Interview. Part 1

Welcome, Irina. Thank you for joining us today. Let's start by delving into your journey. What is the nature of your interest in technology and programming?

Thank you for having me. Well, my journey into the world of technology was quite unexpected. Initially, I had aspirations of becoming a veterinarian due to my love for animals. However, my father's practical advice made me reconsider, leading me to explore other options. Despite having minimal exposure to math and science during my schooling, I found myself drawn toward programming, particularly during my university years.

It sounds like you encountered some challenges along the way. How did you overcome these obstacles and find your path in programming?

Indeed, my initial experiences with math and physics were daunting, and I often felt inadequate compared to my peers. However, with perseverance and support from my family, I embraced the challenge. Despite moments of self-doubt, I gradually gained confidence in my abilities, especially when I excelled in practical applications like assembling electrical circuits.

It's inspiring to hear how you navigated through those uncertainties. Could you elaborate on how you transitioned from being a student to establishing your own company?

After completing my education, I faced the reality of needing to support myself financially. Through a series of opportunities and experiences, including internships and part-time teaching positions, I honed my skills and built a network within the industry. A year later, I took maternity leave, already having my own clients. After maternity leave my employer declined to take me back. I went through two maternity leaves one by one, continuing to work individually, offering consulting services. Additionally, I was offered a teaching position at the university, which I juggled alongside my other responsibilities. 

Eventually, I realized that managing everything on my own was challenging, especially with two young children. That's when I made the decision to start my own company. Reflecting on it now, it's amusing to think about how brave and naive I was back then. Despite the challenges, my husband's unwavering support gave me the confidence to pursue my dreams. With his encouragement, I took the leap, and here I am today.

Building a company from the ground up is no small feat. Can you share some insights into how you cultivated a successful team and company culture?

Absolutely. For me, creating a positive and supportive work environment was paramount. I focused on hiring individuals who shared my passion for technology and exhibited a willingness to learn and grow. By fostering a culture of collaboration and continuous improvement, we've been able to retain talented employees and adapt to the ever-changing landscape of the tech industry.

I'm just thinking about a young woman who's a mother of two, yet she takes the bold step of opening her own company. It's fascinating to consider why people, likely with prior experience, would choose to follow her lead.

You know, I never really pondered that myself—why they chose to join me. I remember one instance where I took on an intern without much experience, and the very next day, I offered her a job. She stayed with me for a long time, and from there, I started hiring more people, often tapping into my network from my part-time teaching role at the university.

It's remarkable how individuals can flourish given the right environment. You mentioned that this particular intern blossomed—how would you describe that transformation?

Yes, she really thrived. In fact, everyone who worked with me seemed to grow and develop. Some moved on, but I currently have team members who have been with me for quite some time. One of them, for example, has been with me for years, coming all the way from the beginning.

Incredible. And how did you leverage your expertise in agriculture to secure projects in this sector?

Agriculture presented a unique opportunity for us due to its complex production cycle. By understanding the intricacies of various agricultural processes, such as plant growing and animal husbandry, poultry farming and greenhouse management, we were able to position ourselves as experts in the field. This expertise not only attracted clients but also enabled us to deliver tailored solutions to meet their specific needs.

Your dedication to your team's well-being is evident. What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs, especially women entering the tech field?

My advice would be to embrace challenges as opportunities for growth and never underestimate the power of perseverance. Surround yourself with a supportive network of mentors and peers, and don't be afraid to take risks and pursue your passions. Remember, success is not determined by how many times you fall, but by how many times you rise again.

Will follow this incredible story in the second part of this interview. Stay tuned to learn how KAC company expanded from Kazakhstan to Europe.