Snezana Zivcevska-Stalpers: “I was a little bit jealous of people working for a famous international tech company”

You might know this feeling: you see the office of a company you love, and you secretly envy the people that actually get to walk there every day, just to go to work for this amazing company. Snezana Zivcevska-Stalpers definitely felt that way, and now she works for her dream famous international tech company.


You work for a famous international tech company, did you always wanted to work there?

Prior I worked for another Dutch consulting firm based in The Hague. At that time I lived in Slotervaart (part of Amsterdam) and not very far away from the building of this famous international tech company in Amsterdam. So every morning on my way to The Hague I was passing by the building of a famous international tech company. And every time when the traffic light at the crossroad at the building was red, I would look at the people who were crossing the street going to work there thinking how lucky they were to work for such a big name. And I wanted so much to be one of them.

It was October 2006 when I got a call from a recruiter, he asked me if I would be interested to work for an international consulting company in Amsterdam, they were looking for EAI (Enterprise Application Integration) consultants and they wanted to have more female talent onboard. I didn’t even wait for him to finish his sentence so I asked: is that may be this famous international tech company? After getting his positive answer, I said YES I am interested. I went through the whole recruitment process passing all the interviews and in December 2006 I joined them.

What do you like so much about technology?

My love for technology started at very early age. My father was a technician and I was always fascinated by the way he was solving the technical problems. I was also very curious as a kid and I always wanted to know how the equipment in the house worked. So I always have my WHY and HOW questions about everything. On the other side, math and physics were my favorite subjects at school, so for me it was not difficult to decide which subjects to choose in high school, Beta subsects. Later I studied Computer Science at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering. After my graduation, I moved to The Netherlands where I was offered a job at an international telecom company. And ever since then, the year 2000, I am in tech.

Which tech tools do you use in your work?

My last project was about the implementation of Workday for HR management at an international bank in NL. In 2018 I was also a manager of a project for a Dutch retailer which was about the implementation of Security Identity and Access Management software. In 2017 I worked on a project at another Dutch retailer which was about the implementation of complex SAP application. As a Project Manager I am not directly using these tools/software products but I rather have high level knowledge and understanding.

My work as a project manager is consisted of management the process and the communication with the implementation team and the client, acting as a bridge between the two. Tools that I usually use for my direct work are the tools for communication: email, chatting programs, conference or video calls, webex, etc. For project related documents I usually use Box tool, although it can vary based on the client preferences. Project reporting is usually done using already prepared templates or in a form of PowerPoint presentations. For the process of on- and off-boarding of people at a project I use BlueRoom cloud application. The task management it can be Track and Plan on Cloud but also just an Excel Sheet. The good thing is that I have all these (and many other tools) available on my laptop but also on my mobile phone which helps a lot to be flexible in my work.

What do you do ? And you also work for the United Nations, what do you do?

I am currently holding the position of a Project Manager in the area of Cloud Application Innovation and I am managing projects at various clients in The Netherlands and in Europe. I started at this famous international tech company 12 years ago as an Advisory IT Specialist. Then I moved into Business Process Management and since 4 years ago I am into Project Management. In all these years at this famous international tech company I have worked on a wide range of projects, from big transition & transformations of IT landscapes to small but agile projects. Some of them were award-winning.

In 2016 UN Women had an open call for champions for change for women’s economic empowerment. Following my passion for diversity & inclusion, I submitted my application. After going through a whole process of proving my passion I was selected as one of the 170 global champions out of 4000 candidates worldwide. As a UN Women Champion for Change I am involved and I participate in various projects, initiatives, programs, campaigns, which purpose is building awareness towards taking concrete actions in achieving gender equality in working places, communities, organizations and the societies. I am particularly active in advocating for more women and girls in tech. Reaching gender equality by 2030 is one of the 17 UN goals for sustainable development of the world and it is marked as goal number 5.

Are there any milestones you are very proud of?

There are few things that had happened to me in the last couple of years that I have been very proud of:

Awarded for Delivery of Excellence in 2015 and 2016 for my work at this famous international tech company

Winner of the Impact Award from the renown Dutch female magazine Opzij 2016 in the category ‘Women who influence the society from their informal position breaking the formal barriers by using their knowledge, experience, time and capabilities to influence’

Nominated for the National VIVA400 Award 2016 and 2017 for one of the most inspiring women of The Netherlands in the category ‘World Improvers’ and in the category ‘Smart Brains’

Finalist for the award Ethnical Business Woman of NL 2018 in the category manager

Finalist for the award Global Digital Female Leader 2018 in the category diversity

What are the trends you see in your line of work?

The current tech trend in my area is data, data and even more data helping predicting all kinds of behaviors. Data is the new oil. In the next years there will also be big developments in the area of AI and Robotics. Blockchaing is also expected to be more and more adopted. Having 5G network on the market will definitely push forward more developments in the area of IoT. And when talking about IoT we should not forget the importance of advanced developments in the area of security.

As a Project Manager, it is important to mention that the role of a traditional manager is slowly but surely disappearing. Managers are becoming leaders, and they have the role to support and empower the teams. Micromanagement is not anymore a way for task and progress management. The team members are not only technically strong but they are also responsible for finishing the tasks they have within the agreed time-frame and with expected quality. In working environments where Agile is adopted as a working methodology, there are agile coaches and scrum masters but not any more managers.

Is this IT world different for women than it is for men?

The ICT in The Netherlands and in the world is a man’s world. According to the Dutch Bureau for Statistics from 2018 only 10% of the employees in ICT sector in NL are women. That also means that ICT world is mostly ruled by the men: it is competitive rather than collaborative, the big companies are competing who will make more profit, who will win more contracts at clients, instead of having more sustainable business models and being more innovative in order to solving crucial problems of the world and the humanity.

The situation at the entry level jobs is more gender-balanced and both genders get equal opportunities for career development. The inequality comes later when women decide to make family and get kids. At that moment they usually decide to work part-time or stop with work for a certain period of time. That is the moment when men make significant difference advancing their careers also enlarging the pay gap.

What do you love about your job?

I usually say that I am very blessed to live in this historical time (beginning of the 21 century) because I can witness the rapid developments of technology and the digital revolution. So the opportunity to learn new things and new technologies by working on different projects is something that I love a lot about my job. But it is not only about technical knowledge, I also have opportunities to develop my personal leadership skills which according to me is even more important. I love the international setting of the projects, working with people from different nationalities and different backgrounds and in that way benefiting from their different points of view. But above all, the most I like is the flexibility we have: flexible working hours, opportunity to work from home, the opportunity for have a part-time job.

What are the less fun parts of your job?

Less nice things are: I work in a male-dominated environment and I feel the male energy everywhere around which sometimes can be really toxic. I also don’t like that people can sometimes be very biased in making their decisions. And the fact that more I grow with the career it’s becoming more and more competitive.

Any advice for other (wannabe) TechGirls?

My message to every woman or girl who wants to enter the world of ICT: “You must know that it is a privilege to work in ICT, because it means that you are smart, intelligent and creative. And ICT is very broad, it’s not only programming or writing code, you can also do solutioning, design thinking, digital marketing, and many other things. There are opportunities for everybody in the ICT. By working in ICT you can give your contribution in shaping the future of the world and that’s really great, isn’t it. We need more women and girls in ICT, so don’t hesitate but grab the first opportunity you get and join the exciting world of tech. I am sure that later on when you look back you will be very proud of the decision you have made.

What would you like to do in the future?

Becoming a leader of the 21st century is what I am striving for. Senior and executive leadership is my ultimate goal.

Good luck, Snezana!

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