Happy business people clapping in the conference room, IT Pro Day

How to find your motivation at work when all hopes are lost

Happy business people clapping in the conference room

“Where on Earth do you find the motivation to show up at work with so much energy and get things done?” turned out to be the most popular question I got over the past year.

A personal year like no other. After months of visits to hospitals, one day I woke up with the sounds of war outrage in Ukraine. Following days of raid alerts and shelters, I ended up in Poland with my whole life put into one backpack, just grateful for the fact of staying alive. Since then, one of the most important things which helped me to stay sane appeared to be my work. So, I decided to summarise my motivations during this time to answer how work can become the lighthouse even in the darkest hours.

A job gives you a feeling of control

A simple routine brings a sense of accomplishment. Even if your life is entirely out of control, you know much more about your work. You know what to do, when to do it, and in which sequence. You can easily measure the progress, which is under your control. This routine helps you to be present in time and focus on which valuable tasks you can accomplish today at work rather than allowing your brain to stay anxious about your future 24/7.

In my case, one day I found myself heading to a country, where I did not know the language, had no idea about local rules, and barely knew anyone. I neither have planned nor properly prepared for the move. I still have no certainty on when and whether I can get back home, and what tomorrow holds for me. But I know for sure that every morning I can greet my colleagues on daily meetings. I know my planned activities for the week and what is scheduled in the calendar for upcoming days. This gives me certainty, and certainty gives a piece of mind.

Work can help your mental health, not only harm it

No one would argue that health is the most important of all. When we deal with serious health issues, it is even harder. All of a sudden instead of job discussions, you have doctor appointments and exhaustive procedures. If that lasts long, you are getting so tired that you need another treatment after the main treatment. That is when your work can help by being a distraction.

This month during my educational program at Stanford GSB I met a peer, who told me about his idol. A person fighting a serious disease in the hospital, every day writes work emails, stays deeply engaged, and does not disappear from work radars. Some may argue that in such conditions people should not work for the sake of their health. Which might be true. However, specifically for him, this experience allows him to distract from painful procedures and thoughts about how many days he has left, while being locked in the hospital room. He uses work as an enabler to get through unpleasant experiences, replacing them with a normal work routine that keeps him interested and energised.

It is not about what, it is about why

Many of us believe that only certain kinds of jobs permit people to find meaning and bring social value. If we take this view, good work is just going to be the province of the few – doctors, teachers, CEOs, etc. But you can (and I would say should) shape your job with a central purpose of organisation in mind. And then craft your jobs with short-term impacts you collectively create. If you are in tech, regardless of whether you work as an executive assistant, HR professional, or marketing officer, you create digital solutions, which shape our tomorrow – the way the next generation will educate, travel, get their groceries and spend their leisure time. This reminder might drastically change your perception of daily tasks.

For example, I do not show up every day at work thinking that I will prepare another tremendous proposal today and that is an amazing achievement as such. Instead, I show up with a mindset that I am here to enable our clients to start a new journey. A journey of a disruptive product that will change the industry or users’ experience. That sounds way more inspiring!

You are always part of a bigger picture

Recently, with the war outrage in Ukraine, I opened more secret senses of my job. The job is means to support the Ukrainian economy and create new workplaces. Workplaces for those, who either need a new job or will go through upskilling and will get to IT in Ukraine in the long run. This is an absolutely different perception of my daily work. When even a drop to the ocean counts. And I would highly recommend looking beyond your organisation to find that big purpose, if you completely lost one on your own.

In summary, your job might be as important and meaningful as you choose it to be. And when everything in life goes wrong, you can at least hold on to your job. “I have not found a motivation, I crafted it” turned out to be the most honest answer on my end to the initial question.

About the author

Nataliia PelykhNataliia Pelykh is a Solutioning Director, Product at Ciklum, a global digital solutions company for Fortune 500 and fast-growing businesses. She has a proven track record of leading global product development for some of the world’s largest organisations in roles of product owner and business analyst. Nataliia led cross-functional teams, worked as internal competency lead, and now is primarily focused on setting up new product engineering engagements. Prior to IT, Nataliia worked in business consulting at EY.

Nataliia’s contribution to her organisation and wider IT community helped her secure Finalist positions in Ukrainian and UK IT Awards in two consecutive years. She has also been nominated multiple times for the Women In Tech Excellence Awards.

Additionally, Nataliia is a Board Member of a non-profit organisation with a key focus on professional education and networking events. Recently, this society launched ‘Fearless Girls’ program aimed at helping women affected by war in Ukraine, which Nataliia is actively supporting.

women in tech, soft skills featured

Tech needs you: How to translate your existing skills and strengths for a career in IT

women in tech, soft skills

Article by Nataliia Pelykh, Business analysis competency lead at Ciklum

My career didn’t begin in tech – but instead as an analyst working on financial models and forecasting for a whole host of industries, including agriculture, oil and gas.

