Changemakers: Women in tech

Women in Tech text graphic with a photo of Natalia, Senior Software Engineer at Emergn

Meet Mariya, Senior Software Engineer, who is learning Korean, loves art, and challenges herself to try different roles at Emergn.

What is your role at Emergn, and how long have you been with the company?

It’s been already six years since I joined Emergn. My current role is a Senior Software Engineer in the JavaScript practice. Throughout my time at Emergn I’ve also had opportunities to switch roles and learn something new, for example, I was challenging myself as a Scrum Master, which was a very interesting and valuable experience to manage not only my own but also my team’s time.

Apart from my daily tasks, I’m also contributing to helping Emergn’s JavaScript practice to improve our ways of working, holding Enabling Performance Reviews. Lately, I’m also working with the team to improve the interview process.

Can you tell me a bit about your backstory?

I took a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Business Informatics so it was partly connected with software engineering. I also learned about business processes and optimization, which I believe helped me to broaden my point of view and to understand clients’ problems more clearly. I joined Emergn as an intern and after graduating from University I got a full-time job offer. So, to tell you the truth, Emergn is my first employer, and I’ve never regretted the decision to take the internship here.

Did you always know you wanted to work in IT?

No, not exactly. Since childhood, I wanted to work in the creative field, particularly design (graphic design, product design, or similar), as I was always into drawing and painting. I started to think about the IT field shortly before graduating high school, as I needed to choose what to study next.

However, I do believe that eventually, I ended up in a truly creative field. I’m quite sure any developer will agree – from finding the right solution to deliver value for our clients, to bug-fixing – you need to be creative to do your work well. Also, when you create a solution, which seemed to be impossible at the beginning, it’s truly the art to think outside of the box.

What do you love about your current position?

I particularly enjoy the variety of the different types of roles I have been able to try. So far it has been software engineer, scrum master, and manual tester. Each of those experiences has broadened my horizon, and I believe it helps me do my current job even better.

What essential skills did you develop, and how did you figure out which were the most effective?

I think the most important skill every developer needs to develop is being a good team player. To take the responsibility for the whole project, not only about your own stake. It’s not about individual accomplishments or specific codes or parts of the product. It’s about delivering value to our client and to accomplish that well – it’s a team sport. It also sometimes requires being a mentor to your teammates. For me the mentorship skill wasn’t a talent given by nature, I deliberately learned and eventually gained those skills. As with any other new thing – the more you practice, the better you become.

Communication plays a very important role here as well, especially while working in a team with professionals all over the world – it’s important to be very open, honest, and actually listen to what your teammates are saying. Sometimes it’s also worth doing the homework and learning a bit about the culture your teammates come from – it might provide more understanding on different perspectives.

Which are the projects you’ve worked on throughout your career that you’re the proudest of?

There is one client engagement, which I have a long history with – I have worked for other products as well from time to time, but my path somehow has crossed this engagement again and again (five times exactly). It’s an insurance platform that allows our client’s employees to manage their plans for benefits, compare eligible plans, and choose the most suitable for them. It has been really complicated and extensive work, and we have accomplished great success during the last couple of years. The work is not finished yet, however, what is completely clear is that the most challenging client engagements are also the most rewarding ones.

What’s the one thing we should know about you? Any interesting passion, or hobby?

I’ve always been passionate about learning languages and also traveling. So, at the beginning of the year, I moved to South Korea to learn the language and culture. The remote work model allowed me to do the work that I love at Emergn and still follow my dream to learn Korean and experience its culture. The language is extremely hard to learn, to be honest, but I’m making progress and now I can communicate with local people on some daily matters. I also love the mentality of people here – they’re very friendly and polite, so I’m enjoying this experience and trying to make the best out of it.

What would you recommend to anyone planning to start their career in tech?

Don’t be afraid to start and get rid of any bias (I will not even list them, I know there are many). From my experience, taking the first steps was easy as I had great mentors around. It did get more challenging along the way, as sometimes the learning curve was quite steep, or I wanted to enter the next stage of my career and take more responsibility. What you should keep in mind though – not only the challenges and responsibilities grow, it’s also your expertise and capability to deal with them.