Boosting your Career: CFG Ambassador Soraya's Journey

How Code First Girls courses allowed CFG Ambassador Soraya Tavakol to upskill & thrive as a Go-To-Market Program Manager at Amazon Web Services.

☁️ Code First Girls courses are not just for those who want to pursue tech careers! CFG Ambassador Soraya shares how her leadership trajectory as Go-To-Market Program Manager at Amazon Web Services (AWS) was elevated through upskilling in tech by signing up for CFG MOOCs and Kickstarter courses. 

Despite working in a non-technical, program management role, Soraya works with developers who code in languages such as Python, daily.  In this blog, we learn about Soraya’s experiences with the MOOC and Kickstarter courses from the perspective of somebody with no prior coding experience, and how by learning these new skills, Soraya was able to produce more creative and innovative solutions to technical problems as part of her Program Manager role. Her new-found tech knowledge allowed Soraya to lead with confidence, better contribute to AWS projects, and boost her career in the process.


  • Favourite coding language? (if you have one!)
    • Python
  • What is your choice of beverage for coding? 
    • Tea Tea Tea – particularly Earl Grey with some milk or Peppermint
  • Desk set up – RGB, Minimal or my aesthetic
    • Minimal, I like to have an organised desk with few things (I hate clutter, really stresses me out)
  • If you had to only use one for life: Laptop or PC?
    • Laptop
  • Are you most productive in the morning or evening/night?
    • It varies actually, my prime time tends to be between 10-2
  • What do you listen to whilst you code and where? Spotify, radio, vinyl or fave CD? 
    • When doing admin work I love Upbeat/Pop playlists on Spotify, while when I really need to focus I like to find relaxing nature sounds on YouTube like birdsong or waves at the beach

👋 Hi Soraya! Please give a brief intro about who you are, your tech experience, what you do professionally, and why you want to become a CFG Ambassador.

I’m a Go-to-Market Program Manager at Amazon Web Services in the UK, focusing on strategic initiatives for the EMEA market. Previous to this, I have five years’ experience in Tech Sales at Amazon and LinkedIn. Growing up with a Swedish-Iranian heritage and having lived in ten countries, I am deeply passionate about fostering inclusivity and diversity in both professional and community settings. This drive means I participate in initiatives such as being an #IAmRemarkable facilitator, serving on the AWS EMEA IDE Steering Committee, and becoming a Code First Girls Ambassador.

My decision to join CFG as an Ambassador was influenced by my transformative experience with their Kickstarter courses, which significantly shaped my career trajectory. I am committed to championing diversity and inclusion in the tech industry, and CFG provides an ideal platform to further this mission.

🤔 What drew you to apply to the Intro to Web Development and Intro to Python & Apps Kickstarter courses?

In applying for the Intro to Web Development and Intro to Python & Apps Kickstarter courses, my primary motivation was twofold: to deepen my understanding of Python’s applications in development and to explore the creative aspects of web development. Working closely with Solution Architects, Developers, and Business Insight Analysts who frequently utilize Python, I saw an opportunity to upskill myself and foster stronger trust with my stakeholders by gaining proficiency in this versatile language. Additionally, the recommendation from my peers at Code First Girls encouraged me to delve into web development, where I discovered an unexpected familiarity with HTML that had been integral to my role in designing internal web pages.

Despite ultimately deciding to remain in my Program Manager role, these courses have been instrumental in my professional growth. They’ve not only provided me with valuable technical knowledge but have also enhanced my leadership skills and empowered me to play a more active role in project decision-making. By gaining a deeper understanding of the projects I work on, I’ve been able to earn the trust of stakeholders and contribute more effectively to our collective success. Overall, these courses have not only allowed me to learn something new but have also significantly enriched my professional journey.

“By gaining a deeper understanding of the projects I work on, I’ve been able to earn the trust of stakeholders and contribute more effectively to our collective success. Overall, these courses have not only allowed me to learn something new but have also significantly enriched my professional journey.”

⭐ What surprised you about doing A CODE FIRST GIRL course?

Participating in the CFG Kickstarter courses was a transformative experience for me, challenging my preconceived notions about coding and opening my eyes to the accessibility of this skill set. Coming from a background more inclined towards subjects like History, Languages, and Literature, I had always believed that becoming an engineer or developer required an innate aptitude for math and science—a notion that seemed daunting to someone like me. However, the CFG courses shattered this misconception.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that coding is something anyone can learn, regardless of their background, as long as they approach it with the right attitude and determination. The structured nature of the courses played a pivotal role in my learning journey, providing clear guidance and support that enabled me to start coding my own applications and building websites within just a few weeks.

