Changemakers: Women in Tech

Women in Tech interview with Natalia, Lead Design Engineer at Emergn

Meet Natalia, our Lead Design Engineer at Emergn, #myemergn awards winner, and a professional who runs the world by living The Emergn Way principles. Natalia shares how she started her career and her recipe to be successful without overthinking too much and focusing her energy on things and situations that she can impact.

What is your role at Emergn?

I’m a Lead Design Engineer at Emergn, working on a team which builds seamless and intuitive User Interface for our clients. My work is an intersection of design and programming; I’m bringing a “sense of the beauty” to the work our team is doing.

What is your backstory? Did you always know you wanted to work in IT?

When I was a child, I wanted to become a doctor. However, immediately I changed my mind after visiting hospital for the first time, as I realized this job and environment was absolutely not for me. After school, I was studying Economics, as it was very popular field back then. Fast enough I realized it’s not where my passion is and what I want to do for the rest of my life. So, at university, I decided to study math.

Now it might sound odd, but people looked at me strangely back then, as in this faculty you could only find women who failed the exams for the economics department. I wasn’t clear on how my career path would evolve, but I was confident enough to try. Luckily, web grew exponentially back then and company websites became more and more popular, so I started creating them. I was really enjoying the process and so my career path in the IT field began.

What makes a great Design Engineer?

It’s really quite simple: love what you do. But in practice, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. One can have very strong technical skills, meanwhile lacking the understanding of the principle “deliver value early and often.” The other can be technically less knowledgeable but has developed very good communication skills. So, it’s very important to find the right fit for each talent.

Obviously, experience also plays an important role. Along the years of working on different assignments and finding solutions to many challenging cases, you get to the point where you have enough knowledge to do your work well and also can help others to succeed in their careers.

What essential skills helped you to grow professionally?

I believe it was a mix of technical background and well-developed soft skills that helped me along the way. If you want to be successful, it’s essential to continuously learn and develop. Also, the more challenging tasks you’ll be assigned, the more you’ll grow.

If you want to work on meaningful and interesting assignments, you need to work as a team and listen and support each other to deliver value to the customer. Listening and really trying to understand what your colleague or the client is saying is essential. There was an occasion where our client was absolutely thrilled by the work we delivered, but to tell you the truth – we simply did our job. We listened carefully, understood what problem to solve, and delivered the solution on time. And most of the time, it’s really that simple.

You are a Lead Design Engineer. How do your work with your team?

I have an amazing team that keeps me motivated each day. We help each other to grow, as they teach me to be a good leader and I help them to do their work well and succeed.

Before we started working remotely, we had a tradition of having lunch together. From funny small talk about the weather to a discussion of the infiniteness of space and time – we enjoyed being together and felt free talking about any relevant topic. It helped us to get to know each other better, acquire the team spirit, and support each other. I used to come into the office asking, “how’s everyone doing” and other questions, which indicated the temperature of the overall atmosphere. After switching to the remote work, it’s a bit more complicated, but we keep the communication going.

On our regular calls, we meet and share what we have learned, what difficulties we encountered, and how we have solved them. The most important thing is that it’s not just about the technical side of work, it’s about human interaction too. We can discuss how we work with clients, how we organize the full communication process, and how to use our soft skills in our work more effectively.

Last year you won our internal award, #myEmergn, in the “Role Model” category. What do you think a role model is and how do you feel being recognized as one?

A role model is a person you look up to, recognize how they navigate through different tasks, and communicate with the rest of the team. You feel like it’s a definition of a good work and want to act in a similar manner.

For me as a leader, it has always been important to remember that everything you do as a leader or as an individual will be transmitted to the team in different direct and subtle ways. You’re playing an important role in how your team will act, respond in different situations, and how the overall internal culture within the team will evolve. For example, if you are a team lead who always has hard times adjusting to changes, then your team most likely will be very resistant in trying a new approach to work.

How do you cope with the dose of responsibility you have?

To tell you the truth, I’m just not thinking about it. Thinking endlessly about the level of responsibility is the same as thinking about the meaning of the life. It can take a lot of time and consume a lot of your energy, but eventually there’s no clear answer. So, my philosophy is just keep doing my job as well as I can; meanwhile, if I can help someone along the way – I go ahead and do it.

What would you recommend to anyone looking for ways to climb up the career ladder?

I would say – invest in yourself. Develop your soft skills as much as your hard skills, as good communication skills are the key to success. Keep up with the industry trends, read as much as you can about your field and nearby industries. The world is changing very fast, technology is advancing at an incredible pace, and you want to be informed and knowledgeable to stay at the top of the game.