Behind The Scenes: Women in tech with Linda Czinner

Principal Product Manager at Bitrise tells us about her job, challenges, and what it is like to be a woman working in tech.

At Bitrise, we enable customers to deliver mobile experiences to billions of devices every day. There are fantastic folks here making that possible, and in our Behind the Scenes series, you can get to know them too. ✨

This time we’re talking to Dr. Linda Czinner, Principal Product Manager from Budapest.

Welcome Linda, thank you for joining us today. Let’s start with an easy one: can you share a little bit about yourself?

I have worked in the Tech Industry for more than 10 years now and I tried many roles during my career. I consider myself to be a curious person who loves to learn and listen to people. I studied in several schools so I have insight in a lot of different studies which I really enjoy. I think that’s why I choose Product Management as an occupation after a long journey because that’s something similar in the sense that you have to understand and know about lots of different things: business, user experience, and also engineering.

I am also a mother of two children and try to balance between the love of my family and the enthusiasm towards my job. And my guilty pleasure is buying gadgets and a lot of video games and ending up playing with only a few...

Did you always know that working in technology was what you wanted to do? How did you decide to go into engineering/tech?

No, I started my career as a medical doctor, because there is a generation of pediatricians in my family, so it was just a natural thing to do. But around that time when I started practicing medicine, I fell in love with coding and I could really get in the flow when I was trying to solve a hard problem. So I changed my career path and went to university again where I became a software engineer. I worked a lot in that field, I even tried engineering management but ended up being a product manager after this long journey. I think Product Management is the field where I can make the most out of my skills and create the biggest customer impact.

What is it like to be a woman working in technology for you?

Working as a woman in engineering was very lonely, I have never had another woman in my team, sometimes not even one in the whole company when I worked for smaller startups. This situation only escalated when I became an engineering manager, because, unfortunately, in the management layer it’s even harder to find women. When I started to work in the Product field and I had a Discovery team around me — which ideally has a Product Manager, User Researcher, Designer, and a Data Analyst — that’s when I stopped feeling lonely as a woman. There are many great women working in the Product field and I love working in a more diverse team and ideating together.

Do you notice a lack of women in technology? If so, why do you think that’s the case?

On the engineering side I feel this, but not on the product side. In my opinion, it’s part of the gender stereotypes we experience around ourselves. This starts at an early age, in first grade, even the children themselves think that boys are better at math or coding. And while saying this I am aware that I am not better and also fall into the gender stereotype pitfall. Not so long ago I read a sci-fi book, Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie, where every character is referred to with a female pronoun. It wasn’t very strange for me until that point I realized I imagined every character as a male even though referred to as she… This came to me as a shock and since then I am trying even harder to fight every stereotype, especially gender. And I also discuss these issues with my children from early on. They are 8 and 3-years-old now, but we often face some stereotypes in our daily lives for example on the playground or in a cartoon.

What’s your role at Bitrise? What do you do on a typical day?

I am a Principal Product Manager, which means that I am responsible for the strategic decisions in my product area. In this role, I work less with engineers on the delivery side than I used to. I prioritize the problems in my product area, search for improvement opportunities and create a roadmap out of the findings for my teams on my product segment. I participate in the discovery of these initiatives, concept validation, and measuring the results based on previously set up goals.

Why did you choose to work at Bitrise, how did it turn out?

Before I joined Bitrise I worked at Prezi and after that experience, I was on the hunt for a job where I can find a similar startup environment. I liked working at Prezi, I loved that buzz that you can find in startups, working together with highly motivated colleagues and I found the same environment here at Bitrise.

What challenges do you have the most at work?

Prioritization and with that, saying no to things. I mentored a couple of Product Managers during my career and in my experience, I am not alone in this. The ability to say no is a challenging one to learn, but at the same time, as a Product Manager, it’s very common that you have to say no to some requests or initiatives because you are responsible for your team’s scope of work and their focus. And it’s a very hard job, saying no to your colleagues who also want the best for the customers and for the company. But at the end of the day, you have to be the one who sees the big picture, all of the incoming requests towards your team and have to decide on the most impactful ones to implement.

What learning/growth opportunities have impacted you most?

As a Product Manager, you have to talk and present a lot. That was the most stretching for me because I am an introverted person who doesn’t like to talk much. I had to and still have to grow a lot in this area to be comfortable and excellent in these situations.

What are your future career plans, who supports you?

Working further from the engineering team and the responsibility of thinking about high-level strategic questions are a new development in my career, so I would like to learn in that field and improve in it. I am very grateful that I got support from my manager and that I got this opportunity. When I told him that I am not challenged with my previous work anymore and I would like to step up and get more responsibility, he was very responsive to my request and supportive of my need to learn more.

Who are your role models for women in tech?

I don’t have any famous person in my mind when I think about who inspires me. I am inspired by the women who I am working with. I see their talent, their hard work, and their enthusiasm about their job and our mission. This is what inspires and energizes me every day.

What do you think is the best part of working in the tech industry?

The best part is that it evolves at a very fast pace, you always have new challenges and things to learn and grow. That’s why I think it’s interesting and recommend it to every woman who is thinking about choosing this field.

What advice would you give to a woman considering a career in the tech industry? What do you wish you had known?

Stereotypes shouldn’t cloud your judgment. You can be as good as any other person in the field if you feel that’s the right career for you and you are enthusiastic about it. And maybe you feel lonely sometimes if you are the only woman in your team but you don’t have to worry, even in that situation, I felt the support from a lot of male co-workers inside and outside from my team.

Thanks so much to Linda for a great interview and a look into her life as a principal product manager at Bitrise. Want to work with Linda? Check out our current job openings.

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