Exclusive Interview (Anahit Pogosova)

There’s Actually Very Little That You Can Not Do – Anahit Pogosova – Exclusive Interview With Our Cloud Thought Leader

Anahit Pogosova is Whizlabs‘ one of the 150 Cloud Thought Leader and New Generation Leader of 2021. She is a Lead Cloud Software Engineer at Solita, one of Finland’s largest digital transformation companies. She is an AWS Data Hero and has been architecting and building software solutions with various customers for over a decade. From monolithic on-prem software to the cloud, Anahit is focusing mostly on AWS Data and Serverless services. Even during her busy schedule, she finds time to speak at various local and international events. She also writes about AWS on Solita developers’ blog and has been a frequent guest on various podcasts.

Follow Anahit Pogosova on Twitter and LinkedIn

Anahit has been working with AWS Kinesis Data Streams for many years. She has penned down her knowledge into two articles for her followers and colleagues as Mastering AWS Kinesis Data Streams Part 1 and Part 2.

It’s time to get to know Anahit Pogosova a little more today!

1. What was your first job?

I worked as a researcher at the university while doing my second master’s degree in computer science. A lot of digging deep into things, some coding in Matlab. Good old times!

2. How will you describe your journey to become a successful professional in Cloud Computing?

The term “Brownian motion” is the first thing that comes to mind. It hasn’t been a straight line at all, starting on the more scientific side of things, as a researcher, then working as a software developer with a multitude of roles fitting into that one title. I have been trying different things and looking for something that will spark joy, so to speak. And it ended up being cloud computing and AWS, at least for now.

3. When did you actually realize your true love for Cloud Computing?

At some point several years ago my company offered to take a course in AWS. Before that, I pretty much knew nothing about it. I was doing the “traditional” on-prem software development. So, when I first found out there was this completely different world, I was thrilled and blown away! My first thought was: do others know about this?! Since then, I have completely moved to the cloud and didn’t ever look back. I guess you can call it love at first sight 🙂 

4. Walk us through your journey of first ever certification in the field of cloud computing? How did you make that decision?

It pretty much coincided with the beginning of my cloud journey, while the first course I took led me to my first AWS certification. Since then, I realized that for me certification works as a great motivator to expand my knowledge beyond what I’m exposed to in my day-to-day work.

5. Globally recognized cloud thought leadership comes with lots of responsibility. What is your advice for your followers?

I would say the single most important thing is finding your passion. And to do that, you often need to start small, try out and expose yourself to many different things. You shouldn’t be afraid to jump from one track to the other and start something completely new. Of course, like most good things, this may require some time and effort, but I believe that it is all worth it.

I also believe that you can’t do it all alone. The support of the community is extremely important. Build relationships, be active and give back whenever you can.

6. Being a woman in the fastest growing tech industry is not an easy task. What is it like to be a cloud thought leader?

To be fair, I think it is not an easy task for anyone. That being said, while there are still too few of us women in the industry, I feel the responsibility for representing, and at the same time encouraging other women. But if anything, it has only motivated me more, given me that little extra bit of perseverance. Of course, I can’t speak on behalf of all the women but only share my personal experience.

7. Do you have any special advice for all Women In Tech?

I truly hope someday soon we won’t need to use that term anymore and there will be no need to make a separation between genders in tech, or anywhere else for that matter. My advice would be the same, no matter the gender: don’t let any label or any other person define you or set your limits.

8. Everyone now knows that cloud computing is the future. What do you think?

I think it’s for sure the present and if you are not on that wagon yet, well, consider getting on it really soon. It is becoming a staple skill for almost any IT job. And, of course, it’s also fun! What comes to the future, I think I’m safe to say that the cloud is not going anywhere any time soon. But we will probably see more diversity with things like hybrid cloud.

9. It’s a beautiful thing when a career and passion come together. What was your passion while growing up? Is your career connected to it?

