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Stacy-Marie Ishmael Making Waves in Tech
Trinidadian-at-large (as she calls herself) Stacy-Marie Ishmael recently made Business Insider’s 30 Most Important Women Under 30 in Tech list.
As the saying goes, ‘there’s always a Trini in everything’. Don’t know who said it, but if no one copyrighted it, can I call dibs on that? Ishmael is out there in New York City, making waves in the world of technology. She is product manager at Percolate, a long and exciting way from her days as graduate trainee at the Financial Times in 2006 – not saying that those days weren’t exciting also. At Financial Times, she was the founding editor of FT Tilt, an online publication that analysed Emerging Markets. However, this was short-lived; FT decided to close down FT Tilt. For loyal readers, it ended with Stacy Marie Ishmael’s “With thanks from the FT Tilt Team: The End” message on Tilt’s now archived website.
Ishmael decided to quit her job. This was the end of her past life as a finance journalist and the start of new things. When one door closes, another opens; Ishmael started job hunting – talking with other media companies and even contemplating returning to Trinidad and Tobago. But she didn’t, instead she accepted an offer by a friend to come work at Percolate. The company is all about a fusion of technology and media – her two loves, so she stayed. She is also the founder and blogger at Galavant Media. Then there’s Liming House, Vibes It Up and Awesome Women, a newsletter for professional women. She is also a visiting lecturer at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. How she does it all, we don’t know. All we know is, she answers her emails almost as soon as you press ‘send’. Probably she built a time machine or something – after all she’s a techie. Christine Dalkan chatted with Ishmael a bit to find out more about her and less about what she does – since that’s already all over the Internet.
WomanWise: Where were you born?
Stacy-Marie Ishmael: In San Fernando, born and raised.
WW: Did you live in Trinidad for some time and then migrate?
SMI: I lived in Trinidad until I graduated from Naparima Girls' High School, and then I moved to Europe.
WW: Where do you currently reside?
WW: Where did you attend school?
SMI: Maria Montessori, Waterman's Preparatory, Naparima Girls', L'Université de Franche-Comté, London School of Economics and Political Science.
WW: What year did you graduate?
SMI: Naps - 2002, LSE - 2006
WW: What led to you being in the IT field? Is it something you always had passion for or did you dream of being something totally different?
SMI: I was very fortunate to have been exposed to computers when I was still very young. And that my parents were quite patient when I 'temporarily' took them apart or tried something that meant the computer wouldn't boot up until I figured out how to fix it. I loved computers and gadgets and the Internet and 'social media' before it was so called. There were two chat rooms I spent hours and hours in - #trinidad and #ole_mas. I still remember my ICQ number. But in an alternate universe I have a pHD in Literature, am an expert in Shakespeare and his contemporaries and a professor at Cambridge. A girl can still dream.
WW: What’s a typical day for you like?
SMI: Wake up by 6am, check my email, check Twitter, spin class or yoga, check my email, check Twitter, spend most of the day solving problems and working with amazing developers and designers, check Twitter, look guiltily at the pile of books I haven't read, scan a few articles in my Instapaper queue, check Twitter, check email, sleep. Repeat.
WW: Doing a Google search on you turns up so many things, it seems you’re a finance journalist, you blog, you are Product Manager - you are so many things. How do you do it all?
SMI: Finance journalist in a past life, yes. I'm also a visiting lecturer at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. I am a big believer in always operating outside your comfort zone, challenging yourself to learn new things and try different experiences. I have a wide range of hobbies and interests and these roles reflect that.
WW: You seem intent on conquering everything you set out to, do you see yourself gripping the reins of any new endeavours in the future? If yes, like what?
SMI: Conquering is such an aggressive word, and for me, a misleading one. I enjoy challenges. I relish having to go from not knowing anything at all about a topic or theme to developing some degree of expertise. I hope someone does this before I do, because I think Trinidad would hugely benefit: open a co working / studio space for artists, writers, designers and other creative professionals on the island.
WW: Can you please tell us what is - Awesome Women, the Liming House and Galavant Times?
SMI: #awesomewomen is a newsletter I wrote and edit and a series of events for professional women of all ages around the world. You can sign up here: ttms.us/awesomewomen
You found the Liming House! Good work. The Galavant Times is an occasional newsletter I use as a launching pad for essays and blog posts and ideas I'm testing out.
WW: I loved your post on Galavant Media ‘Your Users Know When You’re Only Pretending to be Personal’ (and I mean I loved it *grin) What are some of your other pet peeves?
SMI: Hahahhaa. People who post nothing but wrong attributed inspirational quotes to social networks. No, Bob Marley did not say “be the change you wish to see in the world". I promise you. And really, people who take themselves too seriously. Relax. It's just life, and it's short and unpredictable and sometimes fraught. Why waste it on scenes?
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