Although IT is stereotypically perceived as the domain of men, more and more women pursue their career paths in infotech. Meet exceptional women in Technology Solution Center hubs in Warsaw, Nanjing and New Delhi whose stories can be an inspiration to others.
The first #TSCsuperwomen we introduce in this article series is Honorata Stuczka-Kucharska, Head of Solution Quality in TSC Warsaw.
In her role, Honia is leading a team of 14 quality experts: Test Analysts, Test Automation Engineers, and Test Managers. She ensures that TSC Solution Quality Warsaw provides satisfying professional test services to our Partners. But the career is only one part of her life. In her private life, Honia is a mom of a 7-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old son, and the rest of her free time is devoting to her biggest passion – photography.
Honia, from banking and international relations to quality assurance? How did it happen?
In spite of what it sounds like, this was not the most diametrical turn in my professional career. Indeed, I studied International Relations and my master’s thesis was dedicated to the development of banking in the markets of Central and Eastern Europe. However, in my first job I was working in a very advanced industry - not correlated with my education - in a scientific unit that implements research programs related to oncology.
After about a year, I have decided to find a job that would be closer to the subject of my studies and I started to work for one of the biggest online banks in Poland as a Business Analyst. I discovered then that although the knowledge gained at the university makes my job much easier, my innate qualities, such as the focus on details, persistence, and ability to look at a subject from different perspectives, were helping me a lot more. What surprised me was that not the things I’ve learned at school helped me to find the career path I would like to pursue, but the way I am.
How were your first steps in IT?
In the beginning, my knowledge of IT was basic and I had to learn a lot very quickly. I really felt like I was not moving step by step, but running in a marathon! I have been deepening my knowledge about technology, improving my natural competencies, and, most importantly, working on my Achilles’ heel - training the assertiveness in communication with developers. I would never have thought that verifying the quality of software would prove to be my dream job!
Now you are Head of Solution Quality. What is your job all about?
Over the years, my career has naturally evolved towards team management, but I stuck with quality assurance in IT. I still have great fun testing and looking for defects. And although due to the duties of the manager’s role, I no longer have time to do such tasks personally, I really like to support my team in finding answers to typical QA questions: how to design tests to minimize the risk of escaped defects and maximize the quality of delivered solutions, how to test as soon and as quickly as possible.
Currently, I am leading the Solution Quality team in Warsaw. Most of my team members work in Scrum teams. It means they have to be flexible and quick-learning to be able to provide efficient and agile test services. On the one hand, my role is to take care of common standards and practices in the team, but on the other – to create space, environment for them to develop new skills. For this reason, at the end of 2019, we got the idea about pooling all Test Automation Engineers and offer our Partners Test Automation as a Service. Having all experts in one team benefits not only to Partners but it is also a great opportunity for Test Automation Engineers to take advantage of knowledge and experience synergy across topics, projects, and locations.
What being a leader means to you?
In an ever-changing, IT world people have to be open-minded and adaptive. Therefore, they need to have strong and inspiring leaders that drive them to continuous development. I believe that as a good leader I should make employees feel comfortable trying, learning, and discovering new ways of working. Seeing the people that are curious, in every-day work use their potential for seeking better sometimes even disruptive solutions is the biggest success of leadership. I love leading not managing people.
Apart from your career in DB Schenker, you also find time to actively join professional gatherings. How do you find building the network important for development?
At some point in my career, I found that the best way to find solutions for real-life QA issues is to listen and talk to others having similar experiences. Being a part of testing communities, participating in meetups and conferences creates an exceptional opportunity to learn from each other. I’ve also decided to be a speaker on conferences not only to share what I learn everyday while working with my team but also to overcome the stress of public speaking.
Honia, you say that your job is letting you be fulfilled both as a mom and as a woman. What do you think is crucial – your husband's support, employer's support, flexible working hours, or occasional home office?
All the factors you mentioned are important. Without my husband's understanding that the development of my career or passion is an equally important element in the puzzle of self-fulfillment, like being a mother and wife, I couldn't live the way I live.
At the same time, without my employer’s support and understanding that each of us has a life outside of work, typical family responsibilities, and random situations over which we have no influence, I could not be such an effective employee (I hope) I am.
TSC really meets the individual needs of employees. We practice flexible working hours and remote work. This not only helps in combining the daily family and professional lives logistics but also increases the efficiency of our work. For me, the conditions favorable for maintaining work-life balance are a very powerful motivator. I work with enthusiasm and without anxiety that the so-called home failures are beyond control.
Thank you for sharing your story, Honia!
The series of articles #TSCsuperwomen features inspiring female colleagues and their IT career paths at Technology Solution Center. Next interviews with our Super Women will come soon!