The position of women in IT: how to get a leadership role?

The position of women in IT: how to get a leadership role?

6 min read
The position of women in IT how to get a leadersh

In terms of women leaders in tech, Serbia leads in comparison to many European countries. Their approach to how to build a career path in IT can therefore provide you with valuable insight into career development, which we learn about first-hand in this text. Through it, and from a personal perspective and experience, Ivana Frankić, principal development consultant at Endava, leads a team of 60 developers and testers for the last two years..

By the way, Ivana is one of the large number of women in leadership positions in this company, in which 38% of line managers on a global level are women. There are similar statistics in Ivana's team - the project she is working on is led by five team leads, three of whom are female colleagues.

Through practice in the test automation program, C++ developer, Java and web application development, Ivana's job today is a combination of delivery manager and senior developer - she deals with the strategic and operational part of projects, while simultaneously writing code and fixing bugs.

How would you describe your career path so far, was it "typical" or unusual in some way?

I've been at Endava for 15 years and it's my only employer for now, but I've been through a lot of roles/positions during that time. What is atypical is that I started as a junior in test automation, and then, after a year, switched to development.

My beginnings in development are connected, logically, to a junior position - I started as a junior developer, where I learned the job with the help of a mentor, got acquainted with different technologies and improved my knowledge in that field. Later, as a mid-level, and then as a senior, you get to know even more technologies and then the first turning point comes - you become a mentor and start to spread your influence and knowledge a little more to other people. What comes later is leading a team of people in the form of a technical lead role or a team lead role. And that's actually where the branching occurs - we take care of people more, we program less, or vice versa. I'm now at the stage where I'm both - team lead and developer, and I can't give up one or the other yet. This is now my dream job because I get the best from both sides.

How did you switch from test automation to development?

I came for the internship for test automation, straight from the university, with a feeling of insecurity, that there is still a lot to learn. Although test automation is in some way development, it does not bear that greater responsibility, it is not code in production (if anything). At first I tried a little, and learned, then in the meantime I developed self-confidence and an opportunity appeared, a junior position in development, and that is actually what prompted me to change my discipline.

When do you think it's time for a change and what are the main criteria for moving to another position or to another employer? Have you already gone through that change, and what prompted you to do it? What are the disadvantages/advantages that you noticed?

A desire for something new, and different appeared... In particular, after some time, I felt that I had learned a lot of what interested me in my current position and project, and now I would like to do something different. So in the beginning, for three or four years, I made big changes within the same company - in the job description, position, projects, technologies, and in the end I reached the position of team lead.

On the one hand, it happened naturally, because before that I was a mentor, developing soft skills and working on relationships with people, and on the other hand, I was pushed by the mentor, with the words "Come on, now is the opportunity". And it turned out great, getting out of my comfort zone that opened up a whole new opportunity for me to progress.

Otherwise, people most often become team leads within existing teams, where you already know the entire environment, the people you work with... The moment you become a mentor, you start developing soft skills, learning how to approach different people, how to adapt, and, a few years later, that change is certainly noticeable. In practice, it looks like this - if you are good at mentoring, it naturally happens that people come to you for advice, to help them, to praise you... That's how you actually become an informal team leader and then it only becomes formalized at some point.

Do you think the technical interview should be part of career hygiene?

As someone who has changed his career path a lot, my recommendation is that you first try to find that opportunity with the same employer. Especially when you are in a junior position. At that stage of your career, it is important to have a good environment that will help you acquire essential knowledge and build yourself into a quality engineer. The advice I always give to juniors and mid-levels from my team who are thinking about changing companies is to carefully weigh how much will be expected of them in their new job and how much time they will have to develop. Why? I know from my own example that, here at Endava, juniors and mid-levels have a very good environment for progress, a support system through other mid-levels and seniors. As a result, when in a few years they are built and on the threshold of seniors, as already formed engineers, it is up to them to decide in which direction they want to develop further. Therefore, money is not and should not be the deciding factor if you want to grow into a good engineer.

We usually meet with the following polarity - juniors and mid-levels like to test their value on the labor market and are still "looking for" themselves, while seniors have already positioned themselves within the company and are choosing further opportunities for their career development in a familiar environment. I honestly don't think about it, because I've been "sitting" in the same company for a long time, and I've proven to myself that I had and still have the opportunity to develop in the way I want, as long as nothing else suffers.

What does the transition to a completely new tech stack entail and are we ready to leave our tech comfort zone?

I think that whoever waits to be ready to leave the comfort zone, should know that he is missing on so many things. Even if I had waited, I wouldn't have changed anything - I would still be doing C++. Simply, there was a change in the project, we switched to Java, which I only had contact with before at university, and we managed. There were a lot of senior people on the team, mentors for consultations who were there to help me in all this. Looking back, I'm not at all sorry that it happened. I expanded my knowledge, got a better perspective and new opportunities to advance, great variety in work.

Aside from your example, there are actually two scenarios where you move to a new tech stack. The first is the one I mentioned - a sudden change in the project, where it is important to have a support system, while the second is a planned change that can happen for personal reasons, and not necessarily for company goals. In this case, it is very important to make a good balance - so that the project does not suffer while you are learning something new. What I would advise with this variant is not to go to the extreme and not to prepare endlessly, but to let yourself go.

How much does technology relate to our knowledge?

From my experience so far, it has been shown that it is much more useful to have core knowledge, rather than detailed knowledge of specific technologies. Although, that "theory" is also important, and here's why - even though what we learn at university seems useless to us, we will eventually apply it in business. At the university, one learns the engineering way of thinking - how to study, master new knowledge, quickly adapt to new technologies that are constantly "emerging". When you master all that, you will easily manage in any scenario. You can know everything about react, but find it difficult to switch to anything else. Then you are not an engineer, but a react developer.

What position do you aspire to now, and which one did you aspire to five years ago?

If someone had asked me five years ago where I see myself in five years, I probably wouldn't have given a description of what I'm doing now. But what happened to me during that period is the fact that I started to enjoy the impact I see in people, in working with them and their progress, as well as in their delight when they themselves make some success. So now I'm a bit more drawn to it... Maybe in five years I won't be programming anymore, but I'll be an engineering manager, dedicated only to working with people. We'll see…

And how do you see yourself in five years? If you are thinking about changing the direction of your career path, you may be interested in the currently open positions in this company. Check Endava's profile on the Joberty platform.

[10:27 AM]