From biochemistry to the tech sector: a Computer Systems Technology grad shares her journey

When Nadia Dobrianskaia, saw the gap between what scientists needed and what developers could provide, she enrolled in BCIT’s Computer Systems Technology program to follow her father’s footsteps into a career in the tech sector.

Why or how did you move into the tech sector?

My family moved to Canada when I was 10 years old. Upon graduating from high school I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. All I knew was that if I went to a university I would be set for life – my family was very supportive of education. After being impressed by a bacteriophage documentary, I chose to major in Biochemistry. There I was, wide-eyed, doing co-op jobs/directed studies and working on some fascinating research. I loved it!

In the lab I got to work with some fascinating machines. I cloned and expressed various proteins, studied a heart drug going through FDA trials, and eventually moved to conduct research in producing plastics out of wood. As I gained momentum doing various types of research, one aspect of my daily job fascinated me. We had these state-of-the-art instruments to help us automate most of our lab work: I could prep 100 samples in one day and run it overnight. It was amazing that I could have data within 24 hours.

The science-tech gap

The downside of all this data is that I would spend 3-4 days trying to analyze it using Excel spreadsheets, and there was always something missing. In one of my co-ops, our team commissioned a company to make software. Upon software delivery, our team determined that it did not function properly, and returned incorrect results. So we continued to measure the results manually.

There seemed to be a communication barrier between what scientists needed and what developers could provide, and I saw this much more often then you could imagine. There it is, that was the push for me to follow in the footsteps of my father. He worked as a computer programmer and was well known in our home country. If you were to speak to a 16-year-old Nadia, she would never believe that she would ever work in the tech sector like her father. There was just too much evidence to continue to ignore a high demand for people in computing. I found myself asking how I could change careers, which led me to enrolling at BCIT. This is how I eventually ended up in the tech sector.

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Where did you start your career?

During my time studying in Computer Systems Technology at BCIT, I volunteered for a lot of activities, mentored other students and kids in high school, and even started a new club to support students in coding. I could not have done it without the guidance and support of faculty who inspired the best in me. One thing led to another, and I am glad I took that first step, as it really helped me get to know my instructors better and get a reputation as someone who was willing to do a little extra.

Through a lot of hard work and luck I landed a job with the first company I submitted my resume to. I was particularly interested in this company because I heard the CEO speak at an event and I remember thinking to myself, here is someone I would love to work for. The company specializes in data connectivity and we work with numerous different types of datasources.

I now work as a Solutions Engineer at Simba by Magnitude. Simba is the industry choice for standards-based data access and analytics solutions, and for innovation in data connectivity. Our reputation as the connectivity pioneer means we’re the preferred partner and our technology is embedded into today’s most popular BI and analytics applications.

What does a day in your work life look like?

I get to work around 7:30-8:00 am, which means it’s 11am on the east coast and 8:30pm in India. I start by going through my inbox and responding to prospects’ technical questions by email. I may have to discuss an issue with our developers/managers for timelines or run a new feature discussion by our product manager. My day is never the same, and I don’t always know what it will have in store. Recently I started to manage accounts for two of our clients. If I have questions from companies in India, I want to catch them before they get to sleep. For east coast clients, I want to make sure I get to them before the end of their day.

What excites you most about tech?

That it’s evolving and growing. What I imagine possible today is a speck compared to what will be possible.

Anything else about your story that you would like to share?

This one is a little personal. I met my husband at BCIT. So, thanks BCIT! I feel that this is the best relationship I have ever had. We got married and I can’t make up my mind; do I change my last name or keep Dobrianskaia?

Nadia was BCIT’s 2016 Outstanding Student Leadership Award recipient.

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