My best friend back then was Microsoft Excel, and my role was a combination of working numbers and narratives. The exponential and impressive growth of the tech sector led me to make the switch and join the 55 million others working in IT across the world. Thinking of Sheryl Sandberg’s famous words, I had high hopes that the sector would be the means by which I would skyrocket my career.

It’s never too late, or too early, to change course

Ciklum’s business analyst department is undergoing a review of seniority levels this summer, and as part of this initiative, I am also working on updates to the BA job description. Why? The job description hasn’t changed much since I first used it to apply for my current role more than three years ago – but my team’s processes, and the demands of our clients, have. My vision for the newly revised JD is that we will focus less on the number of years a candidate has on their CV and instead give more weight to the diversity and breadth of their experience. There are so many fantastic candidates out there – who could be great for a BA role in tech – and it is important that in my team, we do not raise barriers to those who come from outside of the industry.

Here are my thoughts on how best to translate your existing skills and strengths for your big move into the tech sector.

1. Do your research

In spring 2016, I got in touch with a friend who was already working in a tech-based BA role – we talked about the nature of the job, his day-to-day tasks, what about the job he found interesting, and what drove him. This was my first introduction into a tech career that changed my own pre-existing assumptions about the industry.

I then spent lots of time researching the tech sector – reading widely, and speaking with my friend a little more about his work. This is my first suggestion for those looking to expand their experiences by moving into tech: do your research. Read industry magazines, google what kind of roles might be available, reach out to people already in the industry via LinkedIn – you’ll find that so many professionals will be responsive and keen to offer advice. Attend industry events and soak up as much as you possibly can; find job descriptions from a range of tech companies offering a variety of roles and compare them. This can help you narrow down where you might find your place within tech – and trust me, there’s space for your skillset. Be open to feedback after interviews, and remember, statistics show that women tend to only apply for a job when they meet 100% of the criteria. If you’re on the fence about an application because you’re worried you don’t have the experience, apply anyway.

At the same time as doing this work, it’s also important to ask yourself – where do I want to be in a year or in several years’ time? My research showed me just how quickly the IT industry was growing, and I decided that it was a place in which I would find some of the things I was looking for; working with people, utilising my communication skills, and the opportunity to create digital products.

2. Embrace your background

The level of opportunities within the tech sector is seismic – I truly believe there is space for every possible skill set and ability within this fast-growing, incredibly creative industry. Embrace the background you have – everything you have done up to this point has value – and know that there are always opportunities to learn in this constantly evolving sector.

I wouldn’t change my background or my career journey thus far – even if I could go back and do it again. The wonderful thing about the industry being so fast-paced is that it moves quicker than we do. I constantly need to level up my skills and to learn the things that I don’t know already. In my case, I really found that my financial consultancy background enabled me to gain key experience in working with and managing clients – from a range of complicated and challenging industries. At Ciklum, my clients are no different: they have a wide range of needs and challenges that we work to solve. As I’ve progressed in my tech career, I’ve come to see that my understanding of business models has helped me to better grasp the challenges that clients face. An experience that I initially thought might not have much connection to the IT industry does, in fact, have so much value to offer.

3. Identify your transferable skills

No matter what industry you’re already working in, I can guarantee you will have a wealth of skills and competencies at your fingertips – and we need those skills in tech.

This isn’t as much about your technical knowledge – but about your behaviours and attributes and your transferable, learned skills. Examples might include communication skills and personability; analytical thinking; ability to manage projects and people; team working; curiosity; problem solving; active listening, or a desire to learn. Identifying transferable skills often means looking beyond the confines of a CV or a job description. Make a list of your day-to-day work activities, and assign associated skills to each one. Ask others to identify your ‘soft’ skills, or talk to someone already working in tech about the attributes they view as being important for their particular role – and find connections between your list and theirs.

As a consultant, my key strengths were in building an argument, proving value, understanding client problems or concerns, and getting under the skin of a business. I would definitely describe myself as a storyteller and someone who can see the whole picture. Not only has this attribute proved to be immensely transferable, but I have found that my exposure to the many end-users of a range of digital applications has resulted in the narratives I create as a BA becoming more human-centric and richer, with real-life experiences.

Creatives, consultants, leaders, analytical thinkers, scientists, scholars, the list goes on – but tech needs us all. It is never too early in your career, and never too late, to try something new and make the transfer to a job in the IT sector. And whilst you might be considering making the switch to a tech career, it is the responsibility of the wider industry to rethink how they approach job descriptions and tackle some of the barriers that women, in particular, face upon entry to the sector.

Nataliia PelykhAbout the author

Nataliia Pelykh is business analysis competency lead at Ciklum, a global digital solutions company for Fortune 500 and fast-growing businesses. Nataliia’s contribution to her organisation and the business analysis community helped her secure a TOP-3 Business Analysts in Ukrainian IT Awards nomination in 2020. More recently, she has been nominated for the Women In Tech Excellence Rising Star of the Year Award. Nataliia is also a Board Member of a non-profit organisation with a key focus on professional education and networking events.


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