6 minutes reading time (1287 words)

I've met a Joomler in... Stockholm!


Wherever you will travel for holidays, for business, or for any other reason, there's probably a Joomla volunteer around.
Recently, I've been in Sweden and I've took this opportunity to meet Sarah Watz, a famous Joomla volunteer but also a well-known former OSM President.

For almost 2 hours, we had a delicious meeting in a lovely Swedish "bageri" in the center of the lovely Stockholm. We've talk about Joomla (of course), but also business, NGO projects, etc. Sarah kindly accepted to answer a few questions for the Joomla Community Magazine.

Sarah Watz and Daniel Dubois in Stockholm

What’s your name and your role at Joomla?

I’m Sarah Watz. I've been involved with Joomla! since 2005. I have been contributing in various roles, including volunteering within the Swedish and global Joomla! communities.

I have initiated and led projects like the Joomla! Certification Program that was launched in 2016.

One of my key roles was serving as President of Open Source Matters during 2014–2017. I was part of celebrating Joomla! 10 years and focused most of my time on restructuring the organization to enhance community engagement, governance, and transparency.

Today I’m not in an official position; I continue to support Joomla! as an advocate and user.

What excites you about your daily work?

We at Pixpro are getting ready for the launch of our business education and mentorship platform, Business Heroes®, to the global market in English during 2024.

At Business Heroes®, we deliver resources to service-oriented business owners who're committed to personal and professional growth, aiming to level up their entrepreneurship and grow their businesses.

In March, we will begin offering our first English-language online course, "The Entrepreneur's Guide to AI”.

In April, Business Heroes® Academy will be available in English. This is a huge milestone in our mission to guide entrepreneurs to make an impact locally and/or globally.

Something I've been working on for a while that excites me is the scholarship. It will be made available to a select number of business owners that might not otherwise get access to our programs.

What did you study?

I've been interested in technology since I was ten years old, when I attended my first computer class. That was more than forty years ago! Since then, I have studied in areas like marketing, strategy, project management, entrepreneurship, and business development.

Mentors and a large network have been very valuable for my career, providing advice and insights.

I make it a point to learn something new every day, whether it's through online classes, conferences, or certifications. Right now, I'm into learning even more about business automation and artificial intelligence (AI) and how they can benefit entrepreneurs and businesses.

When did you start to think about pursuing a career in tech?

I've always been fascinated by technology and how it impacts people's lives. My deep passion for technology, combined with my interest in marketing, led me to start Pixpro, our digital agency, in 1996. It was the perfect opportunity to combine my passions for these two areas, letting me innovate and create meaningful digital experiences with our amazing team. Seeing how technology could bring people and ideas together motivated Pixpro to choose Joomla! as our primary development platform.

What challenges are you facing as a woman working in tech?

The tech industry is still facing significant challenges, such as gender bias and underrepresentation. However, I've built resilience, actively sought mentorship, and advocated for diversity and inclusion.

I've also turned these industry challenges into opportunities by leveraging my position to speak at conferences and meet-ups. This gives women in the audience real-world evidence that overcoming these obstacles is possible, even when they face additional challenges like language proficiency (because my first language is Swedish, not English, and English is what I mostly use when I present).

What would your advice to women considering pursuing a career in tech be?

Be curious, and never stop learning. Try to broaden your network; these connections can lead to opportunities, offer advice, and serve as a safety net. Recognize and utilize your unique perspective, as it may be not only valuable but also necessary in collaboration with others.

Never forget that every challenge represents an opportunity for growth and to make a difference in the world. Be an advocate for yourself and others, and do not be afraid to seek out mentors in your field.

Are there any specific books, blogs, or apps you enjoy or recommend?

I tend to recommend resources that encourage growth and spark creativity, such as "Atomic Habits" by James Clear, "Blue Ocean Shift" by W. Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne, and "Building a StoryBrand” by Donald Miller. These books offer actionable insights into the development of habits, strategic innovation, and how to create clear messages that make people want to listen.

I also frequently use TechCrunch and Superhuman.ai blogs to stay up-to-date on tech and productivity trends.

Finally, tools like ChatGPT and Keap have become indispensable in my toolkit for organization and communication, highlighting the crucial role that digital tools play in improving efficiency.

Who or what inspires you?

I am motivated by and believe in the possibility of collective progress by people who understand the importance of both large-scale initiatives and the power of small-scale changes.

A few examples of these people are leaders, business owners, educators, and communities like Joomla. Open Source Projects, in particular, demonstrate how the cumulative effect of many individuals' contributions can create a transformative impact.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

I enjoy spending time with my family, going for walks with our dogs, Happy & Teddy, experiencing nature's peace and quiet, and working on creative projects that fuel my desire to learn and grow personally.

Gardening provides me with both calm and creativity, and visiting new places while traveling broadens my perspective. Spending time with my loved ones grounds me and provides a sense of balance as I work on my business mission.

3 tips you would give your younger self?

  • Trust your instincts.
  • Embrace every opportunity to learn.
  • Networking is invaluable; build and maintain meaningful connections.

How do you think Joomla is doing nowadays?

I believe that Joomla is doing well. Keeping up with the latest technological developments makes Joomla a secure and current option for website creation, not just for its loyal users. Many developers consider Joomla to be a hidden gem because it offers excellent solutions, a wide range of add-ons and designs, and community support.

The Joomla! leadership continues to make efforts to engage and nurture both the local and global communities, as well as to welcome new members on a regular basis. This ensures that Joomla! is ready for any future changes in the web world.

What would you like to see happen for Joomla in the (near) future?

To further empower individuals and businesses to use Joomla to its full potential, I believe Joomla will continue to push the boundaries of usability and accessibility. I'm interested in seeing how artificial intelligence can help Joomla! remain the preferred platform and benefit developers and users.

I hope Joomla will continue to form and build deeper strategic alliances, such as its participation in the Open Website Alliance. These collaborations with other open-source CMS providers demonstrate a shared commitment to promoting accessible and open web technologies, reflecting Joomla's proactive role in building a more inclusive digital ecosystem.

Joomla's commitment to innovation, combined with its active community involvement and strategic partnerships, will be critical components of its long term sustainability going forward.

Tack Sarah for your time, your kindness, and your inspiring answers.
Until the next global Joomla event, don't hesitate to knock on a Joomla volunteer's door to enjoy a coffee, tea, or whatever you want, when you travel somewhere. And we'd love to read your interviews.

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