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SheCanCode Spotlight Series: Tania Kinal, Chief Operating Officer, Pod Group

Tania Kinal, Chief Operating Officer, Pod Group

ARTICLE SUMMARY

Tania Kinal is COO of Pod Group, responsible for building, improving, and optimizing pod group's systems, services, and product offering.

Tania joined Pod Group in 2012, having previously worked in the financial sector, after looking for a new challenge to contribute to developing systems and projects.

Tania set out to improve efficiency, productivity, and satisfaction for both customers and operators through well-thought-out systems.

As Pod developed, Tania took on more responsibilities and now oversees the operational goals, processes, and initiatives.

Tania’s passion about technology and in-depth knowledge go hand in hand with her technical expertise that leads to the development of cutting edge innovative solutions.

Being a COO is an experience she enjoys because Tania takes pleasure from being surrounded by technology and great minds that are dedicated to the same mission.

In her spare time, Tania likes to travel, and she loves taking care of her cat. She dreams of having a cat shelter someday.

SHECANCODE CAUGHT UP WITH TANIA TO TALK ABOUT LANDING HER CURRENT ROLE, HER ROLE MODELS AND HER CAREER ADVICE AND TIPS.

HOW DID YOU LAND YOUR CURRENT ROLE? WAS IT PLANNED?

I graduated from the computer science faculty at the Technical University in Ukraine.  I’m a big fan of technology, and I have always wanted to pursue a career in IT. So many areas, industries, and businesses fall under the tech umbrella, and I was curious about them all. 

I started in a FinTech company but discovered the finance part wasn’t really my thing. When I found out about Pod Group and the applications of IoT SIM cards, it really spoke to me. Although to be fully honest, I didn’t know a thing about SIM cards at the time.

That was ten years ago, so I know a thing or two now. It’s been an incredible journey, and the technology, which is why I entered this industry, is constantly advancing, so there’s always something new around the corner.

WHAT ARE THE CRITICAL ROLES IN YOUR FIELD OF WORK, AND WHY DID YOU CHOOSE YOUR CURRENT EXPERTISE?

As COO, my role includes global processes, management within Pod Group, and a level of control of financing. I also work closely with our CEO to design how best to deliver strategies for both ourselves and our customers. And, of course, a big part of the role is ensuring our services are running perfectly, too.  

I chose this role due to my inherent interest in tech and the inspiration I gained from discovering how Pod Group’s IoT technology is used to keep the world running. My expertise in both this space and my role has been developed over the years, through hard work and learning.  

DID YOU (OR DO YOU) HAVE A ROLE MODEL IN TECH OR BUSINESS IN GENERAL?

My mum is my biggest role model. She never loses herself and always shows a level of empathy and emotional intelligence that I can only aspire to. Looking back, it’s even more inspirational since she grew up in the Soviet Union, where compassion and EQ weren’t desired traits.

In terms of professional role models, even if it might be cliché, I find Apple’s story very inspirational. Steve’s initial growth of Apple and his return to the company, after success with the likes of NeXT and Pixar, show hard work will help you achieve big dreams.  

WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN YOUR CAREER SO FAR?

Being strong enough to move to another country, learn a new language, and follow my dream. I think it takes a lot of power and determination, so I am very proud of what I have achieved.

WHAT DOES AN AVERAGE WORKDAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?

With plenty of meetings and emails, there’s always a problem on the list that needs to be solved in between. As a person in a senior position, I am responsible for a lot of problem-solving and making final decisions.  

When it comes to challenges, I prefer to tackle them one by one. The sense of completion helps with the ability to focus on each new challenge with a clear mind and full attention.

ARE THERE ANY SPECIFIC SKILLS OR TRAITS THAT YOU NOTICE COMPANIES LOOK FOR WHEN YOU’RE SEARCHING FOR ROLES IN YOUR FIELD?

I think it’s essential to look for emotional intelligence, especially when you hire people for senior roles and leadership roles. The person should be energetic and be able to drive others by example, especially as a leader. Finally, the hiring individual should not be scared to roll up their sleeves and just get the work done.

Although a paycheck is essential, I would expect the person to be driven by the mission of the company, not the salary. The future hire must share the company’s values and understand the goals.

Another essential point is that, although relevant skills are necessary, the chemistry that the team will have with person is much more valuable. Skills can be learned, and it is more important to have someone with whom you can get along and understand than the most skilled person in the world.

HAS ANYONE EVER TRIED TO STOP YOU FROM LEARNING AND DEVELOPING IN YOUR PROFESSIONAL LIFE, OR HAVE YOU FOUND THE TECH SECTOR SUPPORTIVE?

Although the tech sector can be hard at times and full of challenges, I always had the feeling that I was in a position where I could evolve.

Of course, women are not as present in tech as men, so I would encourage all women with an interest in the industry to pursue their careers and actively participate in every project they can.

HAVE YOU EVER FACED INSECURITIES AND ANXIETIES DURING YOUR CAREER, AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?

Of course, just like everyone else. The only thing is, I like a good challenge. The saying goes, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, ” which is what I live my life by.

I think we need to look at everything in life as a challenge. In IT, at any given moment, something new happens; new technologies, apps, acronyms, regulations, and so on. It can feel like it is impossible to stay up to date.

But if you look at this as a challenge, you feel the incentive to innovate, to focus, and learn new things.

ENTERING THE WORLD OF WORK CAN BE DAUNTING. DO YOU HAVE ANY WORDS OF ADVICE FOR ANYONE FEELING OVERWHELMED?

First, it is fine to be overwhelmed; don’t let anyone tell you differently. Secondly, apply to any job even if you don’t fit all the requirements.

I read an article about applying to jobs that said men would most likely apply to any job, while women tend not to if they don’t fit all the requirements. So, I encourage all women to break this cycle and shoot their shot.

It can be hard not to get answers but maximizing your applications will do more good than harm in the long run. Be confident in yourself and your ability to develop new skills and learning something new.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE OTHER WOMEN WANTING TO REACH THEIR CAREER GOALS IN TECHNOLOGY?

In technology you need to read and learn a lot, since tech advances so quickly. Focus on one thing at a time so you’re not lost or going down rabbit holes. Read up on that one area and become the expert people need. If it doesn’t work out, no problem, simply move to the next thing, and repeat the process until you find your perfect fit.

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