Women in SaaS June Feature: Anna Loukianova
Welcome to our third installment of “Women in SaaS,” featuring Bolste’s own, Anna Loukianova!
Women in SaaS is Bolste’s series dedicated to the women working in SaaS every day, breaking new ground and changing the world of STEM.
Bolste: How did you get into tech?
AL: When I went to college I wanted to be a linguistics major, but my parents wanted me to try programming on the side in case it didn’t work out. I ended up really liking it in spite of them. When I was just getting ready to graduate, I got a job on campus – it was me dipping my toes into React for the first time – so I became a student developer and from there, the rest is history.
Bolste: How do you get better at your craft?
AI: Mess up. A lot. The more mistakes you make, the better you become. It sucks because it always puts you in a weird position, but looking back, I think “I would never do this now,” and it’s nice to look behind me and see that I’ve grown.
Programming is a blend of logic and creativity. If you have problems with things like math, it can be because it’s logical and prescriptive, so it’s easy to say “It’s the math’s fault.” But for programming, you can’t blame anyone but yourself. You have to be ok with working through your problem. You can’t blame the machine. Everything you’ve made has come from you.
Bolste: Have there been any challenges being in a male dominated industry?
AL: I think this is pretty common across the industry – not really knowing what kind of questions are acceptable or “I might seem dumb if I ask this,” or “Will people take me seriously if I don’t understand something?” For some, the challenge can be speaking out about things and having a voice.
For me, I often feel junior regardless of what I know how to do. It can sometimes feel easier to just wait and see what other people will say rather than bringing things up, and I don’t know if that’s specific to being a woman, being towards the beginning of my career, or both.
Bolste: What do you feel like you’ve contributed to Bolste?
AL: The most obvious thing – I’ve contributed to my team being considered successful and high-performing. But besides that, by virtue of people thinking differently and having different mindsets, I’ve contributed the way I think to different projects and discussions. I think that always ties back to me being an individual and adding a certain element of creativity.
Bolste: If you weren’t doing this— what you’re doing now— what path would you be taking?
AL: It’s hard to define what “this” is. Because coding is so broad, it’s hard to think “if I wasn’t programming…” because it’s such a broad sphere. If it wasn’t that, I wanted to do film school and cinematography when I was younger. But I’d rather stay in tech and work on bleeding-edge technologies, predictive AI, stuff like that. There’s always something new to explore in the field.
Bolste: What’s been the coolest thing about working for a startup?
AL: The way I describe it to other people, it’s very lively. It’s fast paced and there’s something happening all the time.
In order to do well, you have to be the kind of person who’s vocal and active. I would love to help women getting into tech startups, and I think at some point I’ll be in a position where I can look back on a long history of experience and help people. Right now, I’m trying to take in as much as I can. I’ve been really, really lucky that I’ve always been in very supportive environments.
Bolste: Where do you see yourself in five years?
AL: It’s hard to imagine so many possibilities. It could be anything. It’s hard to even tell what the state of the tech industry is going to be like in five years, because even the frameworks we use change so fast. But I think I’m really comfortable doing front-end and, if anything, I’d want to branch out and dip my toes in emergent technologies, artificial intelligence and automation. Stuff like that.
Bolste: What’s been one of your favorite projects?
AL: This. Bolste. Every day is a new challenge and there’s just so much stuff to explore, even in the code. Every little component and module is a “cave of wonders” where nothing really works. But then it does. And it’s magical. So, working here is like a journey of discovery.
Bolste: Do you feel like you’ve made a difference? Like you’re a part of something bigger and have made an impact?
AL: Yes, I do feel like I’ve made a difference. Coding can be very collaborative, so even if, at times, I see other people’s add-on work fail, I think “I’ve done something right. And what’s right is going to live there forever.”
I really believe that what’s more important than the end result is the way we got here and the things I’ve learned on the way. It’s all about the experience. I’ve definitely learned more working here at Bolste than anywhere else and I’ve been exposed to so many more things. That’s really the big takeaway – the knowledge around the tech and the experience.
Bolste: What advice would you give to other women who want to travel the same path you have?
AL: Don’t be afraid. Jump in. Know where to find resources when you need them. But more importantly, find a supportive environment. I’m lucky that I’m part of a team that’s so good. I wouldn’t have been successful at all if it weren’t for the people here at Bolste.