Leslie Real

Leslie Real – Co-founder and COO of Awalabs

By on , in Interviews, South America

There are a variety of women with totally different stories that can be seen as examples worldwide. I think a large part of it has to do with changing the way we think about technology as it is something that only those with special abilities can study, that’s not true!

Leslie Real is an American-Uruguayan entrepreneur with a degree in software engineering who is a co-founder, COO and head of sales of Awalabs, a successful e-commerce agency providing worldwide services. She is constantly searching for a balance between professional and personal growth. Currently, she’s enjoying traveling thoughout Europe in a motorhome while wearing all of those professional hats.

In a nutshell, tell us a bit about your job, and what role technology plays in it?

I am co-founder, chief operating officer and head of sales of Awalabs, a United States technology company with offices in Uruguay, composed of friends who share common knowledge and vision. We implement, customize and extend e-commerce web stores for customers around the world within an existing omni-channel platform based on Oracle NetSuite solutions.

My day to day is packed with several types of challenging activities as my end goal is that the company continues its path to success focusing in our values of integrity. Technology plays a key role since we work in different parts of the world with our clients, and I even chose to explore Europe for the last year in a motorhome, connected full time with the team in Uruguay, and all of this wouldn’t be possible without all of the online tools currently available. 

E-commerce is the future of commerce, as companies are becoming more digitalized every day.

As a technology company focused on e-commerce, it is key to be at the forefront of webstore functional and design innovation. We require to follow the almost daily advances in digital marketing, changing algorithms of search engines and the growing amount of 3rd party tools available to offer a continuous improvement in the digital shopping experience.

Where did your professional journey start and how did you get to where you are now?

I started studying a degree in mathematics, but after a few years, I realized that it was simply not me, I wanted to be able to apply my knowledge in a more practical and tangible way where I could contribute to people in real world scenarios, solving problems of everyday life.

From my point of view, that could be accomplished by becoming a software engineer, since it would allow me to interact with any number of existing fields that could hugely benefit from the digitalization era and the most interesting part, the job could be done from anywhere in the world thanks to globalization. This idea sounded so liberating and fulfilling to me! 

After some time working in my former company, I found that I really enjoyed the work that I was doing. I realized however, that I wasn’t happy with the company’s policies and direction, and that I could contribute more to the ecosystem by partnering with other similar-minded friends, and creating a company with a very high quality-oriented focus, where we could genuinely provide a personalized customer service and great environment to work in. If there is something that life taught me, it is to let myself be carried away by my beliefs, and that who does not risk does not win. Those two convictions, together with my partner’s motivation, inspired me to leave my current job and start a different path with lots of growth and challenges but at the same time very comforting. 

I wanted to be able to apply my knowledge in a more practical and tangible way where I could contribute to people in real world scenarios, solving problems of everyday life. From my point of view, that could be accomplished by becoming a software engineer.

After 2 years of hard work, following my dreams and my inner voice, Awalabs is now a very successful company formed by a team of 12 highly talented professionals which really enjoy working together, and the most encouraging part is that 100% of our customers have expressed that they enjoy working with us and that we are able to meet or even exceed their expectations.

What is the greatest transformation in technology you’ve witnessed in your career?

Undoubtedly for me, it was cloud services! The fact of being able to have all the information in the cloud was a major change that gave you more freedom by allowing you to accomplish the same things you did before, but now from any place in the world and from any device. From online storage, cloud project management tools, reliable online conference apps and even cloud omni-channel systems where you can take full control of your company, like Oracle-NetSuite.

When you think about ‘women’ and ‘technology’ what comes to your mind first?

We need more women in technology! Women have a lot to contribute to the area since we still represent a small percentage of our field and the more diversity the richer the ecosystem becomes allowing it to continue to grow and evolve. 

We always hear there are not enough women working in tech. What needs to happen to change that? Why do we need women-focused groups in the tech community?

Communities of women in technology like GalTalksTech are doing a great job to help dissolve the myths that technology is only for men, we should spread this to the world. There are a variety of women with totally different stories that can be seen as examples worldwide. I think a large part of it has to do with changing the way we think about technology as it is something that only those with special abilities can study, that’s not true! There are lots of options nowadays and Software engineering is a career that if it really appeals to you, it is very achievable. 

What skills do you need for a career in tech (aside from the actual tech skills)?

The biggest lesson I learned is that the most important skills to accomplish anything in life are perseverance, courage and audacity. You should always keep the ultimate goal present and stay motivated, even when everything goes wrong or fear and insecurity invade you.

What has been the greatest piece of advice you have received in your career so far?

There were two important pieces of advice I carried over during my career: 

“When you fall, just standup and keep walking.”
I had to apply this so many times in my life, as I fell multiple times even in the same step, but it never stopped me. 

“When you think you don’t have enough time or energy to accomplish a milestone, push a little harder.”
This was hard and very frustrating sometimes, but I will never regret it.

There are a variety of women with totally different stories that can be seen as examples worldwide. I think a large part of it has to do with changing the way we think about technology as it is something that only those with special abilities can study, that’s not true!

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your 14-year-old self?

I would tell my 14-year-old self to dream big and use visualization to accomplish every dream. The world is beautiful and vast, you just have to trust in yourself, your intuition and work hard. There will be difficult times, but family and friends will help you overcome them, and in the end these will make you stronger. Relationships are very important, they will keep you strong and allow you to grow emotionally even if you decide to go to a more scientific route in your professional career. Don’t be afraid to be different from what you think people expect, and you don’t have to be always right or do the right things, it’s OK to just be yourself. And never, ever listen to someone saying that you won’t be able to do something, just take it as a challenge.

Leslie Real is an American-Uruguayan entrepreneur with a degree in software engineering who currently is co-founder, COO and head of sales of Awalabs, a successful e-commerce agency providing worldwide services. She is constantly searching for a balance between professional and personal growth. Currently, she’s enjoying traveling thought Europe in a motorhome while wearing all of those professional hats. 

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