boring.
Have you faced any barriers in the field of technology, and how have you dealt with them?
My advice is that if there’s something you like just go for it. Don’t let anyone tell you, you cannot do it. If they do, prove them wrong. There are only very few occasions that I myself have felt that as a woman in tech I was viewed in a different way compared to my male colleagues. I truly believe that the quality of your work is the best way to prove yourself and that’s what I am always trying to do.
What general advice about life do you wish you had been given?
I have always been very ambitious and I didn’t like disappointing my family and those that were believing in me. Even now I have a hard time dealing with failure and I can be a very harsh judge of myself. One thing I wish I was better taught was to allow my self to make mistakes and to give myself a (mental) break now and then. I am working on it 😊
Where do you think the future of technology is heading?
I am not the kind of person that gets easily exited by buzz words. What I would like to see more in the future is technologies that make our everyday life simpler and more social innovations that make the world a better place.
What excites you the most about the future of technology?
I am looking forward to seeing how technology in the future will make our lives easier and better by enabling us to use simple solutions to solve complex problems.
If you had to give yourself a pep talk everyday what would you say to inspire yourself?
“I believe in you, you can do it!”
Favourite Inicio workshops
Anything hands-on where the students have to build something. It’s always very inspiring to see how amazed some of them are by what they achieved. It’s a real confidence boost both for them and for us organizing the workshop.