29 July, 2019
People of Scale: Tushka Dermendhzieva on Adaptivity & Inspiration

There are always external things to motivate you and that’s not a bad thing. But it’s much better to have internal motivation since it is more permanent. Everything external can motivate you only for a limited time because everything always changes.”

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Tushka and I am a Java Technical Lead at ScaleFocus. I’ve been working here close to four years now. What I like most is the huge diversity of projects and the fact that I’m always meeting new and interesting people.

Мy role, like my work, is pretty diverse. Depending on the project I can wear the hat of a Tech Lead, Developer or QA.

When you are in the Теch Lead role what part of your character helps you motivate people and make them trust you?

I think one of the most important parts is the fact that I always let people think for themselves and never try to impose my own opinion on them right away. I try to show them that I have my own weaknesses. I think that gives them the confidence to give their opinions freely, discuss and get to the final solution by collaborating as a team.

Depending on the risk, I prefer to give my team a chance to make mistakes and even sometimes deliberately let them mess something up so that they can learn how to do it right next time. That is my main goal – to teach them to be more independent and to try to fix the issues on their own. And of course, I’m always there to lend them a hand if needed.

What has helped you along the way of your career to get to where you are now?

My inner motivation. There have been external motivators, for sure, but I think my inner motivation is what makes me wake up, come to work and be enthusiastic about things.

How do you overcome situations where you feel fear?

I try to always base my actions and reactions on my experience especially when I have to make a decision that would affect a lot of people or when I feel something could go wrong. But if I have the chance to consult with one or more people, I take it. Nevertheless, I try to make the final decisions alone, because I’m the one that should have the most context, and the context in general, especially in complex situations, is something difficult to relay in full when asking for advice.

Do you have an experience that you would say has taught you a lot about yourself?

I can’t say there is one experience or one project – each one has taught me a lot about myself. The latest experience was Java ScaleCamp. I had the opportunity to test different approaches in a low-risk simulated environment (vs. in a real customer project). Later that helped me a lot in my day to day work on a current project where I am in the role of Team Lead.

So, you like being a mentor?

Yes, very much and that was one of the reasons I helped organize and actively participated in the initiative. Before ScaleCamp I’ve been a lector on a smaller scale, but here it was much bigger. I’m really grateful to the HR team and the people in the Java department for their support and trust. I had the freedom to work on this the way I felt it should happen. And I would do something similar again in the future.

What inspired me most were the people who took part in Java ScaleCamp. They entered with uncertainty on the first day – and now everyone is working on real projects. And when we pass each other in the halls we talk about how ScaleCamp has helped them in their work right now. Many of the participants were timid in the beginning and now they are really motivated. They overcame their fears. I think the fact that I deliberately put them in situations where they had to learn things about themselves, transform, overcome and make decisions helped them get on the other side of fear.

What quality would you say is most important in people who want to progress in your line of work?

I would say for sure that they should NOT be egocentric. And as qualities go I would say it with one word: adaptive. They have to adapt easily to people, environment, projects. They have to be tolerant, but with balance.

Truth is, there is no set formula. Everything depends on the team and the people in it – and the approach is always different. So adaptivity is key.

And you need to adjust because everything is changeable. Communication is really important and has to be adaptive as well. Some people have difficulty accepting change and others welcome it. And so the approach to people has to vary.

What problems do you solve in your work daily?

Mostly technical problems that I solve together with my team. I also check with the people that I lead if they have issues with what they’re working on at the moment and I am always available to give advice and help. Sometimes I need to resolve non-technical problems as well – for example, communication issues and situations where people don’t get along for some reason, etc.

Tell us about yourself outside of work.

I’m from the Goce Delchev region, I graduated from the Mathematics High School in Blagoevgrad, I also studied Informatics there; later I graduated from Sofia University. I’ve been living apart from my parents since I was 14 – in a school dormitory – and that helped me a lot to be more independent and organized and in general stronger as a person.

I love traveling abroad, meeting new people and learning about other cultures. That has helped me a great deal with my communication skills. My favorite destination at the moment is Asia – I’ve been to some places there and I plan on going back. After that I’m thinking South America – I’d love to travel there and I even took some Spanish classes so that I can communicate better with locals.

As for hobbies – I like training in fitness, which helps me unplug from work and stress. I love cooking for the same reason. When I travel I try and go to cooking classes and learn how to prepare interesting local dishes. Cooking is really one of my favorite things. Lately, I’ve been listening to audiobooks while I do it.

Which foreign culture do you like most?

I think Japanese culture is really fascinating but I’ve been there just once for a little while and I would love to go again to get to know it better. I’d love to meet more local people there and communicate with them.

You seem like a really confident person. What do you do when you lose confidence or have doubts in a situation?

That happens to me often, actually. What I do is simply try to find the best solution by testing different approaches. And I also speak to people and listen to different opinions. Sometimes the solution or the idea for the solution can come from an unlikely source.

Is there a person you have learned a lot from?

Nobody in particular and everyone at the same time. I’m always trying to learn from people around me and it doesn’t matter if they are in a higher or lower position. I’ve learned a lot from people who are less experienced than me. And I’ve learned a lot about myself as a person and a mentor because of the people I’ve taught. I’m inspired by different qualities in many different people.

What advice would you give to someone who is now starting on your path? And do you think it’s a harder path for women?

To always give the maximum effort in what they do. That’s how you grow.

If you want something to change – just know that change does not necessarily have to come from outside. And, of course, consistency is key – together with motivation.

There are always external things to motivate you and that’s not a bad thing. But it’s much better to have internal motivation because it is more permanent. Everything external can motivate you only for limited time because everything always changes.

As for the other question, I don’t think it’s harder for women in the field. I’ve never experienced different attitudes in the companies I’ve worked in because of the fact that I’m a woman. Everyone is important for their ideas and abilities no matter what gender they are.

Why would you recommend ScaleFocus as a place to work and grow?

If someone is looking for a dynamic work environment, this is the place. And that is one of the things I like most about ScaleFocus. Another thing is the fact that if you always give maximum effort in what you do people always notice it – even if sometimes you are not sure they do.

 People of Scale is a monthly rubric in which we show the inspiring humans behind the IT curtain at ScaleFocus. If you want to walk among them – and work with them – check out our current openings here.