‘We Have to Humanize the Workplace:’ 3 Traits This Director Says You Need to Excel in Engineering

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Kerry Czubko

Photo courtesy of Openly.

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Want to succeed in a career in engineering? Kerry Czubko, an Engineering Director at Openly — a technology-enabled premium insurance provider working with independent agents — says that you’ll need the following three traits:

  1. Curiosity — I have always been someone that asks a lot of questions to get context to make better-informed decisions.

  2. Transparency — I believe in always being forthcoming with communication.

  3. Being a good human — Be empathetic. We have to humanize the workplace and respect people’s non-work time so they can bring their best self to work every day.

By fostering these three traits herself, Czubko has been able to grow her career. Following her innate curiosity has been at the core of her career journey. Czubko started her career by aiming to be a Database Administrator (DBA), a career she says “always intrigued me, and I love to solve problems.” However, when her curiosity waned, she looked to others to find a path that would continue to intrigue her. “With the help of some amazing mentors, I taught myself (PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor) PHP and thrived professionally, finally contributing to the full picture of app development all the way through database management,” she shares. In this way, curiosity led her to her current position.

As part of her career as an Engineer, Czubko has also used transparency to guide her actions. For example, “if a feature is going to be behind, I encourage the team to let me know early so I can help them by discussing tradeoffs, scaling back scope, or negotiating deadlines,” Czubko explains. Being transparent with her teams has helped her better tackle obstacles and succeed in her career.

Finally, putting people first is imperative to growing your engineering career — all while helping others grow theirs. Czubko shares how she is focused on “connecting with our engineers to understand what their passions are, what motivates them, what frustrates them, and what helps them to grow professionally.” This matches her servant style of leadership, where she leads by supporting, working alongside her team, removing blockers, and building a strong relationship of trust. As she says, “I want to empower individuals to do their best work by allowing them to be driven by autonomy, mastery, and purpose.”

Want to learn more from Czubko on advancing your engineering career? Read on!

Advice for growing a career as an engineer.

For women who are looking to grow a career in engineering, especially for those who want to move into a leadership role as Czubko has, she shares the following advice:

  1. Find strong mentors (of multiple genders!).

    • “You are going to come across situations where you will want to have someone to bounce questions off of on how to respond or move forward,” explains Czubko. “Having a strong woman leader to support you goes a long way.” Male mentors are also important and can provide a different perspective and help amplify your voice when you are the only woman in a room, she says.

  2. Be comfortable not knowing the answer to something. No one ever needs to be afraid to ask questions. Asking questions can only help you better deliver on expectations and make it clear to both parties what is expected of you on a certain project or in a certain role.”

  3. Extend that ladder out for the next woman leader behind you.” Connect with other women and bring them along.”

  4. Find a company that will help you achieve your goals. “Being in tech as a woman is challenging and sometimes has me questioning my career choice,” notes Czubko, “but, if you find a supportive company, it makes a world of difference.”

    • To find a supportive company, “you really have to do your own research to understand if the company you are joining supports Engineering and Technology” Czubko tells us. “If it’s not something they are actively investing in and bought into to drive the company’s future, you might find yourself looking for another position soon or having an uphill battle with Executive Management.”

Luckily for Czubko and her colleagues, Openly has provided the perfect environment by living out their values and showing “empathy toward us in our work-life balance,” states Czubko. “I am honored that I get to work alongside such smart and passionate people daily,” says Czubko.



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