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Women of Infostrux | Nataliya

From Ukraine to Canada: a woman's journey in tech from academia to data architecture, embracing AI's potential and advocating for women in the industry.


Let's start from the top! Tell us a bit about your background.

My family and I moved to Canada from Ukraine in 2000. I studied Applied Mathematics and Computer Science back home and continued my studies here, focusing on Graph Theory, Combinatorics and Discrete Mathematics in my later university years. My dream was to end up teaching at a post-secondary institution and undertaking research, but life offered other opportunities that led me into a Data Architect career instead.


Why Data? What brought you to this industry?

There is so much data everywhere. In the IT industry, the complexity of gathering data, keeping it flowing from source to its final destination and finally to consumption requires a lot of specialized knowledge, attention and care. Understanding data, organizing data, classifying data, taking care of data quality, defining processes for gaining insights from data, and presenting data in easy-to-understand meaningful numbers and visualizations - is equivalent to bringing order to chaos - and it’s beautiful. My educational background, my ability to persevere, my attention to detail and my desire to strive for perfection served me well with data. Once I immersed myself into the ins and outs of the world of data and technical implementations related to it, I immediately appreciated the intricacies, fell in love with complexities and never looked back.


What trends do you find most interesting in current and potential future data applications? 

Topics of Machine Learning and AI are at the top of mind now in the IT industry. I’m fascinated by the subject, and it’s hard to stay indifferent to its impact on our lives. The potential of AI and ML applications is undeniable, but I also can imagine scenarios of how quickly the benefits we gain from it can turn into chaos. I find any topics related to governing data for better models and more accurate results or keeping data secure while taking advantage of ML/AI algorithms worthy of my attention.


What is most exciting about the work you do right now? What does work-life look like for you?

Consulting and helping find solutions to existing problems in the industry is the most exciting component of my daily work. The variety of posed problems, a chance to uncover the most optimal solution, and the best fitting tools given the time constraints, budget, and organizational standards bring uniqueness to everyday tasks. The “never-stop-learning” aspect of being in the IT industry feeds my curiosity and desire to improve. But it's also the amazing people that you meet through these professional experiences that make a difference in your overall life.


You are a senior female professional in a male-dominated industry. What does that mean in your day-to-day work? What is most challenging and most rewarding about it?

It is definitely a challenge to balance family responsibilities with work on a day-to-day basis, and takes a lot of self-discipline and hard work. But it helps when you consider that I am passionate about what I do, and “looking for solutions” is like solving a puzzle - one piece at a time. At the end of the project, it is rewarding and exciting to see that your contributions are helping solve real-life industry problems.


As a woman and an immigrant to Canada, you must have faced multiple obstacles in your journey. What were the biggest lessons you took from these personal experiences that helped you get to where you are today in your career?

Be strong, but be kind. Work hard. Learn, don't be afraid to ask questions. Be accepting, but have standards, too - you will find your balance. Be open-minded, and don't miss out on chances that present themselves to you throughout your career. Not all doors will open amazing professional opportunities to grow and make you feel fulfilled, but some might pleasantly surprise you.



Outside of work, what are your passions, hobbies and interests?

Outside of work, I have this whole artistic side of my personality that I enjoy exploring. I love colours, breathtaking views and one-of-a-kind beautiful things. Whether it's cooking or decorating, drawing or sewing, knitting or painting-by-number - I tried them all, and I love every single one of them!  Of course, as I like to “bring order into chaos,” it comes as no surprise that Lego sets are my favourite pastime as well.



What is something interesting, curious, or unique about you that others may not know?

Did I mention I like learning? When I came to Canada, apart from improving my English, I took on the challenge of learning French. I’m proud to say those George Simenon’s Inspector Maigret novels on my bookshelf were not wasted.


What piece of advice would you offer to women who are also looking to grow and leave their mark in the tech industry?

Be confident you can do it. Push yourself. Be brave and dare to push the envelope. Never stop learning. Inspire and be inspired. I have been fortunate to work alongside exceptional leaders in my career, and I’m very grateful for their mentorship and support. There are so many ways to make an impact in this industry, so find your own “North Star” in your professional journey!