Meet Daniella: A former refugee who started a tech career later in life

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  • 2023
February 22, 2023

Daniela S., ServiceNow employee and a former refugee who started a tech career later in life

For some people, a tech career begins immediately after graduating college. For others, like Daniella S., it begins later in life. 

At the age of 54, Daniella found herself attracted to ServiceNow and the world of tech for a few reasons. When researching the best places to work in Dublin, ServiceNow kept appearing on website lists. 

With no idea what ServiceNow does, Daniella yearned to find out. In her search, she came across the ServiceNow origin story and video, which features founder Fred Luddy and other early employees. 

After watching it, she knew she wanted to be a part of ServiceNow. “They were emotional and honest about why they started this,” Daniella explains. “It took me literally 2 minutes to decide that I wanted to work here.” Today, she’s a project coordinator in the president’s office at ServiceNow EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa), based in Dublin. 

I want to stay here, and I want to leave a mark, and to make an impact. I'm going to do that. - Daniella S., President's Office Project Coordinator, EMEA, Sales Geo HQ

Leaving home

Daniella’s journey to ServiceNow is more than just a career switch at 54 years old. It’s the story of a refugee who experienced myriad hardships throughout her life. Each of those hardships helped create a foundation of resilience and courage.

Born in Yugoslavia, Daniella and her family relocated to the United States when she was a baby. After spending her formative years in Chicago, she returned to Yugoslavia, where she attended high school, got married, and had children. While residing there, the Homeland War broke out—an event that changed Daniella’s life forever.

“The war was very painful for many, many people,” she recalls. “So many people were homeless and had to leave their homes. I was one of those people.”

Having experienced firsthand the cruelties and horrors of war, Daniella fled to Germany as a refugee before eventually moving to Sweden for university and then to Croatia. “Being a refugee is very, very emotional,” she says. “I needed to start from the ground up. It’s a difficult thing to lose your home.”

The pandemic prevented Daniella from seeing her daughter, who had moved to Ireland. Her daughter suggested Daniella relocate to Ireland so they could reunite. After two decades of living in Croatia, “it took me two days to pack,” Daniella says. “I was there.”

A fresh start

While adjusting to a new area, Daniella had to find a job. Her life experiences and foundation of courage helped her stay afloat.

Daniella says nothing can surprise her, that she’s seen, lived, or heard it all. In light of that, she’s made a habit of choosing joy, knowing that pain can create power that flows into purpose and becomes enlightenment.

That power led Daniella to take a bold step and apply to a ServiceNow role, despite having no tech experience. In her cover letter, she openly and honestly explained her lack of tech skills but stated what she could offer from her life experiences. She also shared her eagerness to learn new things.

Two days later, Daniella got a call for an interview. That led to a second interview, followed by a job offer. She shares her story in hopes of inspiring others who may be going through tough times or considering a career switch.


Making an impact

After joining the company, Daniella partnered with the ServiceNow NextGen Professionals Program as a mentor. The program, part of our RiseUp with ServiceNow program, empowers people from all backgrounds to learn digital skills to land a job in tech.

As fate would have it, Daniella’s two mentees are refugees. “As a person who experienced war in the cruelest way, I believe that when someone is a refugee, you need to show up and to support them in the ways that are needed,” she explains. “When I talk to all these people, they see it in my eyes. They know I know. And if someone knows how it is, it’s so valuable.”

Although Daniella has worked at ServiceNow for less than a year, she’s already made an enormous impact on those around her. That impact will undoubtedly continue to grow. “I'm not leaving,” she affirms. “I want to stay here, and I want to leave a mark, and to make an impact. I'm going to do that.”

Join a company where you can make an impact, at any age, regardless of your background. Explore ServiceNow careers.

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