Rutech co-founder Anna Sholina talks about what it's like to be a woman in IT

Anna Sholina, co-founder of the Rutech global technology community, which brings together 35 countries, experts from 35 countries and 48 regions of Russia, will speak at the webinar “Women in IT. How to succeed girls in the world of technology? within the international forum Digital Bridge. Rutech has a large number of partners among ecosystems, funds and startups. The goal of the community is to help Russian-speaking founders from the post-Soviet space enter the global market. We talked with Anna about what pitfalls await on the way to launching a startup abroad and what it's like to be a woman in IT.

- What is the most difficult thing in the process of promoting a company to the international market?

- The first is the lack of knowledge of the English language. The second is that people most often plan to enter the market of another country, not knowing its features, what their USP is, and that it may be necessary to remake the product for a different market, but with the same resources.

- One of the brightest showcases of your community is the EMERGE conference, which was organized in Minsk. What do you need to be prepared for when organizing such big conferences as EMERGE?

- In recent years, due to the pandemic - to the fact that it will be canceled! However, it is always important to deliver value to startups, investors, corporations, partners and sponsors of the ecosystem in any case and by any means, even if everything is canceled offline and the electricity is turned off. The most important thing is to keep the focus, that is, the value for each group. Accordingly, be prepared for the fact that most likely 10% of the speakers will change at the end, because someone gets sick.

You should always be prepared that most likely something will go wrong, but you need to be more calm about this. In general, most often you need to prepare for success, to guarantee yourself a cool result. This means designing meetings between investors and startups very clearly so that sponsors put together a cool funnel.

You also need to think over the post-support after the conferences of all these meetings, to full-ups. You need to prepare so that there is cool content and after all the sessions you need to collect insiders. You need to prepare for the fact that you will be told "thank you" many times and for the fact that your fame will go a little further than you.

- How can young "IT people" prove their ambitions in this industry?

- In my opinion, you do not need to prove anything to anyone, you just need to do, work. You need to clearly know: what you want, who you want to be, who you are. And to invest efforts in order to become exactly this person, this particular specialist.

A specialist, a professional person, in my opinion, has no gender. There is just the quality of his work. Of course, we are still girls and boys, our nature and society are arranged differently. For example, in Russia, until the 1920s, a woman was assigned to a man and did not have the opportunity to find a job. I did not have the opportunity to vote, go to work, express myself, study, receive any rights.

It seems to me that now there is no acute gender problem in the IT world. We are in the agency SOLYANKA (Solyanka) - three girls. We do not dwell on the fact that we are girls and there should be some special attitude towards us. We're just "hardworkers".

Yes, IT people have a special look at girls. I myself studied at the physics department and we were told that "you are a girl, find yourself a husband here and go cook soup", "probably physics is not your destiny, it's okay." But at the same time, the guys who work in IT startups say: "Please, can we have at least a couple of girls in the team?" And this also seems to be such sexism, since talking about girls and boys is always some kind of sexism, but you always have to be a good professional. Of course, it is difficult, because a girl may want to have children, and for this she needs to arrange her life and time in a special way. Long period of time: several months or several years. And it's not that easy.

A girl sometimes needs to break through stereotypes about the fact that we can be more emotional, that we have physical and life limitations somewhere.

And at the same time, I have a special "collection" of female entrepreneurs, and they "sharash" and do the job cooler, bigger and stronger than the guys. In general, they just work, they are good founders.

Probably, now special attention to girls is connected with some accumulated problem in the labor market, that guys mostly occupy leadership positions. But in the post-Soviet space this is not entirely true.

- What else needs to be done?

- Focus on creativity (the work of a programmer is, first of all, creativity). Focus on creative activities, on creating something new, in order to use your “girl life hacks” in negotiations. Plan your time, your life, and put strategic chunks of time into something else in life. And be bold anyway! You don't need to waste energy on fighting, you need to spend energy on creation. This is probably the main thesis that I live by, which helps me achieve what I get.

- How to understand that you are moving in the right direction?

- I will say, probably, metaphorically, but you will understand me. I can say that this is the feeling that you are going where the energy directs you, but in fact this is the activity that lifts your spirits, which you go to with pleasure. When you are happy to change your evening free time for this professional activity. Where you want to know more, where you see yourself in 10 or 50 years.

The most correct test is to imagine your dream and yourself in 10 years, 30 years. What is your job, how is your family, or do you just travel the world, or do you have it all together. Do you have an image 

this future, and you ask yourself the question: "If I do what I am doing now, will I come to this future that I have drawn for myself or not?"

If what you are doing now, from a professional point of view, from a personal point of view, leads you to this bright picture, then you are definitely moving in the right direction. If not, then wrong. If you are bored, sad and painful to do something every day, then all this takes you in a completely different direction from that picture of a bright dream. Stop it, reduce the amount of time in it, devoting more time to something else. It is absolutely cool to change something in the period of time from 25 to 35 years. This is a great time for experimentation, a great time for new projects, a great time for trial and error.

Try, live and do not be afraid, and then everything will be just fine, because you have already figured out how it will be. Therefore, everything will be just like that.

Recall that the Digital Bridge-2021 forum was organized and held by Astana Hub together with the ICRIAP of the Republic of Kazakhstan and Zerde Holding in order to support and develop the startup ecosystem of Kazakhstan.

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