“The QA position is a perfect base for growth.” — Anna Yakubova, Senior QA Manual and Scrum Master

April 24, 2023 6 min read

Experience is often the best teacher, and for our today’s hero, that’s true. For a sincere and inspiring conversation, I invited Anna Yakubova, Senior QA Manual and Scrum Master. Anna’s passion for growth, hard work, and huge skill set is helping her along her career path.

From the importance of having a supportive team to the value of continuous learning, Anya’s story offers valuable insights for anyone looking to grow their career in the tech industry.


Nothing comes by chance

At school, I loved math and physics, and from age 10, I planned to become a financier like my mother. So, after getting a finance degree, I started my work at a bank. At that time, everyone said it was the most stable job. It didn’t take long for me to realize that banking wasn’t my passion. I didn’t like the restrictions I faced — the dress code, the rigid hierarchy, the lack of freedom of action, and the not-so-friendly team. 

Then a classmate wrote to me regarding the open vacancy of a linguist and advised me to join a machine translation startup. A radical change of career and environment was exactly what I needed. Despite having no linguistic education, I passed my trial period, and my tenure there kicked off. At the startup, I learned the basics of application development. We worked with self-documented code, created rules, structure, and a framework for translation. 

After two years, I realized that the self-documented code is rather narrow in its specifics and then I began thinking about my prospects and further development. I analyzed my responsibilities and searched for something similar. I was partially performing the QA role by writing the rules that guided the translation; I checked everything myself; I found errors in the system and fixed them. Of course, my knowledge wasn’t enough to start a career in tech, so together with my husband, who had also decided to pursue a career in tech, we delved into educating ourselves. We read books, watched videos, analyzed the crucial hard skills for QA, and gradually gained experience.

"I am very motivated and inspired by my husband. He supports me and sees more in me than I do. We embarked on our paths in tech simultaneously, studied, and had interviews together. We freely discuss various topics, speak the same language, and share insights and innovations in the industry," — shares Anna

Advance a cause

I joined Innovecs as a Middle QA Manual. The atmosphere at the interview with my potential Team Lead surprised me — it was easygoing and appropriate. I immediately felt a significant difference in attitude compared to previous interviews. During our talk, I realized how important your team and the people around you at the workplace are.

Thanks to the amazing team at Innovecs, I’ve had an incredible 4.5 years at the company, and I’m excited to see what the future holds for us. We never divided into groups; everything was much easier. You can invite anyone to the kitchen for coffee, and in 10 minutes, you’re like a big family, sitting together and discussing work or life.

My team constantly inspires me to elevate my skills and knowledge. Every conversation is exciting, filled with cutting-edge industry terms and insights that make me proud to work among such talented professionals. And if there is something you don’t know, you can easily ask whatever bothers you without any hesitation. Connecting with the right people is key, especially when breaking into the tech industry. Surrounding yourself with industry leaders who share their knowledge and expertise can accelerate your growth, keeping you ahead of the curve and on the path to success.

While I still was a Middle QA, I proceeded to learning Java for Automation to broaden my horizons. I wanted to learn from the best, and I strongly desired to enroll in a course taught by Denys Shcherbina, Experienced QA Automation Engineer. I didn’t give up when I discovered he was no longer teaching there. Instead, I took matters into my own hands and reached out to him on LinkedIn. Letter for letter, we agreed to meet twice a week in a coworking space and listen to his private lectures with the team of people I have assembled. We studied this way for 3-4 months and, frankly speaking, it was an exciting experience, and as a result, we learned the basics of Java. 

Taking charge of a self-organized course, I felt responsible for the group, which quickly sparked my inner Scrum Master. So when the project transformed from Kanban to Scrum, my team offered me to lead this position which I accepted with pleasure. 

To have a more slight transition from Kanban to Scrum, we invited Artem Bykovets, Certified LeSS and Agile coach and Scrum Master, to conduct training and consultations. Artem always talks about real things. It’s a pleasure to attend his lectures, webinars, or workshops because he talks about everything from the point of view of his own experience. Compared to several other lecturers, when people talk about more abstract things in an ideal world, he talks about the problems that happen on the real projects, providing recommendations on how to solve them. 


Impostor syndrome

During my career path, I have repeatedly encountered impostor syndrome. When I started working as a linguist, I had no experience in this field. I had to learn the essential aspects, understand the system and improve professional language skills. Initially, I had doubts — people study at specialized universities for five years. What can I do with my finance degree? But I received such feedback: “Anna, in some parts, you are better than people with specialized education. Don’t pay attention to the degree. Perseverance, desire, and curiosity will help you achieve more.” When the person you look up to shows and emphasizes your achievements with specific examples and sincere kudos, it gives you wings.

After some reflection, I’ve identified a few effective principles for overcoming impostor syndrome:

  • Less bias — having a diploma/certificate does not always define a professional.
  • To increase confidence in yourself and your knowledge, you need to constantly learn and apply knowledge in practice.
  • Notice and celebrate your achievements.


Breaking Stereotypes

As I went through particular roles, I acquired different skills. It’s hard to highlight a separate list of hard skills for QA, as it all depends on the project, stack, app, and architecture. My skill sets are more related to web apps, as my interests lie primarily in that area rather than mobile apps.

If we talk about QA in general, I think a specialist should know at least one programming language at a basic level to understand what developers are talking about. In addition, developers respect you more when you can, e.g., suggest an approach to implementation, how to handle the details, and where the data is extracted from.

But if we talk about soft skills, I would, first of all, highlight such traits as curiosity and courage. You must be like a little kid who wants to explore everything, check it out, use different functions, and not be afraid to talk about mistakes. I don’t like this stereotype when people think that QA is a person who only has to find bugs. For me, QA is an analyst who should help ensure good quality and find opportunities for product development and improvement.

