Cover Story: Dana, Senior Programme Manager
Cover Stories
30 June 2021
Cover Story: Dana, Senior Programme Manager
Cover Stories
30 June 2021

Here at Opinov8, Opinov8rs represent our culture. Cover Stories portray the richness within all of us, the differences that make us who we are. 

In this edition, we will talk with Dana P., our Senior Programme Manager. She tells us about her career at Opinov8 and how to stay motivated and energized when working long hours.

Get to know Dana a little more through this Cover Story, and don’t miss the opportunity to join us and be part of this gr8 adventure too!

Do you remember your first day at Opinov8? How was it?

My first day at Opinov8 went great! Firstly, my manager was on vacation πŸ˜…, and secondly, I just came to find my workplace and meet the whole team. I didn't understand where to start and what to do, but my team approached me with a bottle of sparkling wine after five minutes πŸ™ƒ. They encouraged me and said that since this is my first day at work β€” it should be celebrated! I was touched, I thought this is my company, and I definitely should work here! 😍

Dana, Senior Programme Manager

Tell us about your background. How has your career developed before Opinov8? 

At the university, I studied international jurisprudence and worked in this area for a long time while I tried to find myself. Later I got into the IT world, I started my path in support. I liked helping people, and I quickly solved their problems, and after some time, I figured out who was to blame for all the problems. The developers were to blame β€” the reason for all my incoming calls and messages! πŸ˜‚

From that moment on, my path to Project Management began. A bit later, I became the support team lead, where we built a whole service desk and did many other important tickets and tasks. Later on, I worked as a Project Manager in another company, and then I became part of a super team at Opinov8.

I was very tempted by the offer of our manager (Viktor Y., Head of Delivery) as he promised to become my mentor! πŸ€“ He gave me many opportunities, which was very important for me at that moment. I had the opportunity to develop, choose a team, build processes, and add those that were not yet in the company, and it was really great.

What has your career path to Programme Manager been like? What did you change along the way to adapt to new roles and projects? 

When I started working in Project Management, I realized β€” this is it, that I had been looking for it all my life, this is my perfect job! From a very young age, I always said that I would certainly be a manager when I grow up. πŸ˜‰

For other roles in IT, you can easily show the result of your work, for example, written code, but Project Managers do not have this. Few people know what is behind our work. It seems that people who are ready to work in such a position can work either in the Emergency Service or in Project Management. πŸ˜… You psychologically have to be ready to burn and be on fire all the time to solve a million problems and various issues. πŸ™ˆ

I do really love working with people, and I like to create and develop something new. In this profession, it seems to be the apogee of my happiness. I feel that my temperament and this job are a perfect match, this profession found me, and I found it. ❀️

And this is true since I have something to compare with, I had a varied experience of work in absolutely different areas. I was a lawyer, translator, and teacher. I worked in medical tourism, art gallery, and even worked with the Kyiv City State Administration! 😱

So yes, I searched for myself for a long time, but it was all worth it! All this experience helps me now in my work. From any of these professions, I have learned something most valuable and significant for myself.

Dover Castle, Dover, Kent, England

What does your typical workday look like at Opinov8?

I cannot say that I am a morning person, but I love various morning rituals to welcome a new day with a smile. In fact, I am more of an evening person, but I start work in the morning since I have a rather tight schedule of meetings with the team and clients. I feel more productive in the evening when the workday is over, and I can have some dinner and continue working again, without haste in a calm and peaceful time.

My working day begins with checking my mail, calendar, and Slack to understand what is happening and where I am needed right now.

The main part of the day is endless meetings. Some of them I could delegate, but as an example, I still run interviews with new candidates. I try to be present at all meetings since I need to understand who can join our team to keep our positive and awesome vibe. πŸ™Œ

I also regularly hold One-on-One meetings with 70 people. πŸ™ˆ And of course, we have Think up meetings to discuss pressing issues and find out how everyone is doing to keep up-to-date communication. In the late afternoon, I devote time to my manual tasks, answering emails, filling out various documents, and conducting strategic sessions with our Business Analysts to make sure we are moving in the right direction.

Could you describe your role at Opinov8?

It is very important for me to be a part of such a great team and a big family. The values of the company are very close to me, and this is significant for me. There were different situations during all three years of work in the company, but I always felt them. πŸ’™

I really enjoyed winning this year's β€œThe Growth Driver Award” (the annual presentation of awards for contributions to the success of their team and the company overall). This award is well deserved since, in two and a half years, my team has grown from 8 people to 70, so I am very proud of it!

What is the most important thing a Project Manager should do?

He has to make everyone happy. πŸ˜‰ The manager usually controls: scope of work, deadline, and budget. Of course, these are important things, but I have the main other 3 main aspects:

  1. Client. It is important that the client is satisfied and has positive feedback from your work, then other issues won’t matter as much.
  2. Team. Without the team, the Project Manager is absolutely useless, so the most important thing is to make sure that the team is happy and people have everything they need for their work.
  3. Owners. Of course, when the client and the team are happy, the business is striving, and you get the freedom to create.

To achieve all this, the Project Manager must always keep track of these 3 important points and remember that he must bring his own value, specifically:

  • Work hard, at least 100%, but better 120%, because the manager always leads. 
  • Plan ahead, the more you have prepared in advance, the less you will deal with problems later.
  • Have a positive attitude, because if the manager cries, everyone will cry. You need to keep positive energy all the time, which energizes others and convinces everyone that everything is in order and everything is being done well.
The Colosseum, Rome, Italy

What is your leadership style? How would you describe yourself?

