Grazia Oriunto – A Project Manager of a life changing 📱application #S07￼
This story unravelled when we luckily met Grazia Oriunto through a friend in Naples who was kind enough to give us a ride back to our rented apartment in Naples. While discussing she told us that she is the Project Manager (PM) of an application called TruSteppy which helps blind and visually impaired people anywhere to walk freely by recognizing obstacles and avoiding them.
Grazia Oriunto received both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Language and Literature at the University of Naples “L’Orientale”. She is 26 years old, and her background is purely linguistic, in fact she speaks 5 languages: Italian, Spanish, English, French and German. Although she has never studied code or design, her story proves that she is always ready to learn new things. In fact, at the Apple Developer Academy her interest in the world of developers was piqued, speciﬁcally in project management which ultimately led to her working with Vanitas Team at the Apple Developer Academy, creating TruSteppy; an IOS application (app) that overcomes social barriers by helping those with a visual impairment.
So Grazia, what sparked your interest in project management in application technology?
My interest in the Project Management sector arose after having tasted the branch of code and design, as I felt more comfortable with assignments such as organizing tasks, scheduling interviews or problem solving. Obviously being highly empathic is also one of the tasks of the PM and being able to instill conﬁdence and comfort has pushed me more and more to love being a PM.
Can you tell our readers what the application TruSteppy is for?
The app is a sort of detector of obstacles and can be used by anyone. We worked with the association of blind and visually impaired people of Naples and for them the app is very useful. TruSteppy is available in AppStore. The app works facing the phone to the street and thanks to a vibration people can understand by the intensity of the vibration that at a certain point there is an obstacle to avoid.
You mentioned that the application is very useful for blind and visually impaired people. Can you elaborate on that?
Working closely with the association we realized that even though the application has only one function that may seem trivial for us, it is not for the people who live in a society that is not yet fully accessible. In addition, the application can also be used for people who have had eye operations and who are temporarily disabled in the use of sight.
Can you tell us more about the decision to group with Vanitas Team and build the application TruSteppy ?
The Vanitas group composed by Antonio Braccolino, Alba Capasso, Gianluca Grosso, Francesco Maria Di Donna, Dario Vigilante, Marco Cucci and I was created thanks to the strong friendship that was developed during our year at the Apple Developer Academy in Naples. Being close friends, we tried this collaboration with an initial fear of ruining our relationship, but as we gradually realized that the climate we had created was like a real family and a healthy environment to work at, it was possible to be ourselves and give our best as we have done.
What inspired you to take a course at the Apple Developer Academy?
A maxim of my life is ‘always challenge yourself’ and I have challenged myself on a totally new field like computer science, that’s why I decided to attend the apple developer academy course. In fact, I studied hard to pass the written test, from code to design. And even though it was tough, it was worth it because I learned so much and will continue to learn because it’s a fascinating world full of surprises.
Can you share with us what was the driving force behind creating an application for blind and visually impaired people?
Me, Antonio Braccolino, Alba Capasso, Gianluca Grosso, Francesco Maria Di Donna, Dario Vigilante and Marco Cucci, we all shared the same vision; To create an application that will help people. That’s why we worked very close to Aici association; the association of blind and visually impaired people. We live in a world that is not accessible, but at the same time we have the technologies that can be used in everyday situations to be more inclusive and accessible at the same time… so we have done a lot of research, interviews and we noticed that the most important problem is that blind and visually impaired people don’t feel comfortable when they walk even in safe and known environments to them.
What was your role in the process of creating TruSteppy?
I shared the role of PM with my friend Alba Capasso, together we have scheduled the interview, the work of the coders, designers and allocated the time to spend in all situations. It was our ﬁrst experience as a PM and being backed up by each other helped us deal with all the problems encountered during the development process.
Can blind people and visually impaired people run/exercise with this application?
TruSteppy certainly helps to be aware of the surrounding environment, exercise is possible, but it was not created to replace medical devices or companions. However, we are working to make the complex movements of a simple walk even more accessible with new features and accessories.
From your experience do you ﬁnd the project management and application technology industry to be male dominated?
From my experience it is relatively balanced between men and women, while in general in the application technology industry the presence of men is more dominant, in fact ﬁnding women who deal with code is really diﬃcult even far away from the legacy of our society which is still patriarchal
How easy/diﬃcult is it for young people particularly women to pursue a career within the technology application industry as project managers in Naples?
The world of technology is very open to young people, but at the same time it is diﬃcult to enter such a proliﬁc ﬁeld like this since there is so much demand there is also a lot of competition for both sexes.
Do you think that school and/or government initiatives are important for a child and or/ young person to aspire to get involved in the application development world?
We live in a technologically advanced society but not all people are technologically advanced. This is why I am convinced that if there were many more initiatives involving people in the development of applications, it would be the start of a new common consciousness, a new world accessible to all. The problem is that these types of courses are not free and have a cost that not everyone can face, so many people are inevitably left out.
What advice do you have for women who are considering pursuing a career in project management?
My advice is to face with conscience and awareness the fact that the project management environment is full of stress and competition. You need to have patience, know how to work in a team and therefore be able to collaborate by empathizing but also by encouraging others to always give their best. Like any job you need to have passion in doing it, and if you are able to build a real family in the team it will be really satisfying to get results together.
Lastly, we could not but ask you (as we think our readers might wonder too) do you and your team plan to make TruSteppy available for Android users?