Karyna Prykhodko, Junior Delivery Manager at Innovecs
I could start this piece by saying that I’ve always dreamed of becoming a manager, but that would be untrue. What is true, though, I didn’t see myself anywhere else. There has always been an acute awareness of not belonging to the creative world but being a person of organization, structure, and order. My calling is to accompany, direct, support, delegate, and be scolded for all that, if needed.
Rewinding to my childhood, I was the president of several schools, and on top of that, I was the head of the class and administered all cultural events. Of course, back then, it was pretty hard to conclude that leadership, even youthful and somewhat naive, defined the future career choice. However, such imaginary responsibility fed my self-confidence for the future, which made taking real adult responsibility for serious things not that scary.
My brain has always followed the axiom that promises have to be kept. If for some reason, I cannot do everything on time, I will give the heads-up, explain myself, and reschedule. I have developed a culture of interaction with people, which boils down to complete transparency about agreements and expectations. Violation of the action plan inevitably causes a butterfly effect, which entails consequences. Structure and consistency in work-related matters are unshakeable, whereas, in my personal life off work, I am perpetually late. That is to say, while my work discipline is at the highest level, in a non-work environment, I allow myself to take a break from this rigor.
Friends and foes of fast growth
The fear of making a mistake is what keeps a specialist from rapid advancement. Yes, I admit that during releases, I also experience some anxiety about negative feedback from business customers. I am always apprehensive because I’m in charge of the process itself and its delivery. And if something goes wrong, it means that the mistake was made at the top and then spread through the cobweb to the entire team. Errors are our major growth enablers. And that being said, it is far better to learn from the mistakes of others.
You have to welcome challenges with open arms. Before joining my current job, I had a slightly different area of responsibility, it was more of an assistance to a senior delivery manager. Wherever I was, I had a great desire to explore the unknown. It seems that at some point, my great ambitions started to press on my superior so hard that he began to delegate more and more and ultimately passed on the entire project to me. To this day, I still continue to literally beg for new challenges — I totally get their value.
You must understand what you want and why you need it. Of course, you can sit in the same office for 30 years and feel fine, but that rather shows you are not flexible. And dexterity is today’s utmost necessity.
Crisis situations especially emphasize this. Even if the business finds itself in an unforeseen situation, at such times, you need to know what to say to your teammates and clients because we are talking about huge budgets here. The customers are not to blame for the crisis. On the other hand, you need to think about the team, put it together, motivate and feel everyone. In trying times, we as a team succeed in that with flying colors. Therefore, it is vital to challenge yourself since the comfort zone is inherently destructive. You lie in the sun, and everything seems ok. But when clouds are hovering over your head, you don’t know what to do because you don’t even have an umbrella.
Role models as a source of inspiration
Since my main focus is technology, I always keep abreast of current trends and events in the field. My social circle is 90% IT people. For me, it is much more interesting to communicate with colleagues from my domain than, say, from culinary arts. Overall, I have developed such a setup that all my surroundings support me and give me an impetus for developing and moving forward. I had no idea what NFT was until my friends told me and got interested in the topic.
Reflections on the gender agenda
In my memory, as a woman I’ve never felt any oppression or discomfort in a male-dominated environment. I clearly remember my first working day, it was January 10th. I must say that before that, I had no experience in the tech domain. On the morning of that day, I was introduced to my teammates, who turned out to be grown men of a rather brutal appearance. And at that time, I was only 20 years old. I was filled with doubts about whether they would take me seriously. But contrary to my concerns, the conversation was enjoyable and relaxed. It got to the point that when there were difficulties on another project, they gave me great support and figuratively wiped my tears. Therefore, there were some fears on the subject, but none of them materialized.
To be honest, my worries were not so much about my gender but about my age, but then again, I felt only respect and a desire to help. Perhaps some hidden issues could slip unnoticed, after all, a young woman in a leadership position is a minority phenomenon. I think I consciously turn my blind eye on such things because I believe there is no gender at work. You are either a team that is moving towards a common goal or men and women who want to figure out who is more important. If needed, I can put anyone in their place.
Building Trust in Remote Culture
Building relationships where people fully trust each other is not easy. This is more than one month’s work, plus it is further complicated by the fact that the team works completely remotely. Previously, we often saw each other in the office, we could drink coffee and have a quick chat, and after a working day, go somewhere and spend time in an informal setting. Now, this is not the case. If earlier, remote work was a matter of preference, today, due to many circumstances, this is a given.
In general, I see both pros and cons in the remote: there is no need to waste time on the commute. On the other hand, the process of keeping track of who is doing what is a bit tricky. We do not have time tracking; here, I completely trust my guys. The tasks and performance speak for themselves. Everything is obvious: if a person wants to fool around, one will definitely do so. If the situation becomes critical and the entire team or sprint is in jeopardy, it needs to be dealt with asap. As you gain experience, you can easily figure out these things.
I have 1:1 meetings with each teammate, where we share a lot with each other. Maybe someone will tell me about the problem that caused the reduced performance last week. Together we will find out how and when we can make things better. As for me, communication is the root of all problems and, at the same time, the root of their solution. Therefore, it is important to build communication and processes in such a way that there is maximum transparency and people are not afraid to share their concerns with you. We have complete trust: we are honest, and our pain points are not a secret.
Leveraging Your Strengths
The core skill for my profession is attention to detail. There are many little things where we fell flat more than once: I could miss the focus, and eveything began to fall like domino bricks.
It is vital to be open to both good and bad events and to be able to give and receive timely feedback without a hint of toxicity. Getting an answer to your question is the engine of progress. Even if there are negative moments, you must learn to accept them and work on them.
Resilience is always important, whether it’s a crisis or not. People who surround us at work are very different, both colleagues and clients. There are distinctions in mentalities, cultures and traditions, backgrounds, and work ethics. Misunderstandings happen, and they can provoke a negative reaction, which in turn can be taken personally. But in fact, it can simply be a linguistic inconsistency, whether it is the form of the verb or the inclination. Based on this, it is necessary to improve intercultural communication skills, be sincerely interested in human beings, and hone your knowledge of English. And, of course, emotional intelligence is what makes us professionals even under the toughest circumstances.
Areas For Improvement
I want to deepen my knowledge in many areas. But the one who knows everything knows nothing. For me, the main goal of my further growth is people management. Here we are talking not only about work-related stuff but about an individual approach to the person broadly. I want to expand my knowledge of what it means to understand each other and how to be someone that the team wants to look up to.
I also intend to master product development, not in terms of project management and process organization, but in product management. The demand for innovative products will only grow exponentially, and so will the investments, hence, the study of the product area will bear fruit.
Pep Talk For The Ambitious
Fear paralyzes and often prevents you from expressing yourself and taking important steps in career development. I would like to advise everyone who has embarked on the manager’s path not to be afraid of responsibility. It is pivotal to find senior colleagues to whom you can turn and come up with a question. And by the way, do not hesitate to ask questions, I took time to get to that. Today I’m not worried about looking stupid; all I think about is that I will now
close this topic forever, I will be smarter, and this will not drag after me for years. We are all learning, no one was a professional from the first minute. We crawled before we could walk. Getting upright requires self-motivation and the support of someone who will put you on your feet.
GGL disclaimer: this entry was written within the alliance signed with INNOVECS to improve our community´s communicative skills in English. It was approved by Joanna Prieto. Get to know more about our program TALENTOS 4.0