I can definitely call myself a control freak who will feel calm and confident if he does everything himself. I had to do a lot of work on myself to learn how to delegate. πŸ€“

When I had 30 people on my team, it was still bearable, but having 70 people is not easy. It was difficult for me to delegate some of the tasks that I have always done myself. πŸ€ͺ

I am an adamant enough manager. I demand, in fact, from everyone no less than from myself. I have always assumed all responsibility, and they already have a responsibility to me. The team can hear displeasure from me, but only from me. Therefore, they jokingly call me the Mama bear. πŸ˜„

What do you consider to be the balance between your work and personal life, especially when working remotely?

Before the quarantine and during the full lockdown, there was no work-life balance for me. I worked 12-14 hours a day, but I realized that my body could not cope with such a load after a while. πŸ™„

I understand that the only salvation for me not to think about work is to do something physically active. So I decided to go in for sports and other activities to switch a little from workflows. I began doing EMS training  (Electro Muscle Stimulation). It works by sending low-frequency electric impulses to contract your muscles while you’re working out. It is a new way to work out without spending hours in the gym, just 30-minute sessions. And now I want to add some Pilates classes. πŸ’ͺ

One more part of my routine life β€” massages. I regularly go to massages, as a sedentary lifestyle makes itself felt. Beyond the benefits of massage, I enjoy it because it produces feelings of caring for myself and relaxation. 😌

Also, I started hiking for myself, which was an absolute discovery for me since I am a person who loves comfort, but this is the only thing that can switch me so much. I like to travel to the Carpathians mountains. Nature makes you pay attention to yourself, enjoy the views around and not think about anything else. πŸ₯°

And of course, traveling, now I can't imagine my life without it. Even quarantine does not stop me. Remote work allows me to be anywhere in the world and, at the same time, stay in touch and do my job. During the weekdays, I work as usual, but on the weekend, I can enjoy a different experience and everything new around me. 😎

Given the quarantine restrictions over the past six months, I have lived for some time in Mexico, Turkey, and now I often travel to London.

Altos de ChavΓ³n, La Romana, Dominican Republic

Do you have any tips for staying motivated? How do you deal when you are overwhelmed or underperforming?

I am very motivated by my work when I see what has been done and the result of my work. In the same way, I motivate my team. We always thank each other and praise each other for the work done. It seems to me that this motivates you to work every morning when you have a great team nearby, which will always prompt and help, and you, in turn, too. In such a friendly atmosphere, I want to work and live.

Motivation is always about us. It is always inside, you either have it or you don't.Β 

All the same, it is crucial to rest and go on vacation. I did not understand this before. Taking breaks is very important to manage everything to have some time for other things besides work, otherwise, you will burn out.

What is the greatest advice you have been given?

One good piece of advice related to the work I once received from Viktor Y., Head of Delivery. He said that the client is the kindest and fluffiest only at the beginning of the work, so at this point, everything needs to be done, everything must be prepared, and everything must be signed, because then it will be too late. This is the most sincere and most important word of advice I have ever received. I see confirmation of these words every time.

I was also influenced by a case when I worked in support. I didn’t know many things then, and after a while, I got to know the Project Manager of those grief developers. πŸ˜… Instead of telling me not to meddle in her business, she taught me how to do everything right. I am very grateful to this day, as the wisdom is you need to listen because it is very likely that there is something that you do not see.

If you could say one thing to someone who is just starting their careers as PM and wants to join Opinov8, what would you say?

You definitely need to train your patience. You need to be prepared because you will be responsible for everything since you cannot shift the responsibility to someone else. If something goes wrong, the PM will always be at fault.

I highly recommend PM to come to Opinov8, as we have a gr8 atmosphere and vibe, amazing community, and cool processes. We always have something to teach you, no matter how much you know. And, of course, we have the best C-level management, who will always support you in any situation. Opinov8 is a win-win, both technically and emotionally.

What is your superpower?

I really enjoy accompanying people on their career paths. This is not my direct responsibility, but it motivates me very much, and I am pleased to be near and see their growth. πŸ™Œ

How would your friends describe you?

It would be nice to ask them about it! πŸ˜…But probably, they would say that I am a real workaholic. I think they are proud of me for the way I go through all the difficult stages of my life. And they would say that I am too kind, but they see me at work! πŸ™ƒ 

My colleagues would probably describe me completely differently. πŸ˜‚

Suppose if a zombie apocalypse really happened tomorrow, who would you take on your team (only 3 people) to survive in such conditions?

If I need to choose someone from our team, then the choice is tough to make. I will be glad to see nearby our:

  1. Anton H., .NET Practice Lead β€” as it seems to me that he will immediately start killing and save the world from walking zombies, despite the fact that he is a very good and kind person, but at the same time, he can act as our Super Hulk! 😁
  1. Viktor Y., Head of Delivery β€” as I believe he will strategically think about what to do next, how to survive and how to get along with everything! 🧐
  1. Yuri M., Software Architect Practice Lead β€” as he will be responsible for the strategy and architecture of building our new world after the whole apocalypse situation since he is quite smart and always thinks soberly in non-standard situations! 😎

If I make choices from all over the world, I would like to have an incredible scientist who can find a cure for all these troubles. I would definitely take someone in defense, perhaps some sports person or even a boxer. And Oprah Winfrey, we would chat with her in the evenings and talk about everything in the world. πŸ˜„


If you wanna join our super-cool Op8 Team, don’t hesitate to check our open positions or send your CV to careers@opinov8.com

Be curious and driven to explore new horizons and technology areas with us. Let’s innov8 together!

#BEBOLD #BEHUMAN

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