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A Girl and Her Commodore 64: A Q&A with Su Yuen Chin

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Su Yuen Chin was transfixed by the first computer she ever worked on – a Commodore 64. Her father brought the early 1980s 8-bit computer into the home when she was a child, facilitating an interest in technology and spurring her first foray into software development. For Su, this machine seemed almost magical, as she inputted commands and witnessed an immediate outcome.

That passion turned into a business for Su as the founder of MomoCentral, a real-time freelancing company that aims to help companies when some extra talent is needed for a project or to help get a new business up and running. We spoke to Su about her company and how she feels about being a woman in a field that is still dominated by men.  

DreamHost: Many developers I have spoken with seem to have gained an interest in computers from a young age. Would you say this is the case with you? What drew you to this field?

Su Yuen Chin: I’d say this was the case with me. My geeky dad bought a Commodore and I was allowed to fiddle with it. That was my very first interaction with computers. I always found it amazing you could type in commands and have things happen on screen —even if it was a wall of black and green text.

DH: You come from a graphic design and animation background — How much of a role does creativity play in your programming work?

SC: I’d say being creative allowed me to program projects (websites, mobile apps, games) that not only looked good but was very useable. In college, I studied Human-Computer Interaction, and this made me think a lot from a user point of view for everything I was doing. It made me question my projects a lot. For example, “Am I building something that will be useful to a user? Is this something the user needs? Is this something the user will use? Is this something the user will use frequently? How does it impact the user’s life?”

DH: You are the founder of MomoCentral, a company that is focused on an immediate relationship with clients. Can you talk about MomoCentral — how you started it and your goals for the company?

SC: MomoCentral is a real-time freelancing company of human-verified, interviewed and tested designers and developers. By real-time, let’s say you book a developer from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. At 9 a.m., a developer comes online and works on anything you want including conference calls, discussions, iterations, screenshares, etcetera. It is just like having your own in-house employee.

The goal of MomoCentral is to provide clients with a very reliable and transparent platform for hiring and working with developers and designers. This is also the reason why we came up with the real-time model to reduce communication problems in working with remote teams. It is also to help startups and companies cope with their talent shortage problems as they can hire freelancers for just a few hours in a day, or even full time for a week, a month or a few months.

DH: It is often thought that the programming (or the tech field in general) is a male-dominated one, but I am hopeful that is changing and more women are entering colleges and universities for computer science. Do you think it is indeed changing? What challenges have you faced, if any, as a woman in this field?

SC: Well, I think it boils down to personal interest. It is like how there are more girls who are more interested in fashion than guys. I do see more females learning programming because of what programming can do — bring their ideas to life on the Internet (for example, e-commerce websites and mobile apps) — making it a very low-cost way to start a business as opposed to the old and traditional brick-and-mortar businesses.

I have not faced any challenges as a woman in this field. Everyone I worked with (including both colleagues and clients) did not seem to care about my gender and judged me based on the quality of the work produced. It was a very objective evaluation. In fact, it was easy for me to earn respect because of my gender. When they realize a female can code as well as a guy in this male-dominated industry, they have a profound respect for you and word gets around about you a lot faster.

Feature image source: linkedin.com

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