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Nataliya Naydenova, technical program manager of the product delivery team in Bulgaria, loves technology and people and strongly believes in the importance of providing the right solution. In this blog, Nataliya talks about philanthropy, her amazing work volunteering for different organizations, and how these activities enrich her professionally as well as personally. Read through her inspiring story in her own words.
I grew up in a small village in Bulgaria and would often go to my father’s workplace to play old-school computer games. The more I played, the more curious I became about the technical aspects of how computer games were created. Wanting to explore this further, I applied to a technical college, to study basic languages and programming. I became even more passionate about the field and decided to pursue a BS degree in computer science and the application of real-life solutions.
I started as a web developer, then started leading a team. Over time, I realized that while building solutions was interesting, I was more intrigued by wanting to understand what drove customers’ need for a particular solution. My approach was always more customer-centric, and I was keen on understanding and being able to influence the customer’s decision. With experience, I understood that while engineering and technology are important, people and communication are the underlying key that drives — or should drive! — the development of new technologies, and I shifted my focus towards business analysis and solution architecture.
I worked in solutions architecture for five years, and the exposure to varied ideas, trends, products, and technologies helped me grow personally and professionally. It brought me closer to the customer and product development and, logically, shifted my career focus to product management. Here I could use my combined knowledge of technology and business to provide customers with the right solutions to bring their projects to success. I worked with different stakeholders, developed and aligned new processes, and helped improve existing ones.
One of my other passions, besides my work, is volunteering. I volunteer for different causes and organizations and have always felt it enriches me and makes me a better person.
Over the years, I have volunteered as an English literacy teacher, teaching refugees the basics of the language to give them a better start at their new lives. I have also worked with minority groups, empowering children via education. Teaching kids has been a beautiful experience.
At the moment, I’m also a part of the organization that works for animal welfare, where we teach people to be more responsible towards stray animals.
Teaching children has been a beautiful, enriching experience, and the questions they ask are so amazing. I remember when a seven-year-old raised their hand after one of my sessions and said, “I’m writing an Android program and want to do so for iOS as well, could you guide me how to do it?” I was amazed that a child at that age was writing software, but it made me realize that kids have an amazing capability to learn when the right guidance is provided. The moment will always stay with me.
Another moment was when I was a volunteer English teacher for refugees in Bulgaria — they were a huge mix of people. There was this father who would regularly bring his two daughters to the class, regardless of whether they were too tired that day. He didn’t understand a word, but still sat through the entire class, so his children could get a chance to learn English.
If I have one mantra, it is this: just be kind. Every person has their own challenges, and you never know what their story is. So, instead of being judgmental, be kind to others. Travelling is another love in my life. It gives me exposure to different cultures and people. The one thing that keeps me going is the desire to grow more personally and keep learning.
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