Milena: On Mentorship, Purpose, and Books

We all know there is a unique brand of people who can, without even trying, make others gather around and follow their lead. We could call them leaders, mentors, dreamers, but those words do not fully explain thе special quality that is able to bring minds together and position the purpose above all else, while at the same time never forgetting the human side of things.

Milena Georgieva, a Technical Lead and the local manager for Scalefocus Academy in Burgas, is an example of just that. During the last eight months, Milena's expertise has been dedicated to developing the young minds of the IT specialists of tomorrow and to going ahead with an unstoppable force. She joins Scalefocus after spending some time in the United Kingdom. "I was offered the chance to work for the company in a city with amazingly intelligent people. Мy focused role is currently on mentorship, as well as on taking part in the building processes, concept, and learning materials. Besides Scalefocus Academy, I've worked with universities in Burgas with the aim of helping students jump more quickly into the workforce after graduation."

The seaside has always been a home to Milena.

Born and raised in Varna and later moving to Burgas (“for love”), she has spent some of her time living in other countries, last one UK. "When you find yourself in another country, even with your family beside you, you are starting all over - your friendships, social circle. I realized I was missing the human connection that is unique in Bulgaria, and when I learned about the position at Scalefocus, I didn't hesitate much." At her current office, she only needs to move her head a little to gaze at the sea. "One of the things I have yet to see from my desk at the office is the falling snow above the seawater."

Curiously enough, her professional journey starts in tourism. "I've been working since I was 16, and for about 15 years, I had different positions in the tourism sector. I later decided I needed something different, and I went after my other passion - IT, computers. I studied software engineering and realized that software development was something extraordinary in the sense that you are solving problems for people and can actually change lives with your work."

Studying foreign languages can be a hobby.

Finding that first job in IT was not quick and easy, but since then, she has not stopped developing and learning. "I managed to learn a lot in a short time and grow in my position. In the UK, I stepped into the Technical Lead shoes for the first time, and it was stressful in the beginning, but the time there was what gave me the edge I needed to give the best in my work now." She continually shares her practical knowledge with her trainees. She is absolutely sure that

each step of her professional journey has given her the push to the next stage.

"My inspiration to be a mentor to people started early on, while I was still in university and had mandatory hours of teaching practice. That's where I realized this is kind of my thing, and it comes easy to me. A lot of my incentive to mentor comes from my desire to help fill the gap between knowledge and practice that almost everybody feels when they start out after university. Later on, I worked as a mentor to children who wanted to learn programming in a foundation called "A Chance for the Children of Bulgaria." The so-called gap between theory and practice is something Milena insists is the most important "piece to fill" in the puzzle.

Аnother thing she shares from her long practice is that "to make a team productive, the two most important things are communication and knowledge-sharing. First and foremost, we do it by personal example - being open to dialogue at any point during the day (and night) and making that known to people. They need to know they can ask me anything, anytime and that I will be there when they do. The second thing I always say is -

there are no stupid questions, only stupid answers.

We all go through life not-knowing, and asking is important. Sharing the knowledge you have is even more important, and I strive to do it every time I can."

Some favorite items at home.

And how does she deal with demotivated people? "During the current crisis, there were a couple of occurrences where I had to speak to people who felt demotivated. What I did was simply assure them that everyone is doing their best; the company is still progressing, so we must as well, and all of us need to do anything we can to keep our heads up."

She is convinced she is an introvert - "because I love spending time alone" - even though people around her disagree. Milena can walk in anyone's shoes, which helps with staying close to people in daily work. As for daily motivation? "I try to start each day by telling myself -

I'm going to have fun - with every task and meeting I have on the agenda."

Milena's hobbies are impressive as she is - "I love learning new languages; I find it recharging. Besides my mother tongue, I speak French, German, English, Dutch. I am currently studying Spanish." She also reads a lot - "my library is huge, and I read all kinds of literature, from astrophysics to biology, sci-fi literature, to Umberto Eco and Stephen Hawking. Charles Dickens is one of my favorite authors as well - he can make me laugh and cry in the space of one page." She loves sports ("it's like a physical necessity to me") and walking 10-11 kilometers a day, 5-6 days a week.

Her family's cat, Iv, is also one of the things that relaxes her - Milena says he has the best, mellow character and is one of the best things that have happened in the last year.

Besides а Java specialist, a mentor, and a TL, one of Milena's "side passions" is data science. "It was the focus of my Ph.D., and if I had to say what other path I would choose, it would be in that direction. Data science is something that can influence and change lives. Even if we look at the current pandemic, it is still one of the essential instruments we can use after it is all over.

Through technology, we can learn and find ways to manage better in the future, to make conclusions, and find powerful lessons."

Data science, Milena says, is one of the most helpful tools in causes like global education and developing people's potential in poorer countries as well. In the technological world, the other groundbreaking things, she states, are machine learning and IoT. "Their effect on the world is going to change everything we know - hopefully, for the better."

Meanwhilе, she shares her advice for the next generation of IT specialists, mentors, and innovators.

It's pretty simple, and it says: "Keep learning, from here to eternity!" Want to meet more People of Scale? Check out the story of Nadia.

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