Pavlo is one of the key figures who played a crucial role in establishing our Cherkasy office and has dedicated more than ten years to his career at Avenga. Find out more in our article!
The art of project management: career story of PMO Director Lesya Kleputs
There are not too many women occupying leadership positions, and the remarkable career story of Lesya Kleputs, the Project Management Office Director at Avenga, serves as a testament to what is possible.
Lesya shares about the importance of perseverance, communication skills, and continuous professional development. Explore the dynamic nature of projects, the significance of language proficiency, and the rewarding experiences of building relationships with both clients and teams. Read on to dive deeper into her inspiring story and unlock the keys to success in the project management field.
First of all, tell me, is it difficult for you to work in such a position?
You know, I’ve been with Avenga for almost 9 years. My journey began as a Technical Writer, and over time, I’ve grown to my current role – Project Management Office Director. There were many different moments along the way: moments of success and moments of some not-that-pleasant occasions. I remember my late stays in the office till 2 am during some hard releases. These were also the moments when I said yes to the challenges I was exposed to.
As a woman in a management role, do you think gender stereotypes are disappearing in IT, or do they still exist?
I will answer from the context of my work. I can’t say that in this environment, especially in Avenga, I can point the finger at any difficulties, disdain, or underestimation. Maybe I just don’t want to notice them. Maybe I’m just heading for a breakthrough and don’t see any obstacles that might prevent me from achieving my goals. We just have such an atmosphere in which your professionalism is most valued.
32% of Avenga professionals are women. We have had this indicator for a long time now, and it’s a point we are proud of and continuously develop. We are free of bias and welcome anyone to join our team, regardless of gender. Your expertise is important here.
What is Project Management in an IT company?
Project Management in IT doesn’t differ much from other spheres in terms of responsibilities: you still have to plan, execute and deliver the final result. In short, lead the project from initiation to completion overseeing it through different stages of its lifecycle.
Additionally, knowledge of the industry, field, and products is required. To sum up, it should be a blend of technical expertise, organizational abilities, and, most importantly, strong interpersonal and leadership skills. After all, to a large extent, a Project Manager is a psychologist, a mediator, and a negotiator.
Tell me, please, how did you start a career in Project Management?
Before Project Management in IT, I worked in the construction industry. So, I knew what it’s like to fix bugs in production or after release but in another area.
When I entered the IT field, the position of a Project Manager wasn’t that mature in our company. I started as a Technical Writer and shortly (in a month or so) shifted to coordinating project processes. It was fairly light project support, some client meetings, working with documentation, and also some simple people management.
Along the way, I dived deeper into my profession, I studied the field. Google was my faithful assistant in decoding mind-boggling abbreviations during every meeting. After that, there was always an evening of googling, reading articles, and watching videos. It required time and effort to gain a comprehensive understanding.
Dive into the brief interview with Lesya!
Listen to Lesya's career story of almost nine years at Avenga. She shares her inspiring speech on growth, resilience, and achievement within the company. Get a quick pool of determination, passion, and motivation to succeed in the project management area.
What soft and hard skills should a person possess to enter this IT profession?
I would say that Project Management is primarily about soft skills but not only about them.
It starts with how you communicate with people, what relationships you build with others and in the teams, how you motivate others, and how you keep yourself motivated. You need to be updated. You need to be knowledgeable. And you must remain professional at all times.
It may seem simple but don’t hurry up. Like in each profession, you must know your job – know the field, know the peculiarities of the development life cycle, understand all processes, master different managerial techniques, and know tools to bring a valuable result to the table – a product or a service.
And at the end of the day, it’s all about decision-making and taking responsibility.
As a PMO Director, what criteria do you use to select people for your team?
Of course, it depends on the level of the person we are considering for our team – the assessment is complex. But, first of all, we assess a person’s decision-making skills. Quite often, we present candidates with just a few cases: if you faced a particular situation, what decision would you make in that situation? And to tell the truth, we always select real-life scenarios and work cases. And this is the first thing we look at.
Is it possible to learn to be a PM, or is it necessary to have some innate soft skills?
Some people believe that it can be learned. Some people believe that such a person must be born. I think the truth is somewhere in the middle. It is a daily job with a lot of people, so you need to have a lot of self-discipline. As I’ve already said, it is about difficult conversations, it is about dealing with conflicts, it is about mediation.
Therefore, soft skills are very important here. Everything else related to the profession can be learned. But as for personal qualities, they are more difficult to develop. However, they can also be learned, worked on, and improved. Emotional intelligence is something that can be developed very well. But it is always a combination of personal qualities, perseverance, and professional development.
You know many languages. Tell me, is it related to your professional activity? Or is it just your hobby, a desire for development?
I love to travel. It’s not just about leisure, I enjoy communicating with people while exploring new countries. And, of course, in small towns, English isn’t always widely spoken. But this is not the only reason. I just love learning languages. However, I can’t say that I am fluent in many languages. But I am constantly learning them. Currently, I am studying Italian, German, and a bit of French in addition to English.
It is interesting! Is it important to have a certain level of English to enter the profession?
Language is the key tool for PM specialists. But, again, it’s all about people – either clients or team members. You have to be able to talk to them. Therefore, the level of proficiency in the primary language used in a professional environment is of great importance. It determines how well you are understood, heard, and received. That is, it is not only about knowing words and being able to use them correctly. It’s about intonation, and it’s about diplomacy.
What is more difficult for you in your work: negotiating with clients or managing a team?
Actually, I enjoy building relationships, both with my team members and with clients. That’s the reason why I love my job. Probably, it’s all about trust in the quality of work, transparency of our communication and processes, and how open cooperation is in our company. I know many of our clients who came back to us because of how we handled the previous project: how we planned, communicated, monitored, and reported throughout the process. That is why relationships with the team and clients are vital.
Our traditional and favorite question: Why Avenga?
Avenga is a competitive advantage in gaining success. I changed my field and profession very radically when I came here. This is a company that has really believed in my abilities. I believed in myself and my capabilities, in the fact that it is possible to acquire a new profession and quickly develop in it. And one more thing, not less important for me, Avenga is all about people, very mature people. I like professionalism. I like this environment. I like communication. I like the support of the Avenga team.
Each project is unique, as is each team. It is a continuous learning experience from all angles. Lesya, thank you for your professionalism. Thank you for never stopping and always striving for development.
Join our incredible team of PMs, and you’ll have the chance to work with talented specialists, share and gain competitive knowledge, and for sure you can find like-minded people.
It’s always interesting to manage an interview with a journalist, even if it’s a former one. At Avenga we have specialists with unique career stories and outstanding life experiences.
Whether you’re interested in Java engineering or simply looking for motivation to make a career change, this interview is a must-read for everyone.