Celebrating International Girls in ICT Day - A chat with Liliana Nowak

"The only thing that matters is your skills and your willingness to improve and learn"

Did miss our first two interviews in this series? Read our chats with Davila Thompson and Sonia Piton.

Why promote Girls in ICT Day?

Worldwide, there is an estimated shortfall of over 2 million skilled ICT professionals. A career in ICT brings with it obvious benefits to both men and women, and yet many school age girls never even consider it as an option for them. There is no doubt the ICT sector will continue to grow in developed and developing countries alike, offering significant opportunities for skilled female ICT workers. International Girls In ICT Day aims to encourage young women to consider all of their options, and we are doing our bit by showcasing some of our own female talent in the hopes that their stories will inspire an honest consideration of career choice for as many girls as we may reach.

Today, we talk to Liliana Nowak. Lili is a Software Engineer at Funnelback HQ.

Where did you grow up, and what were you good at school?

I grew up in the countryside, going to country school and I ended up at one of oldest universities in Europe. I was always a curious person and I liked to learn new things so I wasn’t bad at school at nothing. But truly said, I was good only in subjects I was interested in, so math and science subjects.

What did you study at university?

I’ve two bachelor degrees, one in Human Computer Interactions, second in Business Management, both at Jagiellonian University, Poland.

How hard was it for you to find a job in ICT when you moved to another country?

I started work in IT when I still was studying. It’s a common approach in Poland, to gain practical experience as soon as possible (especially in ICT). So before I moved to Australia I had already almost four years of experience in web development, mobile application programming. Taking in account ICT is a pretty universal field in terms of knowledge/skills, I just needed to apply for a position in this area of expertise.

You speak 2 languages, Polish and English. How have your language skills benefited you in your career, if at all?

Besides those two languages, I know a little bit more two other human speaking ones (German, Spanish) and a bunch of computer ones (IT joke). If you want to work in ICT you need to know, at least on a moderate level, English. All documentation, news, seminars are in English. High-level programming languages syntax is based on English. So if you’re not coming from English speaking country, you’re pretty much forced to learn it anyway.

What appeals to you about your R&D role? Do you face any challenges?

I started work at Funnelback as a technical implementer. I was developing custom functionality and implementations of the Funnelback product, providing pre-sales and technical support. During this time I’ve gained insight into the product, learned to use new ICT tools and in combination with my previous experience I was promoted to software engineer and moved to the R&D team.

A lot of things are a challenge for me as I haven’t had previous commercial experience in tools now I’m using on a daily basis. And there are better days and worse ones that make you want to give up. But this allows you to improve yourself even more.

What is the best thing about your job?

Challenges, creative work. Happiness from fixing incorrect comma after few hours spent on reading code and trying to make it work again!

What are your aspirations for the future?

Improve my skills, be better in what I’m doing. Do my hobbies and enjoy life. I was never a person focused on career, promotions etc. For me, the most important is to do what I like to do and if someone can pay me for doing this, it’s even better.

What is it like to work in a field that is still mostly dominated by men?

The same as to being a man working as a midwife. It’s up to you. If you are good at what you do and you like to do it, it’s no matter what gender you are or from what country you’re coming from. This is what it means to be a professional and to work with professionals, the only thing that matters is your skills and your willingness to improve and learn more.

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