From a Trainee to a Team Lead: how the company’s culture influences a specialist’s growth
Kharkiv IT Cluster communicates with many successful specialists in IT. It is time to share those stories with you!
We interviewed Team Lead PM/AM Yael Acceptic Yana Ruban, to learn how she succeeded to grow from a trainee to a Team Lead in only 3 years, and how the company’s culture helped her in her way.
First steps to a manager position
It all started during student’s years if not in childhood. My speciality is a Logistics Manager. Specialists working in management know that such popular methodology as Kanban came exactly from Logistics. That is why IT management was appealing to me.
In university, I was a group leader. It was my first experience as a manager. Now, every year I become convinced that being a manager is my calling.
Doubts on a profession choice
I have never had any doubts. If I had not become a manager in IT, I would have become a manager in logistics, finances, or manufacturing. Management is something that I’ve always liked.
Inspiration in the position of a manager
I get inspired by the versatility of management tasks. You have to be able to do a lot, understand many things: technical aspects of a product, people’s psychology, recruiting, finances.
Every day a manager solves various tasks, mostly the ones you have never faced before. Throughout the day, I switch between different projects and different contexts: I make calculations, perform a smoke test of a new version, conduct a job interview.
The trainee manager position
By that time I had already been working in a small IT company as an HR Generalist (dealing with recruiting and other HR activities), and I knew the organization of processes in IT. The thing that had stopped me from entering IT as a manager was my inner fear of the industry and the lack of experience in IT management. Even though I had worked before as a logistics manager, my primary specialty, HR tasks seemed more understandable, so I switched to this position.
While working as an HR Generalist I learned that the IT industry was interesting to me. Besides, when I got to meet other specialists it turned out that many managers got their first positions in IT companies without any experience, and it was a common case for Ukrainian realities.
Nevertheless, to gain more confidence I took an IT PM course, and only then started looking for a trainee position. Yael Acceptic made me an offer.
The transition from an official post to a trainee position
When I joined the company as a trainee there had not been any strict hierarchy. My onboarding was very comfortable. That is how it is held even now in the company with other trainees. I was integrated in work processes (thanks to my mentors and manuals that were created for a trainee programm), and was given work with real projects in accordance to my level of preparation.
Other managers supported me and actively shared their experience, so I never had a feeling that I was prepared as a specialist. To be mentioned that in many ukrainian companies there are two approaches to the trainee managers learning: they are “managing” and “guidance”. In our company we support the “guidance” approach.
So step by step I could grow to the position I have now.
From a Trainee to a Team Lead: distinctly set goal or natural growth
It was a natural growth. I did not do anything on purpose to get this position.
Skills and personal qualities that helped to get the position
I think such qualities as advertence and empathy helped me to get the position. Also, for this position, you need to be broad-minded and understand what is IT like, what goals a business has (your company’s or client’s business), what is a candidate market like, how to attract and hold good specialists.
For a manager of any level, it is important to have a sincere interest in what is happening in the project development process. They say that a good manager operates well at any manufacture. Though, I think it is important to go deeper, into the technical details of the project.
Despite all the IT switchers, when foreign clients talk to a manager from Ukraine they want to see their expertise in the project issues. When a manager can differ a 3-hour task and a week task, tell a 3rd-party solution or share a way on how to implement feature flow in one call, it simplifies both client’s and the team’s life.
That is why it is essential to work not only on your soft skills but hard skills as well. This way you can be useful and bring value to the project, and not only be a “giver-translator” with quality loss.
Advice for those who dream to be an IT manager
- Be ready to take responsibility. If needed, take even more responsibility;
- Systemize theoretical knowledge in project management (books, online and offline courses, personal mentor);
- Be interested in technology;
- And obviously — learn English.
Where and how to bust up your hard skills if you are not from IT
To begin with, I would recommend you to learn what type of perception of information you have. For example, I almost do not read professional literature since I perceive information aurally better. I like to discuss what I have heard or seen, and I love video lectures and professional meetups.
Anyway, for those who have just entered IT, I recommend watching and listening to as much different information as possible.
If to talk about books, I would recommend the following ones:
- PMBOK — a classic example of project management;
- “A black manager’s book”, by Slava Pankratov. This tiny collection is a graft from a conceit many managers struggle with.
And obviously, I recommend taking the course “IT Project Management Fundamentals”. At least it will make you more confident when applying for a job (my case).
Advice for those who want to work in management
Be interested in what other departments of your company do, do not be afraid to share your knowledge and experience with colleagues (not only managers). Be interested in your clients: what their business is like, what they are guided by when they come to a decision. It will surely help in your work.
Kharkiv IT Cluster thanks Yana for such a detailed interview with lots of advice. We are sure that it will help those who have just started their career in IT management.
Don’t be afraid to become better — develop your knowledge and skills, projects and businesses.