One of the most surprising things for me was realizing that being a proficient engineer or developer isn’t solely about technical prowess—it also requires a curious mind and the ability to identify and solve problems effectively. This insight was further reinforced by the diverse group of women in my courses, each bringing their unique backgrounds and experiences to the table.

I found that the more diverse the skill sets and experiences within the team, the better and more innovative our solutions became. Ultimately, my experience with the CFG courses highlighted the importance of diversity in driving creativity and innovation within teams. It showed me that successful engineering and development projects thrive on the collaboration and synergy of individuals with varied perspectives and skill sets.

🚀 How has taking the CFG courses impacted your role and boosted your career?

Participating in CFG courses has had a profound impact on both my role and career trajectory. The courses not only equipped me with valuable technical skills but also instilled in me a newfound confidence to explore and embrace new technologies and subjects.

This enhanced curiosity and adaptability have been instrumental in fostering stronger relationships with my teams and stakeholders at work, allowing me to demonstrate leadership by making informed decisions and actively contributing to discussions, particularly in the dynamic environment of a technology business like AWS.

Moreover, the skills and knowledge gained from the courses have opened doors to exciting opportunities for growth. One such opportunity is my involvement in the EMEA GenAI Go-to-Market Strategy team—a fantastic chance to further expand my expertise and bring my unique perspectives to the forefront in tackling one of the most significant topics in the industry today. Overall, my experience with CFG has been invaluable in shaping my role, enhancing my career trajectory, and positioning me as a proactive contributor to the advancements within my organization.

🖥️ What are some of the key skills you think women need to have in tech?

In my seven years in the tech industry, I’ve observed that certain skills are particularly essential for women to thrive in this fast-paced and ever-evolving field. Three skills stand out to me as particularly crucial:

1. Adaptability:

The tech industry is characterized by constant change, with new technologies, methodologies, and trends emerging at a rapid pace. To navigate this dynamic landscape effectively, women need to be adaptable.

This means being able to quickly adjust to shifting priorities, embrace new tools and methodologies, and lead confidently in the face of uncertainty.

2. A curious mindset and commitment to lifelong learning:

With technology evolving at breakneck speed, it’s essential for women in tech to cultivate a curious mindset and a commitment to lifelong learning.

This involves staying curious about emerging technologies, seeking out opportunities for skill development, and continuously expanding one’s knowledge base.

By embracing a mindset of curiosity and continuous learning, women can stay relevant in an ever-changing industry and position themselves for long-term success.

3. Grit:

The tech industry is not without its challenges, and women often face unique obstacles and barriers to advancement. In such a demanding and competitive environment, grit is essential. Grit entails having the courage, resilience, and determination to persevere in the face of adversity, overcome obstacles, and stay focused on long-term goals.

By cultivating grit, women can navigate challenges with resilience and tenacity, ultimately emerging stronger and more resilient in the pursuit of their aspirations.

These skills—adaptability, a curious mindset and commitment to lifelong learning, and grit—are not only essential for thriving in the tech industry but also for breaking barriers, shattering stereotypes, and paving the way for greater diversity and inclusion within the field.

💡 What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of applying for a MOOC / Kickstarter course?

If you’re considering applying for a MOOC or Kickstarter course, my advice is simple: don’t let fear hold you back! These courses are designed for everyone, regardless of their educational background or current career path. Whether you’ve struggled with maths, are a nurse in the NHS, or a Sales Development Representative in tech looking to broaden your skill set, these courses offer a welcoming and inclusive environment where anyone can thrive.

One of the most reassuring aspects of these courses is the level of support available. Instructors are always on hand to assist and guide you through the material, ensuring that you feel confident and capable every step of the way. But perhaps the most enriching aspect of participating in these courses is the opportunity to connect with a diverse community of women who share your passion for learning and growth.

Interacting with this community can be incredibly inspiring, motivating you to push beyond your comfort zone and reach new heights in your personal and professional development. So, if you’re on the fence about applying, my advice is to take the leap! Embrace the opportunity to expand your horizons, acquire new skills, and connect with like-minded individuals who will support and encourage you every step of the way. Your journey toward success starts with that first courageous step.

Thank you to Soraya for sharing how CFG helped facilitate her managerial role at AWS! Click here for more Code First Girls community stories and blogs! 🤩 

Code First Girls courses are for anyone interested in learning how to code, regardless of whether you work in tech or not. Interested in upskilling in tech & building up your coding knowledge? Check out CFG’s MOOCs and Coding Kickstarter courses!