EPeeps Vivian Breda | Associate Software Engineer

Olá! I’m Vivian and I’m an Associate Software Engineer at EP. I’m originally from Vila Velha (ES – Brazil), moved to San Diego (CA – United States) in 2010 and then finally made my way down to Ōtepoti Dunedin in 2017, where I completed my Bachelor of Science majoring in Computer Science at the University of Otago. 

Tell us a bit about yourself!

I first joined EP in November 2018 as a Software Engineer intern, and my main project was to help implement EP’s end-to-end automated tests suite. I left at the end of my internship programme but came back in July 2019 as a QA Engineer. Even though I really enjoyed being a QA, I’ve always missed being able to fix issues or develop new features. As an inquisitive person, I loved being a QA and finding bugs, but as a problem solver, I didn’t really like the part where I had to let the problem go and give it to someone else. So in April this year, I moved into a Software Engineering role. It’s been very challenging (in a good way) so far, but I have a supportive team of engineers around me, who are teaching me a lot and helping me grow in my new role.

Outside of work, you can usually find me listening to music, playing board or video games (very likely something Nintendo), cooking/baking, looking for good food to eat, or just chilling at home waiting for a nice day to go enjoy some amazing New Zealand walk (my favourite day hike is Gertrude Saddle, in Milford Sound).

Why do you love working at EP?

The main thing that I like about working at EP is seeing how the people around me genuinely care about making our work environment safe for all EPeeps. I’ve seen us grow so much in the past 4 years and a lot of that is because people’s suggestions and concerns are taken seriously here. We’re always open to learning from each other and doing whatever we can to make everyone feel welcome. 

Besides being an engineer at EP, I’m also part of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee and also one of the very vocal advocates for accessibility, and I’m glad to be working at a place that gives us the platform to discuss these important topics and the support that we need to work towards removing barriers from our workplace and our product.

What is your secret talent?

I’m usually ready to say that I have no talents at all, but as I was thinking about an answer to this question, I realised that’s not true. I think that my secret talent is being able to quickly adapt to whatever situation I’m in and make the most of it.

Back in Brazil, I graduated in Chemistry and worked as a Science/Chemistry teacher for about a year. I’ve always wanted to leave the country though, so I decided to move to the U.S. and go learn English, even though I had pretty much never travelled by plane before (the only time was when I was about 7 or 8 and went to a rhythmic gymnastics competition in the south of Brazil) and the only English I knew was the very basic that I’d learned in school. I probably looked like a lost puppy around the airports, pointing to the useful “At the Airport” phrases that were written in the back of my Portuguese-English dictionary to communicate with the flight attendants. 

Once there, I noticed that I was not learning English quickly enough, and decided to enrol in a Community College course, where speaking, listening and writing in English were my only options for communication. It was really hard and intense at the beginning, but my English skills developed rapidly after that!

I discovered my passion for Computer Science thanks to my cousin, Gabriel, who recommended me a book called “Learn Python the Hard Way” and told me to see how I liked it (long story short: I loved it!). Since then and where I am today, I’ve found myself having to move countries more than I had anticipated and with short notice to do so, working many different jobs in order to pay my bills (e.g. waitress, babysitter/nanny, barista, Santa’s photographer, IT specialist, etc.), dealing with unexpected family losses… and with each curve-ball thrown at me, after a couple of days of full-on freaking out and telling myself that I couldn’t do it, the problem-solver in me kicked in, and I’ve been able to focus on the available options, adapt and move on.

What advice would you pass on to a younger version of yourself?

To stop seeking everyone’s approval all the time. It is nice to be empathetic and do things to help others, but not when you have to invalidate your own opinions and values in the process. It is important to voice your concerns and have open communication with the people in your life. When you respectfully disagree with others and explain your thoughts, it is very likely that you’ll still have their respect in the end (if not, then was it even worth it, to begin with?).

What book/movie/music/podcast etc has been a big influence on you?

Every person that knows me, even if just a little bit, knows how much I love Gilmore Girls. I started watching it when I was 12 or 13 and have lost count of how many more times I have done so since then. And every time I watch it, I reflect on something different. Back then, I saw so much of myself in Rory: a good student, nice to everyone around and pushing herself to excel in everything she wanted to do. As I became an older teenager, I started noticing that some of the behaviours that I shared with her were actually not healthy at all, and I did my best to not go through that same path. Now as an adult, I see myself identifying a bit more with Lorelai instead. Anyway, my point is: every time I watch Gilmore Girls, I find something that relates to my current stage in life that I hadn’t really paid attention to in the previous X times that I watched it, and I have new things to look forward to. I just love that show too much.

Any last words you would like to share?

I learned from my fellow EPeep Phil Jury that I should always leave the audience with a quote, so here it is:

“If eating cake is wrong, I don’t want to be right” – Lorelai Gilmore, Gilmore Girls