I guess I have been lucky that way. I knew pretty early on what I wanted to do when I grew up. I saw my first PC at the age of 6, and had no idea what else I could do with it other than drawing in Paintbrush and playing simple games, but I was fascinated! At school, math was my favorite subject, and I was delighted to find out that the two are actually connected. I remember my dad explaining to me how programming works (he was a physicist and used to code in Fortran back then), and remember the first time I experienced the magic of the Internet (dial-up modems, anyone?). Though I wasn’t coding as a kid, it all just felt innate to me once I got to it during my university years.

10. Anyone who follows you would love to become you (or better than you) at some point, and many of them will be confused on how to start or where to start. Can you share some of the obstacles you have faced at the beginning and the ways you have overcome those?

I think wanting to become better and grow is the single most important thing. You don’t need to become someone else though, why would you if you can just be yourself?

To tell the truth, the main obstacles for me have always been in my own head: being afraid of change, self-doubt, and the good old imposter syndrome. I’ve come to realize that those are the things many people are struggling with. I’m still struggling with those on a daily basis myself. But the only way to overcome them that has worked for me is really simple: just do things. It’s like the fear of heights (which by the way I also have) and exposure therapy: I just go and climb that mountain. And you know what I’ve noticed? I have never regretted it afterward.

Anahit Pogosova’s favourite quote is “If you are the smartest person in the room, then you are in the wrong room. – Confucius”

11. A good leader is someone who never stops learning and is always willing to un-learn anything if needed. What are your valuable learnings and un-learnings during your journey to a thought leader?

I think the main learning would be, there’s actually very little that you cannot do. It’s all about the amount of time and effort you are willing to put into it.

I also learned to say yes, even if it feels uncomfortable. Especially if it feels uncomfortable! When asked to do something new, my knee-jerk reaction is almost always: no way! Then I take a couple of deep breaths and just dive into it. I haven’t always succeeded, but I have always ended up learning something from the experience.

Oh, and never say never! I have had so many “I never want to do X in my life!” statements, that I know by now, serve no purpose, except for making you laugh at yourself afterward.

12. In your words, tell us the leadership skills that everyone should learn?

I think the most important thing is to always remain authentic, humble, and emphatic, especially if you are someone people are looking up to. You need to learn to ask for help, to admit when you don’t know something, to admit when you are wrong. It’s ok not to know. There are always people who are smarter than you or better than you at something. Feeling like you don’t know it all can really be a hard pill to swallow! But that’s the only way to grow.

From the more practical skills, I think time management and self-leadership is something that everyone would benefit from. Realizing that your time is a limited resource and trying to only focus that resource on the things that matter to you.

13. What is that one thing which motivates you to become better and better every day?

If I have to choose just one thing, it would be passion. I care deeply about the quality of my work and staying relevant as a professional. There’s a voice inside my head that says that I can always do more. And the more I grow, the more I can help others: the customers, colleagues, community in general.

14. Other than personal learning, what are you currently learning in the technical field? Any new field of interest?

I constantly try to learn something new related to AWS. Luckily, this pretty much is an endless process, while they come up with new services and features all the time.

From the not-so-technical side of things, something that I try to improve at and that I feel would benefit me a lot is my storytelling skills. 

15. If we dare to ask, how would you rate the following cloud providers – AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, Alibaba cloud.

I wouldn’t dare to answer that one, would I? They all have their strengths, otherwise, they wouldn’t be around. For me personally, AWS is the cloud provider of choice. I think there are good reasons for it to be the market leader at the moment.

16. You are already a cloud thought leader, which is an aim many are having right now. What is your next goal?

I have never expected to become a cloud thought leader, so I guess I really don’t know what else can be coming my way, right? My goal has always been to become better, learn, improve, grow, and help others to do the same. Things worked out pretty well so far, so I guess I’ll stick to that for now 🙂

Thank you so much Anahit Pogosova for your valuable time! Keep inspiring the women and new generation with your expertise. We wish you all the best for your future endavours.

About Pavan Gumaste

Pavan Rao is a programmer / Developer by Profession and Cloud Computing Professional by choice with in-depth knowledge in AWS, Azure, Google Cloud Platform. He helps the organisation figure out what to build, ensure successful delivery, and incorporate user learning to improve the strategy and product further.

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