Women in Tech – Computer Engineer and Heavy Metal Artist, Maria Siebecke

Melodic death metal and computer science are not terms we commonly associate, but for Maria Siebecke this juxtaposition of career choices blended harmoniously.

Maria was the driving force behind the formation of melodic death metal group Frantic Amber in 2008. Originally the all-female* band was created to bring more power and presence to the stage in contrast to more traditional all-girl bands.

So what sparked Maria’s interest in technology and melodic death metal?

“I had an interest in computer games and I.T. first which was closely followed by metal music. When I started playing in a band that took over my time for hobbies. The tech interest came back later,” Maria says.

“I grew up in a suburb in Stockholm with my mom. Since my mom wasn’t very technical I took on the role to problem solve I.T.-problems and it made me interested in computers. On top of that had older friends (mostly boys) that was into gaming which I became as well,” she says.

Maria originally studied Nature Science in gymnasium and then went into a physics program. She then turned around and started working in IT before studying again and switching to computer science.

She left Frantic Amber in 2018 and now solely works in the technology sectors as an applications manager, and developer coordinator.

Maria is certainly not the only person working in technology that originally pursued a vastly different career path.

“There is several people that work in I.T. and that also are into metal music and play in bands. One good example is the singer in my former band, Elizabeth Andrews. She studied to ballet dancer before she started as a metal vocalist. She later studied programming and are now working as a C# developer,” she says.

It is evident Maria is not the type of person you can pigeon hole. Quietly spoken yet assertive at the same time, Maria exudes an almost serene, regal-like presence but also pulses with raw energy.

And it is this energy and drive that she has been able to channel in both her careers.

“I think the teamwork and the rush when being on stage was my favourite parts to be in a band. The teamwork part is also present in my job as an I.T-consultant. The band had mostly female members since I liked the challenge to find and work with talented women in the metal scene, since there was so few of them.”

However, both careers have not been without their set-backs, but Maria has been determined to break any barriers she has faced.

“Some setbacks triggered me to go and on and push forward. Not sure courage is the right word….but sometimes what doesn’t break you gets you stronger. Not all women support each other; it’s the same as people don’t always support each other. There is both advantages, you stand out more as a female metal musician, and disadvantages, you need to prove yourself more and you get attention before you have the experience that you need for higher levels of band quality and band management.”

Maria lists Grace Hopper, Katie Bouman, Margaret Hamilton and Emma Watson as women that have inspired her on her journey.

“I think that they all are very strong and inspirational women. Grace Hopper, Katie Bouman  and Margaret Hamilton, are all great scientists. If I was to invite them to dinner I would like to know how they each found their interest of science and their story behind the scenes. Emma Watson is a very successful actress and still a famous advocate for women’s rights. I think that is a very interesting combination and would love to have discussions with her.

“I also admired other female musicians and had several role models. Bands like Runaways, Drain STH, Phantom Blue, Meldrum, and Kittie were some of them. Vocalists and musicians was Angela Gossow, Doro Pesch, Joan Jett, Lita Ford and Michelle Meldrum.”

Based on her experience in both the music and technology sector, Maria would offer the following advice to her younger self:

“Stand up for yourself even though people thinks it is weird or unusual. Think, what if you were a guy? Would anyone question what you are saying? It not just go for it and don’t care if it raises an eye brow or two.”

Despite having worked in the field of technology for many years now, Maria says new developments in the field helps keep the work “fresh and exciting”. In particular, she is interested in witnessing the benefits that artificial intelligence can bring to the industry.

“I think the digitalisation of company processes is the biggest thing for organisations and companies right now. It will probably generate more use cases for AI.

“With AI you can get everything from better optimisations to better user experiences”.

Maria’s parting advice to other women looking to join the technology sector is to continue to “empower and engage!”

“Do not get stuck in details or small problems. See the big picture and imagine yourself taking high road.”

Photo credit: Rickard Nilsson

*Frantic Amber is no longer comprised of only female members.

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