Hi-tech & high heels – Alicja Orzeł

Alicja Orzeł - Senior Product Delivery Manager
7 minutes read

Welcome to the "Hi-tech & high heels" section of our blog, where we spotlight the inspiring journeys of women thriving in the IT industry. This time, it’s Alicja’s turn, our Senior Product Delivery Manager.

Her journey from Polish philology to digital editing, and eventually to IT management, proves the importance of resilience and continuous growth. Alicja shares her challenges, essential skills, industry trends, and valuable advice for young women aspiring to enter the tech world.

How did your career in the IT industry begin?

My adventure began during my university studies in Polish philology and digital editing. In our excellent computer classes, I learned many skills, such as using simple grep commands to speed up text editing and the basics of CSS styling for e-book layout, just to name a few. This sparked my interest in the field. Towards the end of my studies, my teacher informed me about a recruitment opportunity for a content editor/webmaster position at a digital agency in Cracow. At the agency, I realized that coding and content editing alone were simply not my path; I wanted to develop as a manager. And here I am today!

What have been the biggest challenges you've faced in your career?

I believe the biggest challenge in my career has been shaping my path, adapting to industry changes, and continuously developing my skills. Over the past 7 years in the IT industry, I have evolved from a content editor to a traditional project manager, then transitioned to roles as an agile project manager, scrum master, and finally a product manager. This journey has required embracing continuous change and understanding that proactive effort is essential for growth. Whenever I identified potential in a specific area, I took the initiative to start working on it.

What skills are essential in your daily work? What techniques and tools do you use to manage your team and projects?

I believe the skill set for a product manager consists of a balanced mix of several elements. Firstly, analytical thinking and curiosity are crucial; they enable me to analyze market trends, customer data, and make data-driven decisions. Additionally, a strong openness to dialogue is essential because product development is a collaborative effort. We frequently discuss solutions with the team, stakeholders, and customers to gather feedback. Facilitation techniques for meetings can be invaluable in this regard.

Moreover, traditional managerial experience is highly beneficial. Ultimately, we develop products to launch them into the market, necessitating analysis of budgets, timelines, and consideration of risks associated with different product initiatives. Viewing the product from both business and operational perspectives is key—I personally find the Scrum framework, focused on delivering value, particularly helpful in cultivating this mindset.

Successfully bringing a product to market also requires excellent organizational skills—prioritizing tasks, planning releases of key features, and breaking down functionalities into manageable components to quickly gather user feedback. All of this is underpinned by a technological background and a keen interest in understanding user needs and market dynamics.

What trends and changes in the IT industry do you think will have the biggest impact on your work?

Well, current trends such as AI and ML technologies are certainly prevalent across every industry segment. Keeping up with AI advancements to make the most of them in products is essential.

The global data market is expanding at a rapid pace; we are generating and storing more data than ever before, driven by greater internet access and mobile device usage. With the increasing availability of technological solutions and the growing sophistication of cyber threats, we must prioritize security measures in our products and ensure the highest quality of solutions.

Regarding workflow practices, remote and hybrid work has become standard in the IT industry, requiring adjustments and facilitation of meetings within distributed teams to ensure effective communication. Fortunately, the market now provides numerous solutions to visualize product concepts, manage work in progress, and conduct team meetings and workshops efficiently.

What advice would you give young women looking to start a career in IT?

I would echo my grandmother's advice, who is a huge role model for me. She often said, "Never be afraid". After a few years in IT, I would amend her words and encourage young women to do things even when fear is present. We are capable of more than we think.

I hope to see more of us here. In the product field, I believe this will lead to real changes not just in the workplace environment but also in the products we create. Greater gender diversity gives us the chance to address unique needs and incorporate perspectives from both genders, making our technological solutions more inclusive.

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