Radostina Kondakova is a Technology Team Lead in Scalefocus’ cybersecurity team. Radi’s been with the company for two years, and even though her journey started in the financial sector, she says she’s found her “calling” with IT and cybersecurity in particular. Read more what Radostina, our Person of Scale for August, shares about herself.
On who she is personally
I recently turned 29 years old. I am half Bulgarian, half Belarusian, and I was born in Dobrich, a town I love very much, but I like to look at myself as a citizen of the world because I love traveling and meeting people from different nationalities.
I began my career journey in the IT sector a little bit as a joke. Ever since school, I was engulfed in studying finance, financial management, and economics, and I had a dream of becoming a financial consultant or a broker. It was what I studied at university, too, but soon I realized it was not my calling in life.
Once I was with some friends of mine who were long-term developers, I told them I had the desire to try in the IT sector. They joked that it was not a trade for "pretty girls." But I decided, stubbornly, to try, I completed a master's degree, several courses, and academies, and soon realized I found what I was looking for.
My modest experience of several years includes time as a developer, Manual Tester, Automation QA, PM and now - cybersecurity. It was "love at first sight" - I went to my mentor and told him this was what I wanted to do; it's my calling. He, in turn, made everything in his power to help me develop it. Thank you, Chocho! I've been at Scalefocus for almost two years and currently, I'm a Technical Team Lead of the Cybersecurity Team. If my position can be described in three words, it would be: dynamic, learning, inspiring.
On why she likes her team at Scalefocus
Because even though it's small, there are truly fascinating people in it and every day with them is an adventure. Together we grow, and they inspire me to learn and give more of myself every day.
On the qualities needed to be in cybersecurity
To do this job, a person needs to have more than several important qualities. In our business, it's vital to be adaptive and ambitious, because the work is super dynamic, and you need to be able to quickly react in different situations. But in order to truly be a good lead, in my opinion, you should not underestimate one particular quality - tolerance. A good manager should talk to people and help them find special abilities that distinguish them as good specialists in their area.
On overcoming doubts and fears
My first rule is to try not to panic. Instead, I strive to think and look at the situation from different angles. Sometimes I seek several different opinions from people who are close to me (when it's not about work). And when it's something work-related, I am thankful to have capable mentors and managers at Scalefocus, who always help me make the right decision.
Risk is something that usually leads to a win, but it's important to be within reasonable limits.
My work at Scalefocus demands quick reactions and decisions, but my decision to retrain myself and go work in another sector is the biggest risk I've ever taken.
I gave up my job in the USA, where I was an assistant manager responsible for the salaries of the employees. I came back to Bulgaria, with the firm decision to start over. This risk paid off completely.
On technology & work
Lately, for a number of reasons, I am not able to do so much technical work at Scalefocus, but overall, my technical focus is mostly on SSDLC SecOps, all kinds of automation and Risk & Compliance. The technologies are quite diverse and comprehensive, as security is involved at all levels in the development process.
Many things inspire me because I am a creative person at heart. For work, I find inspiration in various books, or I find it by following people in the industry who have succeeded in specific areas and observing what they share. I get inspired also by simply looking at my colleagues.
I love nature and animals (I have a cat and a dog!). One of my all-time favorite things is to travel, and I always find time to do it. I like getting to know the world and the people in new places. Also, I love sports and experimenting with more unusual stuff like windsurfing & wakeboarding. But on a daily basis, I go to the gym, yoga, spinning, and I visit the mountains.
I try to lead a balanced lifestyle and not to overdo it, and everything is moderate, of course, it doesn't always work out, but still one of my favorite things after a hard day is to sit down to play with my pets or talk to my fiancé. To be honest, if it weren't for them, I would have a hard time with the pandemic.
I also love to paint; this is one of my few childhood passions that I have kept. For a long time, I devoted time and effort to learn how to do it, today it remains a hobby.
On advice for people now starting in the field
To be in cybersecurity, you need to be persistent, brave, and patient, to aim high and not to give up, even if people do not believe in you.
It is essential to believe in yourself and your abilities.
After all, a craft is not learned, but stolen, which takes time, and for our generation, patience is not a virtue.
On life lessons
Life is the best teacher. I've lived through some hard lessons, like when I got sick with a severe infectious disease that endangered my life, or when I got burn-out when I was 23.
It made me realize how much I value my health, my family, and that nothing in life should be chased "at any cost".
Things changed a lot during the last months. At the beginning of the quarantine, I worked overtime and on the weekends. Now things have returned to normal, and I think that all of us have managed to get back to a normal rhythm. I did not have a problem with isolation - probably because I still have a memory from the time in my past when I was isolated for 60 days in a hospital.
On daily life
Now, I try and find time to get out more, move more. My days pass quickly, with conversations with many people, since our team is quite needed. I communicate with the guys from the team, especially with Stoyan, our architect, with sales colleagues, delivery managers, other colleagues, clients, and people from the board. The rest of the time, I try to catch up with my work, the work related to the development and development of the team, our portfolio of services, vision, and strategy for the development of colleagues, as well as the positioning of our team at Scalefocus in the cybersecurity market. To meet Dyanko, the doctor who became an iOS Practice Lead, click HERE.