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 are chatting with Zsófia Kothencz, Senior UX Researcher who tells us about her job, her daily challenges, and what it is like to be a woman working in tech.
Can you share a little bit about yourself?
I started working as a software intern when I was still doing my Master's as an Infobionics student. I immediately fell in love with the tech industry and decided to learn and grow as a software engineer. After two years, I started to get really curious about the users who were using the product I was developing. That was the time I learned that there is a role completely dedicated to this — studying user behavior and understanding their motives and pain points. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to change my role at the same company to UX Researcher and I started to learn this profession from the basics. Ever since then I've been working as a UX Researcher and I do think it is a great fit for me, I really enjoy it.
I like to try out new hobbies like dancing, sewing, and skateboarding, and I also tend to play video games with my friends (and — of course — meet them when it's possible).
Did you always know that working in technology was what you wanted to do? How did you decide to go into engineering/tech?
I had quite a dilemma at the age of 16 when I had to decide whether I should choose a tech career or become a writer/actress/psychologist. As you can guess, I chose the former and I've never regretted it. My way of thinking was that I can always write or act besides my job in the tech industry and that is completely true. I started writing articles recently and I have to practice psychology as a UX Researcher. I also love the tech part, so I think it all worked out and that’s the reason why UX research fits me, it is an interdisciplinary role.
What is it like to be a woman working in technology for you?
When I started at the university on the faculty of Molecular Bionics, women were a minority. When I started as a software intern I was the only woman in the software team and almost the only one on the floor. I always dreamed of having another woman coder around, and that only happened a year later. I felt lonely, but my male teammates were really helpful. I was afraid of being treated as a beginner or with less respect — because I was a rookie and a young woman — but that never happened, even though they had 10+ years of experience.
I think working in tech as a woman can be challenging sometimes, especially when you are in a room full of male colleagues only and you are the youngest, and you have to speak up. But step by step I learned that I shouldn’t be afraid and I found my confidence. As time went by, the teams I worked with became more diverse and I see this trend rising year by year.
Zsófi's article about product decisions on UXDesign.cc's blog
Do you notice a lack of women in technology? If so, why do you think that’s the case?
In the engineering and leadership roles, I have experienced the lack of women.
In engineering roles, I think the reason is definitely not the lack of talent or capabilities. It is just as much for women as it is for men. I’ve seen a pattern that women who started software engineering gave it up and pivoted to another role like myself. Why does this happen? I don’t know, I can only speak for myself, I was missing using more soft skills and more interdisciplinary tasks.
As far as the leadership roles, I think we just need time for this to change. Historically, more men started working in tech, therefore they are the majority in leadership roles now.
What’s your role at Bitrise? What do you do on a typical day?
I’m a Senior UX Researcher and the reason I love it is because I can do many different things in a week, there is no “typical day”.
A UX Researcher is responsible for knowing and understanding the users and communicating this knowledge firstly to the product team and secondly to the entire company. I can have very different days — some days I’m writing a research plan and selecting from hundreds of different methodologies to apply, on other days I’m interviewing users or analyzing the results of a big survey.
Why did you choose to work at Bitrise, how did it turn out?
I have already tried the multinational environment that I liked, but I wanted to have an experience at a cool startup as well. Company culture was one of my highest priorities when I was looking for a new job, and Bitrise completely fulfilled my expectations. I was also looking for the opportunity of broadening my UX Research domain knowledge and Bitrise was a perfect candidate where I could practice many different methodologies, both qualitative and quantitative.
What learning/growth opportunities have impacted you most?
For one I can mention broadening my quantitative research knowledge, as previously I didn’t have a chance to operate with hundreds of survey responses or collaborate with a data team.
We are also encouraged to learn and grow professionally, so lately I had the chance to write my first article, start online courses and teach external UX courses. These were all important milestones in my career.
What do you think is the best part of being a woman in the tech industry?
The tech industry is really innovative and full of challenges. My experience is that companies in tech are organized, using really good project- and product management frameworks and building the company culture with care. Also, I think Women in Tech is a really supportive, cohesive community that helps you if you face any obstacles.
What advice would you give to a woman considering a career in the tech industry? What do you wish you had known?
I wish I knew how diverse the tech industry was in terms of different roles and career paths. I thought it is mainly software engineering, so you can only start as a coder. But there are many other roles that are so interesting (UX Researcher, UX Designer, project management, product management, data science, marketing, etc.). It is full of opportunities that no one should be afraid to give a try. As I mentioned, it is just as much for women as men.
Thanks so much to Zsófi for a great interview and a look into her life as a Senior UX Researcher at Bitrise. Want to work with Zsófi? Check out our current job openings.
Written by Agi Czutor
“As the Employer Brand Strategist at Bitrise, my job is to ask good questions, transfer the beliefs of our people, and foster advocacy. My aim is to create an alliance that enables us to provide a platform for an unshakable internal community. At Bitrise, we believe in creating an environment where people can have impact and purpose to shine the best of their talent every day.”