Do I need an engineering background to have a career in the digital industry? Does my previous experience in non-IT sectors is an advantage or disadvantage? Can I be part of the AI or big data processing team with my humanitarian background?

What is the answer?

We should open our eyes and take the opportunities that the digital transformation creates instead of putting limitations on ourselves. 

This thesis has been shared during the latest edition of the special BCWT female leadership format SHEleader in a SHELL. On November 24 the episode, called  “Tech Career for Non-Engineers – Mission Possible”, met the audience with Alexandrina Gindeva, Head of Global Delivery Hub at Experian. The Moderator of the discussion was Sasha Bezuhanova, Founder and Chair of the Bulgarian Center of Women in Technology (BCWT).

Mission possible

Alexandrina is an example of a successful female IT manager with a non-engineering background. She has a linguistic and national security education along with a Ph.D. in management. Since April 2019, she is responsible for the delivery of Experian’s decision analytics solutions across all company regions globally with a focus on Cloud solutions.

“The background becomes a blocker only if we allow it to – it is up to each individual to define their own limits. I have never thought about my non-engineering background as a limitation or as a blocker for entering a new sphere or a new industry like the IT industry was at that time.

People who come from different backgrounds that are not necessarily engineering can give lots of benefits to a purely technical area. Clouds have engineering construct but you do not have to know the knits and bolts of how things operate to be able to manage a team that does something in IT or to be able to contribute to such a team,” Alex explained.

According to Sasha, spreading the news about the possibilities is a crucial part of engaging more non-engineers in the digital industry and overcoming the digital divide.

“It is important how we communicate this on a broader basis because many people relate cloud companies or engineering projects with tech-heavy skills. While in practice, it is more about how we program the future world because that is what we are doing using digital technology as a platform.”

Sasha Bezuhanova, on the left, and Alexandrina Gindeva, on the right, during the live broadcast of “SHEleader in a SHEll: Tech Career for Non-Engineers – Mission Possible!”.

Fresh perspectives

Non-engineers are an important part of teams in an IT company, Alex said, because they are able to bring a fresh perspective, to notice important issues related to the products and services with their non-IT viewpoint, and also to identify opportunities.

“We can not be limited just by people who come from engineering backgrounds, we need to rely on a wide pool and make sure we are able to take what is good from different backgrounds […] 

One of the things I am really proud of is that my team has people from various different backgrounds. We do technical stuff – we configure software, we deploy it – but we have people that have decided to change their careers, to take this unconventional step and bring their previous expertise to our world.

This is the winning combo we should look at.”

According to Sasha, who has an engineering background and more than 25 years experience in high-level positions in the digital industry, non-engineers bring an important fresh perspective to the digital industry, because of their different framework of thinking and interpreting the world. However, she added, this can happen if we overcome the stereotypes and prejudices. 

According to Sasha, it is very important for women to put aside self-limitations and to open their eyes to the opportunities of the New World.

“Women try to look like men in the male-dominated industries such as AI instead of keeping their authenticity and be authentic in their professional and private lives. Being authentic, opens much bigger doors because they are strong in this situation, Sasha explained and added:

“From my experience, the engagement of women on an equal basis and amounts within the teams or management level is adding a different perspective.”

Experian is pretty-well balanced, said Alexandrina, adding that the company has a 49:51 percentage male-female ratio, excluding high-level management positions. Her own team has more women than men with a ratio of 2:1 for the management part.

“This has never been a naturally purposeful strategy of let’s have more women. It has been a strategy of having the right people for the job. 

If we are really talking about an unbiased decision-making process then this should be the approach.”

  • What is the role of business in the digital transition?
  • What are the best practices in training a team?
  • What is the role of society’s stereotypes and the self-limitations that young girls put on themselves?

Find the answers to those and many more questions in SHEleader in a SHEll: Tech Career for Non-Engineers – Mission Possible! Watch the full discussion here:

SHEleader in a SHEll

A special format, organized by BCWT with the media partnership of MOVE.BG that creates a bridge to the international conference SHEleader@digitalIt shows successful female leaders from the digital industry, modern art, and innovative green projects. SHEleader in a SHEll stimulates international dialogue and engages a broad audience with the aim to change attitudes and to stimulate a working atmosphere that opens the potential of both women and men.