Women in tech: Tips for a successful career change
Yes, it’s 2023. And yes, women’s career choices are still sometimes influenced by societal expectations and gender biases. But that doesn’t mean going after opportunities that bring out your true strengths and passions needs to be difficult.
At least, not with us.
At iTechArt, we welcome women from all backgrounds — working moms, fresh graduates, or someone looking to make a 180-degree turn and embark on a completely different career path. We strongly believe that diverse perspectives and experiences are the lifeblood to innovation and progress.
If you’re considering making a move to the tech industry, but need a shot in the arm — and a sense of what to expect — read on for insights from an accountant-turned-project-manager at iTechArt, Fazilat Allayaraova. Like our delivery manager Stella Root, who recently shared her professional journey with us, Fazilat covers both unexpected forks in the road and the careful planning that went into building her career.
This is part of our “Women in Tech” interview series.
What sparked your interest in IT?
Before venturing into the tech industry, I worked as an accountant, where I routinely used SAP, a major software program for managing business processes and customer relations. I became a true pro and later transitioned into a new role that involved helping other companies integrate similar apps into their operations.
Over the next few years, I dedicated myself to honing my real-world IT skills, which eventually allowed me to secure a BA/PM position at iTechArt.
Yes, my (quite challenging) journey into IT took almost six years — but was it worth it? Absolutely.
So your degree has nothing to do with IT?
I majored in economics and was fortunate enough to receive a grant to study in English at Westminster International University in Tashkent. This experience not only gave my career a huge boost, but also equipped me with the knowledge necessary to excel in my subsequent academic pursuits, including obtaining a master's degree in finance and banking at the Unicredit Group in Italy.
Tell me more about your work experience before entering the tech industry.
I started as a project manager at a monetary fund. But my first international assignment uncovered the hidden complexities of my role and the importance of using specialized tactics to optimize tasks. Since agile was a relatively new concept back then, I had to put in extra effort to develop my own work methodology.
During my master's studies, I was lucky to work alongside top-tier management at a leading Italian bank. Though I gained a priceless theoretical background, my time there was a massive wake-up call that I desperately needed more practical skills to be competitive in the job market.
Upon completing my studies, I returned to Uzbekistan and landed a job as a regular accountant at a factory. I know, I know — risky. But starting from the bottom has paid off, as soon I moved up to integrating the factory's accounting system with other internal systems. My responsibilities also included establishing connections with clients and documenting their business needs.
How did you learn about iTechArt?
Once I learned from my friends that iTechArt was expanding in Uzbekistan, I did some quick research and instantly knew that a renowned international company would be an ideal place for me to further enhance my skills. I saw the opening of the company’s first office in Tashkent in late 2021 as a prime opportunity to make a career switch.
I must confess, though: I initially hesitated to submit my CV to iTechArt. But with the completion of a project I had worked on for over five years in my previous job, it was my now-or-never moment to take action.
From the very first interview, iTechArt felt like the perfect match for me. After just three months, I received glowing feedback from my manager, which only confirmed my initial impression.
What's the most memorable project you've ever worked on at iTechArt?
One of my favorite projects was the recent Crypto Challenge — a collaborative competition that tasked teams from our delivery hubs in Poland, Uzbekistan, and Belarus to create a token for a corporate recognition platform. As a business analyst passionate about blockchain and cryptocurrencies, I knew this was an excellent opportunity to leverage my knowledge of the field.
My collaboration with a project manager, designer, and a team of developers resulted in several educational platforms that could be seamlessly integrated into other internal systems. All from scratch, with no prior production experience, and within just three months.
The ultimate value? Our solution encouraged iTechArt engineers to level up their tech expertise, which improved the competitiveness of the company’s blockchain services. That’s a huge win, as the crypto winter hasn’t really iced venture and startup interest in blockchain as a technology — meaning we can expect an increase in new projects.
What was your biggest challenge during the career transition?
The unfamiliar terminologies and technologies were puzzling to me at first, but as I progressed, it became easier to put pieces together and master the concepts quickly. Eventually, my main driving force shifted from a fear of failure to a strong desire to acquire new knowledge and belief that I could do it.
What advice would you give to other women considering a career change to IT?
If you’re curious and hungry for new challenges, rest assured that confidence will come with experience. Stay open to growth and opportunity, and always take proactive action to find better ways to achieve your goals.
Not a code or hardware geek? Consider design, business analysis, or management if your forte is creativity, critical thinking, and an eye for detail. And let’s not forget that this journey has its perks, including the ability to establish a strong network, work remotely, and have complete ownership of your work.
Have you ever experienced impostor syndrome?
Trust me: No career changer is immune to impostor syndrome. No matter how much you've achieved, there’s always this background feeling that you don’t belong or aren’t good enough.
The most clichéd — and arguably most harmful — advice here would be to “fake it until you make it.” That kind of lack of authenticity can damage your self-esteem, limit your chances for career growth, or sabotage your long-term success. (We all remember the drama around Elizabeth Holmes’ Theranos, right?) To avoid worst-case scenarios, focus on building genuine skills and always take time to self-reflect and identify areas you can improve on.
Hit a setback? Take it as a lesson, alter your course accordingly, and move on. Challenge yourself to explore new ways of thinking and experiment with different strategies and tactics to find the best way to achieve a desired goal.
And finally, it never hurts to seek help from more experienced colleagues or higher-ups: They’ve likely been there before and can offer a tip or two on how to approach your particular situation.