An experienced QA should improve the testing processes or approaches, interact with development, enhance certain things at the product level (e.g., emphasize UX), and offer ready-made solutions to eliminate deficiencies. The QA position is a perfect base for growth and the skills you develop in yourself pave the way to many opportunities for further career development. You can switch to management, using the ability to identify and analyze problems and having well-established team interactions; you can switch to development if you are more interested in a tech area.


Being a Role Model for Your Team

A leader should be an example; this is the basis of leadership. If you expect your team to grow and develop, you must first be a role model. You have to take care of and support people that try to follow you or are inspired by you as they go through their journey. A leader should not use privileges and rights for personal gain; that’s insidious.

Leadership is also about transparency and honesty in communicating with each other. A leader is a person who doesn’t ask and point but helps, guides, or simply sets an example.


The power of listening and building a safe environment

As a Scrum Master, you are able to unlock your team’s full potential. To create a dynamic and collaborative environment, you must possess unique skills to drive your team toward success.

  • Empathy. I am an empathic person, and working with people helps me. By feeling people, their mood, and their motivation, you can create the right atmosphere at meetings and generally establish relationships in the team.
  • The ability to hear. When working with a team, it’s important to remember that a team is a single entity made up of individuals. It’s crucial to hear and feel if someone on the team is going through some difficulties.
  • Trust. When the 5 values of Scrum — Commitment, Focus, Openness, Respect, and Courage — are integrated into the work, trust in the Scrum team is strengthened. This leads to activating the three pillars of Scrum:

– transparency;

– inspection;

– adaptation.


When there is openness and honesty between people, we can easily discuss problems and conduct retrospectives more effectively. Next, we can inspect to analyze what we did right and wrong and what needs to be improved. As a result, this makes it possible to adapt processes on the project, considering the problems that have arisen before. 

“I really appreciate the sincerity. It's easy to feel and impossible to fake,” — shares Anna.

Fueling your creativity and development

A culture of continuous learning has become a new norm among tech professionals. It’s thrilling to be a part of this movement. In today’s rapidly evolving world, you must stay abreast with the latest trends, needs, and conditions to stay ahead of the curve.

In 2022, many specialists around the world faced massive job layoffs. To my mind, this situation shouldn’t demotivate but rather stimulate development. You can become more competitive among other techies by elevating expertise and having an up-to-date view of what is happening in the market.

I agree that sometimes finding the resources to study is pretty difficult, and it is always easier to chill in your comfort zone. However, technology is only moving forward, so it’s a must-have for tech professionals to develop.

“For example, you can attend meet-ups and conferences to find inspiration among people who continue learning and sharing knowledge no matter what. The professional community is very supportive in terms of inspiration," — shares Anna

With the beginning of spring, nature begins to wake up, fueling me with endless energy and creative inspiration. I want to outline a plan for further development. For example, I plan to pass certification PSM II from Scrum.org; to get a few more certifications; and learn about other frameworks.


Find your voice 

I like the way Innovecs cares both about career development and well-being. You are inspired and gain new energy and resources to work and find new hobbies. You start running with the running community, participating in functional and stretching training. I find like-minded people in the cooking community and get inspired by new recipes. Looking through the list of communities at InnoClub, you are constantly thinking about where else to sign up and what to do. Soon, I plan to learn how to invest.

I like the way Innovecs highlights its people and reveals them as individuals through interviews. It gives you courage. At the very beginning, I was scared. I was worried that people would not share my point of view or would judge me. After my first interview, everything became easier. 

When you are constantly at work, doing daily tasks, you don’t notice a lot of moments. But such activities as interviews and retrospectives force you to analyze your growth. In the future, I want to formalize my results and experience in the knowledge-sharing base. 


The key pillars to success

I recommend reflecting on the initial stages of entering a new field – how much it resonates with you and whether you like it. Sometimes it’s hard to indicate while studying, but you can already draw certain conclusions by completing tasks.

If you are not interested, but for some reason, you want to work in tech, it’ll be challenging to force yourself to do something. When you like your job, you have an internal engine – self-inspiration and self-motivation. It helps to develop, be curious about new things and topics, and pass courses and certifications.

Learning is essential at any level — Junior, Middle, Senior — and you should understand that you must be ready to learn even when you don’t want to. Keeping yourself in good shape and taking time to study is the key to success in any career.

When the question “What’s next?” arises, it is not necessary to change your position for further development; you can, e.g., change approaches or frameworks. There are many variations of career development, depending on your interest.


Final Thoughts

My conversation with Anna was genuinely insightful and pleasant. I got to know not only a great professional who continually develops at every stage of her career but also a fascinating and profound person. Here are some key takeaways from our conversation that I would like to share.

When you join a company, you’re not just choosing a job but also a lifestyle and an environment for growth. It’s crucial to work in a company where you feel safe and sound, surrounded by people who motivate and inspire you. As a result, your will grow exponentially.

Particularly in times of crisis and job layoffs, you must keep growing and developing your skills. Critical situations only strengthen us if we direct our emotions right.

Anna’s principles for overcoming impostor syndrome were incredibly supportive. When you hear from someone in a Senior position that it’s okay to encounter and acknowledge the syndrome, you feel like you’re not alone in this world. You can overcome the syndrome with much more confidence.

The sky is the limit. The main thing is to do what you enjoy and it will inspire you to improve necessary skills and set your sights on your career.

Nataliia Horova
PR&Media Relations Specialist
Exploring life stories and career paths of talented individuals.
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