Irina Levotchkina and Natasja Laurie are on the same engineering team at A Cloud Guru. At work on the Business Management team, they are creating a seamless admin user experience for our Enterprise customers. Outside of work, their similar passions, despite having very different backgrounds, created a fast friendship.
They agreed to tell their stories to show others that there are safe spaces for women in tech and that a career in engineering is a real option.
Irina: Both of my parents were mechanical engineers, so it felt completely normal to me to be an engineer of some sort. I grew up in Russia, which is where I started university. There were a lot of girls going through university with me, so it didn’t occur to me that this was anything but normal. I did a dual degree in Computing and Business – Banking & Finance. When we came to Australia midway through my studies, I noticed it was a bit different. My banking and finance courses were full of girls, but in my computing classes, there was only a handful.
The girls would often ask to do the parts of projects around documentation or testing rather than implementation. It was a bit strange because they were intelligent, bright girls. I would ask them, “Why don’t you want to do it? You’re really good at this.” I remember having that question a lot when I was studying.
Natasja: For me, it was about not seeing tech career paths being promoted enough for women. Maybe I would have gotten into this career sooner if that opportunity was more apparent to me.
I come from a non-conventional background. I did recruitment for tech for about 5 years, so I had a high-level idea of how it worked but not in a practical sense. When I made the transition, I was worried about feeling out of my depth. I was worried that I might be at a disadvantage from people who had a more traditional computer science background, but that wasn’t an issue when I interviewed at ACG, and it hasn’t been an issue since I’ve joined.
I’ve been encouraged to learn everything, and I’ve had the opportunity to grow. ACG’s mission, being focused on education, really resonates with me and that was a big factor in why I joined.
Irina: The mission about accessible education really resonated with me too. The accessibility element of the product and org was important. Having ideas hours, our set learning time, and the push to learn is something that I love. It hasn’t always been a part of the workplaces I’ve been at in the past.
Natasja: Making it easier for anyone, anywhere to get a career in the tech industry is what I resonated with the most. You see a lot more people coming from a bootcamp rather than uni, who wouldn’t have gone into tech otherwise. The sense of accessibility to a tech career and visibility of people coming from bootcamps is beginning to trickle down to the school level. Hopefully, that will keep changing things so that they are more equal and representative.
Irina: I agree! Maybe in previous generations, there weren’t as many women in technical jobs? Maybe it’s a lack of role models upfront? I don’t know for sure.
I didn’t read a lot about it or think it was any different because I just grew up thinking that going into a technical field was normal.
Seeing more girls now is really good, especially for younger people coming into the workforce. Having a role model makes a difference.
When I first met A Cloud Guru’s Engineering Manager Michelle Gleeson (now Director of Engineering) that was the highest role I’d seen a woman in, in any organization that I’d worked for. I remember saying to people at my last company, “If I could work with a female architect that would give me a huge boost because I’ve never seen one!” Seeing women in high-level roles makes you think you can do it too.
Natasja: Just like Irina said, having that female role model in a high position, supporting you really does inspire and drive you. Regardless, just don’t doubt yourself, you can do it just like anyone else. You just need to buckle down and keep on learning.
Irina is a role model for me! We work really closely together. She is a bit more experienced, but has always been really helpful and is happy to put time aside to give me support. We met here and now we spend almost every day together!
Irina: I love making friends at work! Working with Tasj is great, she’s a really quick learner.
Natasja: It’s not just all about work though. When we were in the office we would do things like go for walks during lunch and hang out as well. There’s been so much change since we started. It’s really nice to have someone who is a constant friend.
See where you fit in at ACG
Learn more about engineering careers at A Cloud Guru by visiting the Product & Engineering page on our careers site.