Nexcess’ Product Manager for Managed WooCommerce on maintaining hope, diversifying tech, and owning what you bring to the table.
Christie Chirinos spent the early 2000s as a teenage girl obsessed with rock music and the Internet. From The Beatles and Led Zeppelin, to 90s grunge bands like Soundgarden and Britpop revival bands like Oasis, Chirinos loved it all. “I loved electronic music too,” she says, “and had access to everything I could possibly want to know about it, thanks to the Internet. I recorded a three-song demo of my original work and built a website for it. I was intrigued by creating things, then putting them online. I guess you could say I’ve been consistent in my interests since early on.”
She began making websites for fun at 14. “The first full-on website I ever made was a simple page advertising piano lessons, which I offered to kids to make extra spending money. I later had a blog where I reviewed pop music and an online store where I sold Peruvian jewelry.” And so began an intersection of art and technology in Christie Chirinos, interests that would carry her into adulthood.
Born in Lima, Peru, Chirinos’ family immigrated to the United States when she was 9 years old. They lived in the Miami metro area until she was 18. Hers was not an upbringing she would describe as easy, but it taught her a great deal about resilience and resourcefulness, and for that she is grateful.
“I wake up every morning astounded at how radically different my life is today from my parents’ lives at my age, or even my grandparents,” she says. “Being a Latin American immigrant informs so much of my gratitude and wonder. The difference is so astounding. One of my grandmothers didn’t even finish middle school. I get to exist every day at the forefront of technological innovation that’s revolutionizing everything we know about the world, and still have fun, surround myself with people I love, and make music every day.”
Today, Chirinos lives in Austin, Texas, where she enjoys drinking copious amounts of coffee, swimming at the pool or in a spring, spending time with friends, and playing the piano.
After completing college as an economics major, working for a few years, and getting an MBA, she moved to New York City knowing she wanted to work at the intersection of art, technology, and activism. It was in New York that she landed her first full-time, salaried tech job. “I remember that during my interview, they asked me to fix a post-migration website bug, and I flushed the permalinks on the WordPress website. Anyone who makes WordPress websites today would probably find that anecdote funny, but that goes to show how much what you know can be exactly what someone else needs!” That moment got her the job. She spent time working for a nonprofit incubator, an organization that trained women to run for office, and a WordPress product company before joining Nexcess, a Liquid Web brand, last year.
Now, Chirinos works as the Product Manager for WooCommerce for Nexcess, a role in which she can happily exercise her creativity and entrepreneurial spirit. “Essentially, my job is to be the voice of the customer,” she says. “So, it’s a combination of sales, marketing, development, support, and other roles, all from the lens of what the customer might want. I’m the glue between different departments, making sure that we’re all working in the same direction to make an amazing product that helps our customers.”
In her work at Nexcess, Chirinos is motivated to leave things better than she found them. “Something that drives me is that we’re truly leveling the barriers to getting started with business ownership, and that can change lives.”
This is just the beginning for Chirinos. It takes fortitude to grow and sell a software company before the age of 30, a feat she can claim. Chirinos attributes much of her success to her mother. “My mom was and continues to be a woman who was independent and made it as a single mom and an immigrant in America. Watching her taught me that if I roll up my sleeves and get to work, I can do anything.”
Chirinos is excited about the possibilities in tech for herself and for other women. She hopes that seeing women better represented in leadership roles will help to combat unconscious bias against women in STEM fields. “I hope more women join us here,” she says. “I would tell women starting out to be unafraid to take up space. It can be uncomfortable to be the only one in the room who is saying what you might be saying. Still, it’s important to remember that the facts are in your favor: companies that have greater diversity are more profitable and have higher degrees of employee satisfaction.”
In her creative life and her work, Chirinos is focused on depth and care. Guided by the words of Margaret Mead (“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have”) Chirinos lives a life filled with determination and hope. She has always seen the world with an idealistic lens, and that’s something she strives to maintain. “I think that if there is a childlike wonder within that is easy to access, finding motivation in hope can be very powerful and long-lasting.”