Women in tech: How to crack the code of leadership
At iTechArt, gender equality and diversity isn’t just a box to tick and a token phrase on the ‘About us’ page. It's a part of our culture and how our mission infuses our work, every day — including making the work of women in tech core to who we are and what we do.
We strive to attract, retain, and promote female talent to combat the IT industry's long-standing reputation as a male-dominated field. Within our ranks, 32 percent of senior management roles are held by women, which is about double the proportion of women managers across the industry.
In an interview series devoted to International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, we spotlight our outstanding women professionals, whose ideas and innovations shape the future of tech and inspire the next generation of female leaders.
Today, we’re talking to one of our delivery group managers Stella Root, who routinely juggles blockchain, computer science, and project management.
Tell us about your educational background and how you landed a career in tech.
Before university, I spent several years in India, where I studied interior design — but I quickly realized it wasn’t my cup of masala. As I grew more interested in tech-related topics, I dropped out after my first year and enrolled in a hardware course that also involved cybersecurity.
Afterward, my husband and I moved to Thailand, where I pursued a degree in IT at Stamford International University. This private institution offers high-quality tech programs overseen by professors from all corners of the world.
Did you opt for a program in management or software engineering?
My major was computer science and information technology. And yet, my professors encouraged me to take a second major in accounting and finance and helped me complete both programs (and earn an honors degree!) in three years instead of four.
It’s worth noting that I gave birth to my daughter during my studies, but I never took an academic leave or missed any classes. It sounds crazy, but I even did some IT work for consulting firms on weekends. Was it challenging? Yes, but not unachievable.
What was your first job?
Once I finished my undergraduate studies, I wanted to go back to school for a master's degree, but was stumped on what program to choose. Though I initially considered moving to Canada to pursue a master's in IT, I decided to stay and get an MBA from my alma mater. That was a clear win-win, as I was able to combine my passion for business with my tech-savvy.
While doing the MBA, the university offered me a business analyst role, and before too long, I got promoted to department lead. I wasn’t looking for a managerial job — the job found me. But it surely wasn’t a “just like that” thing: I’ve always been interested in how the management process works and how it can be optimized. And I’m good at it.
However, a few years later, I decided to explore new horizons and moved back to Belarus to try project management.
How did you learn about iTechArt?
Once I hit a growth ceiling at my then-company, I decided to proceed with another employer. I had already said “yes” to the offer, but a recruiter from iTechArt talked me into a quick interview.
What was intended to be just a 15-minute conversation has turned into a one-and-a-half-year collaboration (and counting!).
You joined iTechArt as a group manager. Can you share more about your team and its expertise? What’s your priority as a leader?
I’m currently responsible for the professional development of almost forty employees who always aim high and don't limit themselves to one particular tech stack. Their expertise spans fintech, blockchain, backend, and frontend engineering; Python and PHP development; and other advanced technologies.
I strive to be a leader, not a boss. I nurture a culture of continuous learning, providing employees with every opportunity to operate at their best. My core goal is to lead by example and ensure every team member feels empowered and motivated to contribute to the organization's success.
Speaking of fintech, I know you created a corporate blockchain training program. Was it successful?
My group played with blockchain for some time, but we couldn’t take on any commercial projects due to the limited number of engineers with relevant skills. The solution was obvious: to design a peer-to-peer training program focused on getting real-world experience.
And I won’t shy away from saying that our course was, at the time, the best blockchain training program at iTechArt. The proof: Within just four months, we trained 12 developers and created a blockchain application currently used in our department.
Did you participate in any other fintech projects?
As soon as iTechArt leadership announced the launch of the company’s fintech practice last June, I caught up with Andrew Haines, our global head of fintech, and introduced my team.
Andrew invited us to join the company-wide Crypto Challenge, a competition among teams based in our Belarus, Poland, and Uzbekistan delivery hubs. The challenge tasked engineers to mint an iTechArt token for an employee recognition and rewards platform and develop a beginner-level cryptocurrency course.
In October 2022, all teams took part in an internal blockchain conference in Uzbekistan, where we presented the results to the management. It was a great success: We not only elevated our expertise in all things blockchain and Web 3.0, but also worked together to create (drumroll) iTechArt’s proprietary cryptocurrency!
Motivated by the spirit of collaboration rather than competition, we extended our partnership to other initiatives like staffing, developing sales partnerships, and educating engineers — all managed through a central hub for blockchain projects.
What are your long-term career goals?
One thing I know for sure: It’s not only about my success. I’ll be eyeing every opportunity to advance the entire company.
As someone who prioritizes quality over quantity, I’m looking to switch to a more delivery-focused culture within my department, which will ultimately help create better processes across the board. The shift will take a while, yes, but I'm committed to making it happen.
As the good old business adage goes, "what gets measured gets achieved." Do you believe effective success metrics really exist, and how do you define success?
It’s hard to measure success — be it personal or professional — because there are no established benchmarks. And while many choose dollar signs and bottom lines as their top priority, genuine success goes beyond numbers. Money talks, sure, but let’s not overlook how physical and spiritual wellness is also a massive achievement in today’s hectic world.
My ultimate success formula is a mix of work accomplishments, opportunities for self-development, job satisfaction, and the meaningful moments I share with people I care about and who care about me.
I consider myself successful not only because of the progress I’ve achieved over the years — but also because I can carve out time for self-care and things that bring me joy.
So your secret is a healthy work-life balance?
Or, more accurately, work-life fit, as it doesn’t keep work on one side of the scale and life on the other — but weaves them together.
Can’t remember the last time you purposefully slowed down and stopped being “productive?” My only advice is simple: Slow your roll.
Like a chef who takes time to savor flavors, learn how to savor the moment to prevent burnout and continue serving up your best work. Before you fill up your calendar for the week, always plan some “me” time for self-reflection, personal growth, and even a little healthy procrastination.