Kseniia has been working in IT for seven and a half years. She runs a large team of 92 members and finds that emotional intelligence is essential for effective work. On top of that, Kseniia has a superpower to go on vacation for two weeks and not read work emails the whole time.
You’ve been working in IT for about eight years. Do you think the attitude to women in this sphere has changed?
I started as an analyst in recruitment, with a purely female team. Then, as a Business Analyst, I joined the team with a lot of girls, so I didn’t notice anything had changed. I was lucky with the teams: I didn’t notice a biased attitude towards women during all this time. A couple of times, I faced some sexist comments, but quickly stopped that. I don’t think someone can treat you in a way you don’t allow them to. And if you don’t allow it, no one will take the chance of treating you in some bad way.
What would you advise girls who’d like to start working in IT?
Not to stop. There are professional areas where stereotypes are still very strong. For example, female pilots may not taken seriously. I think there are fewer stereotypes in IT compared to any other industry. They can still be scary, and it may even seem that there is a purely “male” atmosphere.
If you are afraid, you can stay where you are at the current moment. But would that be enough for you in five or ten years? You should take steps even if you are apprehensive — try things out, work hard, especially on self-development. And don’t let anyone treat you the way you don’t want to be treated.
Who inspires you?
Strong personalities who outgrow themselves by learning and working hard. Girls I’m working with inspire me a lot. They always share much energy and ideas. My friends inspire me. They succeed in what they are doing. But I still draw the biggest portion of inspiration from my mom. I wouldn’t be who I am now without her. She’s a strong person and has taught me a lot of important things, like standing up for myself, working hard, and growing.
Does it happen that you inspire yourself?
It may happen when everything goes well. When you can stop, look back at what you’ve already done, and enjoy it. This rarely happens because I am usually self-critical and realize that I could make things better than they are. My inner critic never sleeps, so it is not that easy to inspire myself. But in the last year, I started paying more attention to it. The team has almost tripled in size. When I realize it, see that people like to work here and appreciate the atmosphere we create, I think to myself “Not bad, not bad.”
How do you relax?
Not enough. (Laughing) I need to rest more, it is very important to me. I abstract myself by turning off all notifications, not entering the email box and reading working chats. The work remains at work and nothing will happen to it because I’ve done everything possible so that my team can simply handle it independently.
It took me a long time to start extricating myself from work. I always wanted to look what is going on. It sometimes happened that I had a rest, did nothing, but my hands reached for opening a working chat. And I can’t read something and then forget about it — I start thinking about how I can complete the task, build a plan of action, and mentally get back to the office. It is hard to relax this way.
There will always be a lot of work, but getting a good rest is not less important.
If you could turn on and off yours and other people’s certain qualities, what would they be?
I would turn off my Straight A's Student syndrome. Sometimes it disturbs me a lot, especially when I do things not as perfectly as I wish or I have to postpone something due to lack of time or fatigue. In such cases, I would turn it off because it causes unpleasant feelings.
As for the rest, I would turn on emotional intelligence. People often don’t want to take others’ work into account or they even depreciate it. They are convinced that if someone doesn’t roll out all the bells and whistles, then they do nothing.
How much does emotional intelligence affect work processes? Tell us from the manager’s point of view.
Work processes and emotional intelligence are directly connected. First and foremost, we should always remember that we work with people. Even if you are a developer who’s writing the code and wants to talk to nobody, the communication is still inevitable. The effective interaction is impossible without understanding other people and the latter will create a different atmosphere inside the team. It’s not mandatory for colleagues to go to a bar for drinks together for heart-to-heart talks. But while at work, they should respect each other.
Depreciation is also caused by disrespect. People sometimes speak, shooting straight from the hip and consider that he is right. But telling the truth to someone’s face doesn’t bring long-term benefits. On the contrary, acting that way can simply push people away. They will keep in mind the situation and, next time will be cautious about doing something that is not appreciated by others.
Emotional intelligence requires personal development and walking a mile in somebody else’s shoes.
People are egocentric by their nature and it’s ok. But when working in a team, you can’t just start from that. The other person may get tired, experience burnout, worry about a sick cat, whatever. You may not know all that because you don’t closely communicate with this person. But you should always put yourself in one another’s shoes to understand how you would feel in these situations.
Do you think there is a difference between women and men when it comes to emotional intelligence?
I would have previously said “yes.” But I once faced a situation that changed my mind. Now, I can’t divide people by gender when it comes to feelings and emotional intelligence they may have. One day, guys had a spat and quite a rude conversation until they concluded that there were things that “offended” each of them. Even the hardest situations may still offend men. It is yet more proof that we are equal in terms of feelings and experiences because we are all people above all else.