During my time in Toronto, Canada at the beginning of this year, I had the pleasure of meeting some interesting people. One of them was Tereza who works in IT. Hearing that I am a trainer in business communication skills, she shared how much such training helped her professionally and personally. I captured her thoughts in the following interview later.
By Shivanthi Sandrasagra, April 27, 2020
1) Could you please tell us a little about yourself?
I am Tereza, I currently work in Cloud Computing. I studied Computer Science Co-op with Business Option at the University of Waterloo in Canada. During my time at university, I had several co-op placements in my field, working for banks, a graphics company, a social network, and an AI company. I worked in Toronto, Waterloo and San Francisco. These were great places where I gained valuable experience in different fields in the Software industry. After university, I worked for a Human Capital Management software company, as well as in Cloud Computing.
I enjoy programming, learning new technologies, presenting at conferences, as well as entrepreneurship.
2) When did you first come in contact with soft skills training? And what was your initial reaction to it?
It was in university, when I took some soft skills courses, as part of my co-op program. I learned about management of projects and people, conflict resolution, as well as writing. The workload in school was very high, and I initially thought it would be overwhelming to start learning soft skills, in addition to the difficult Math and Computing courses I had.
I was surprised to find that soft skills courses had a very positive impact on my studies. Team projects started to feel easier to handle and therefore faster to complete because of improved communication, and school became more enjoyable, as I developed stronger bonds with my classmates.
3) When you moved out of the academic world and started your profession, was it common to see soft skills training offered, at least in the different companies you worked for?
I noticed that some companies offered soft skills training, and some didn’t. Those that train their staff on soft skills do better because employees collaborate well in their daily work as a result of the training. More engaged employees and enhanced communication leads to faster project delivery, and an increase in revenue.
4) What main types of soft skills training have you received up to now?
In my work, I received training in the areas of preparing presentations, writing and teamwork.
5) Some people may ask why an IT specialist is required to have presentation skills. Could you explain?
Of course, presentation skills are very important in my job. Presenting our work deliverables to our team and other teams are the first priority. When we work on coding, we innovate and what we innovate needs to be communicated to others, especially at conferences. I have been to various conferences and have had to present at them. Before presenting, we have to structure our ideas in a way that is logical and easy to understand; this skill is obviously very useful for formal presentations as well as in our day-to-day work.
6) And why would an IT specialist need to have writing skills?
Besides coding, we also have to write comments on the coding. We also prepare documentation. These tasks are an essential part of software development.
7) Also, some people think IT specialists just work alone, so they don’t need to have teamwork skills. What can you tell them?
Yes, we do work alone, but at the end of the day, we need to bring together everyone’s work; we need to discuss with each other to understand the big picture and purpose and how our individual work fits into it.
8) We are convinced about how soft skills have helped you progress professionally. What about on the personal level?
I have become a confident person, learned to take initiative and also, to take my career into my own hands.