Jeni Kyuchukova, Director of Quality and Process at MentorMate, likes to try new things and look for new experiences. According to Jeni, inequality exists in many areas, but sometimes it’s up to women not to put themselves in a position of inequality.

Let’s say hello to Jeni Kyuchukova, Director of Quality and Process at MentorMate, who loves trying new things and looking for new adventures. During her professional years, Jeni has been in different job positions, such as QA, QA Lead, Project Team Lead, and QA Practice Manager. She has always been moving forward, proving her expertise in these roles while being dedicated and loyal to the company she has worked for. Jeni believes that a person looks charming when they smile, have a positive approach to the situation and the conversation, and use a sense of humour. She adds that this, for sure, would give us a great start, but it is just a small part of the qualities that help us be successful in a professional way. To her, the must-have qualities of an IT professional are the ability to be an active listener, not postpone the work, and avoid the use of expressions such as “I don’t know” or “It can’t happen” at work. Jeni shares that critical thinking is a two-edged sword. She believes that if we get too critical, we might turn into unsatisfied perfectionists. To achieve high-quality and intuitive software for the clients, we need to step into the end-users shoes and try thinking like them. According to her, there is no software without faults, but the most successful software is the one that’s user-friendly and in service to the end-user.

“I think that if you want to combine stressful work with your personal life, you should be flexible and adaptive to situations.’

Favourite clothes?

Recently, pyjamas with dots.

High heels or flat shoes?

Flat ones.

Which is THE thing you never go out without?

Keys and recently, a hand sanitiser.

Favourite lipstick colour?

Red.

Which is the feminine quality that you don’t possess?

Hoping that my partner would read my thoughts or desires. If I want something, I say it out loud instead of waiting for him to guess it.

Which cause are you currently supporting?

I support the World Food Program.

Can you share something about yourself that we can’t find on LinkedIn?

I get bored easily. I often try new things and seek new adventures. Sometimes, I even enjoy stress as it energizes me instead of burdening me.

Have you ever faced challenges in your career regarding the fact that you are a woman?

It is a challenge for each woman to go on maternity leave and then come back to work. The challenge was even bigger for me because the IT sector is very dynamic. It wasn’t easy, but I managed to catch up quickly.

Do you know how many women work in your position?

I’m not sure, but I know that at MentorMate, 41% of the management team are women.

Do you think that the problem with gender inequality still exists in Bulgaria and globally?

It’s a fact that inequality exists in many spheres. But sometimes, it’s up to the women not to accept and put themselves in an unequal position.

Read More Inspiring Stories for Women in Tech in WRTech here.

Which policies does your company encourage regarding gender diversity?

The company offers the opportunity to work remotely – which isn’t only because of the pandemic – but is flexible and fully remote. This approach already gives results, and now we have colleagues from other parts of Europe and Africa, from different cultures and religions. Apart from encouraging diversity, we’ve also launched a new initiative, which might turn out even more significant. Together with the QA department, we work with disabled people for a special type of testing called “Accessibility Testing.”

Do women’s appearance and charm help you be successful in a professional way?

In my opinion, someone looks charming when they’re smiling, thinking positively of each situation and conversation, and approaching everything with a bit of humour. For sure, this would give you a great start, but it is a small part of the qualities that help you be successful.

“Eventually, if we don’t want to do something, we can always find an alternative to achieve the same result”

How do you get along with men in your company? Do they treat you differently?

I haven’t felt any special attitude. Maybe, when I was pregnant, I got more attention from my colleagues, and during the last months of my pregnancy, they were more polite than ever. Otherwise, I’m just like all other people in the company. I have short-term and long-term goals which I pursue while respecting and adhering to the company’s values.

How do you balance your work with your personal life? Are there any rules that you follow?

Unfortunately, I’ve never managed to follow certain rules, and I don’t have any. It’s exactly the opposite. I think that if you want to combine stressful work with your personal life, you should be flexible and adaptive to situations. For example, I didn’t have time to work out today because I had to be in the office earlier, but I got off the metro 2 stations earlier to walk more. It’s not a proper workout, but it’s still something.

Which sources would you recommend to our audience? (podcasts, webpages, influencers, YouTubers, etc.)

I hope not to sound old school, but I don’t follow any YouTubers or influencers. I learn from the people around me – colleagues, customers, people I know, and friends that are not part of the IT industry. It’s easy to develop a fake personality on the internet. That’s why I recommend live communication with people.

Would you give some practical advice on leadership and management for leading our teams more effectively?

A team is a group of people with common goals. It’s of extreme importance to set clear goals for the team and communicate them individually. Also, we should always try to formulate measurable goals. That’s how we can have a real understanding of how successful people and teams are, which is also indicative of motivation, quality of work, and productivity. If one team member doesn’t cope with their tasks, an immediate reaction is required because it’s highly demotivating to see how some team members work hard while others sit and wait for someone else to do the same work. If there is no reaction or even a belated reaction in such a situation, that would poison the team’s atmosphere and ruin the leader’s reputation.

Can you share with us how to become a Director of Quality and Process? Which are the main features a specialist in the sphere needs to have?

I don’t think I have a recipe for how to become a Director. I can only share my own experience. I’ve been in different positions, such as QA, QA Lead, Project Team Lead, QA Practice Manager. I’ve always been moving forward, proving my expertise in these roles while being dedicated and loyal to the company I worked for. I believe that the must-have qualities for being successful are: the ability to listen actively: when we talk to someone, to understand their position, what they want and need, to show proactivity to do something about the discussed topics, instead of only discussing them. Another important quality is acting right away, not postponing tasks until the next day or week. We should set short deadlines for ourselves and make them public to keep us responsible. It is important that we don’t use expressions such as “I don’t know” or “It can’t happen” at work. Eventually, if we don’t want to do something, we can always find an alternative to achieve the same result.

You shared you’ve never played any games in which you didn’t find any bugs. According to you, is that applicable to real life? Does critical thinking help us improve ourselves?

Critical thinking is a two-edged sword. On the one hand, it helps us find better solutions when we identify a problem. On the other hand, if we get too critical, we might turn into unsatisfied perfectionists and lose the ability to see the bigger picture and the bright side of things.

Can you share some tips and tricks for constantly achieving high-quality and intuitive software for the customers?

We should step into the end-users shoes and try to think like them or imagine ourselves in a situation where the product would be used. For example, MentorMate develops mobile applications for dentists. They use it on an iPad, hung on the wall, and usually operate with it, wearing gloves. Getting such information from the client and considering the specific environment was extremely important to the app’s development. Another important thing is to create the product in a way that we can guide the user on how to use it in the right way and at the same time manage their expectations. We need to make sure that the user knows what and how to set up when they should wait, and inform them in a relevant way that they need to wait. We should prevent them from involuntary mistakes and, if such mistakes occur, they should be fixed easily. Eventually, there is no software without faults, but the most successful software is the one that’s user-friendly and in service to the end-user.

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