Olena Ratova, Project Coordinator: “I feel support in Innovecs, and it is invaluable to me”
The ability to speak heart-2-heart is a skill that will come in handy many times. We often let our reflective selves out. But how often do we really convey our message so that people hear us rather than get hurt? Olena Ratova, the Project Coordinator, masters this skill through her passion for psychology. This science is her personal assistant in life as a whole and in the workplace in particular. Besides, Olena has a fabulous world of art: it has colors and pallets, canvas, silence, and creation here and now. Read about this and more below in inFocus.
— Who did you dream of being as a child?
— A dancer. I danced professionally and all my goals were in this area.
— How important is the support of the family in the formation of both the individual and the professional?
— I think that support matters. However, I was not particularly supported. As a child, I suffered from this. Our parents’ understanding of the importance of support sometimes comes with age. Now everything is different: they are supportive and proud of me. But it took years.
— Did they come to this understanding upon seeing your achievements?
— Being into psychology, I raised this topic several times. I wanted to express my feelings, to say what I liked and what I didn’t. After I managed to convey this idea, everything changed. In general, some people need this straightforwardness.
— How did the parents react to such directness? Were they offended?
— At first, I sensed their offense. It took time and effort — little strokes fell great oaks. Along with giving specific examples, you need to be patient and gentle. Being direct does not mean shooting from the hip. I didn’t realize it right away.
— Why did you start doing what you do now?
— I did not have such a plan to be what I am now. Actually, I have a degree in Tourism Management. I worked in a large company and I liked it there. After leaving the decree, I decided to try something new. At Innovecs, I took on the role of Travel Manager, organizing business trips and resolving all related issues. And then quarantine began. At that time, an acquaintance of mine worked for the company as a Project Coordinator, who decided to pursue her career and invited me to take her place. It all happened very quickly: I was interviewed the same day. We immediately hit it off with my manager.
Then there were a number of courses. One of them is Google Project Management, which I recommend to all beginners in the field. The training gave me a solid foundation.
— Wasn’t there a fear of starting something new?
— You bet. Doubts, lack of self-confidence, impostor syndrome — these things accompanied me for some time. Communicating with people at Innovecs inspired me to move forward. In addition, the first wins in the new field are inspiring.
— What qualities are most important in your profession?
— Sociability, and finding common ground with everyone. We have a team of 27 employees. The composition is diverse: introverts, extroverts; those who like to share, and those who prefer to keep everything to themselves. My interest in psychology helps. I always try to understand the inner world of a person, to sort things out, to offer solutions or help. You need to be able to find a compromise so that everyone feels comfortable. The ability to self-organize is also important in the work. Never a dull moment, because every day I have seven or eight meetings, among which there are urgent calls from the client.
— What does your workday look like?
— The morning begins with three status meetings with three different teams, which take an average of an hour and a half. I review Jira and work chats in advance to understand who is doing what. Next are meetings with our team from Tel Aviv, and clients. In other words, most of the time is occupied by calls, with the elimination of bottlenecks in between them. According to my estimates, I speak 90% of the time.
— Have you had any burnouts?
— In my last position, I realized that I could no longer stay there any longer. If there is no movement forward, things stop making sense. But there were people who immediately showed me another door and opened it. Massive thanks to Dmytro Kryvenko, our technical leader, who did not allow me to slip into this state. Therefore, I was on the verge of burnout. Also, I had not been on vacation for a long time.
— What challenges accompany you in your daily work?
— The first and most important is understanding the technical intricacies without special education. You have to read and learn something all the time. In addition, I am a creative person with no mathematical mind.
— And what is the most interesting part of the work?
— Organizational aspects, such as collaboration. Initially, communication with the Israeli team was limited to chatting. By making a lot of effort, we managed to unite and achieve a state of a single organism. The result motivates and you want to achieve more. Through trial and error, I was going for this cohesion step by step. When we finally arrived at the close connection between all of us — even hundreds of kilometers away from each other — I was happy and understood that everything was not in vain.
— How does cohesion influence the end result?
— I am happy to work in a friendly team. In conducting interviews, I try to choose like-minded people. In my opinion, open communication within the team is very important, where no one hides anything. There should be no hesitation to ask and clarify something. In a friendly atmosphere, you do not come to work, but to your second family, where understanding prevails and you feel safe.
— How do you detect like-minded people?
— First, I trust my intuition. Secondly, you can see it in the way one reacts to a situation. There were cases when the candidate began to cheat, use ploys, dodge questions or be abrupt. Such a person will not be able to integrate into our team, simply because this is not the way we communicate — there is no abrasiveness and subtext. It takes 20 minutes to draw a conclusion. One can develop purely technically, but changing the character and the inner world is impossible. Therefore, it is much more appropriate to hire a junior specialist with aligned values and grow him into a top-notch professional.
— How to start mastering your profession?
— The basis is the PMBOK (Project Management Body Of Knowledge) course. There are a number of lectures on Scrum that I listen to all the time. It all depends on one’s purpose. Also, the above-mentioned Google Project Management course provides fundamentals in many aspects up to conflict resolution. You need to love people in the first place. If you are a loner or anti-social, the chances of professional progress are nil, because management is communication first and foremost.
— What helps you to be effective?
— I use Todoist and Google Calendar. You need to stop yourself from keeping everything in mind because something will be inevitably lost in the endless sea of tasks. Teamwork helps a lot because all people and tasks are interconnected. In recent years, I have managed to strengthen my self-discipline.
— How will technology change your profession in the future?
— There are many tools for managing, and estimating tasks. The gamification of management is in full swing and everything is available online. There are convenient resources and applications that simplify the process. Why draw diagrams yourself, if the tracking system can do it for you. At the same time, no service will replace communication with a person. Tools are helpers with routine tasks.
— Did Innovecs help you explore new hobbies?
— I started doing Fly Yoga. This is a full-fledged workout that is pleasantly exhausting. Almost my entire team plays table tennis, which is not my sport. It is awesome that Innovecs has a wide range of communities where people can team up. It’s nice to see how employees having common interests, turn into friends. Kudos to Innovecs for the richness of the communities. I would love to see more communities dedicated to winter activities, such as snowboarding.
— Is there a work/life balance?
— The weekend is made for the family. Of course, the boundaries are a bit blurred, but it is important to be able to set them from time to time. I try to make sure that my team doesn’t have overtime. Apart from work, there is another side of life that cannot be postponed or forgotten.
— Where do you look for inspiration?
— I love drawing, handicrafts, and cooking. Creativity fills me.
— What artists do you like?
— I love Van Gogh, whose exhibition I visited in Amsterdam. For the most part, I love the Impressionists. I often attend уxhibitions of little-known artists in Kyiv. Although I do not draw professionally, the world of painting inspires me. My four-year-old and I take paper, brushes, or pencils and just silently draw together, enjoying the process.
— Why are you studying today and would like to study in the future?
— Continuing education is a necessity for modern humans. I still have a lot to learn in the technical area. The main things are curiosity and genuine interest in the topic. In 2022 I plan to visit PM Day.
— Which of Innovecs’ corporate culture do you like the most?
— Obviously, access to a large number of communities, which is constantly replenished. And the opportunity to switch professions within the company. In that case, you will always get help, piece of advice, and guidance. I like transparency and ease of communication because there are no barriers that protect top management from subordinates. You can always meet Alex, our CEO, or other people from C-Suite in the hallway and exchange a few words.
— What makes you happy?
— A combination of work and personal life satisfaction, when everything is fine both in the office and at home. In general, very simple things make me happy. Watching an interesting movie, enjoying delicious and beautiful food — all this feels good and makes me a little happier.
— What motivates you to stay at Innovecs?
— Innovecs is synonymous with growth and development. I am already working in the third position in this company. It’s cool that people without experience can try themselves in new roles, learn by doing and grow professionally. Courses and workshops are constantly held here, and this remains far from universal. A Promotion Plan is developed for each employee for six months, which lists the knowledge and skills you need to gain within this period. The bottom line is that I feel support from Innovecs, and it is invaluable for me.