Mums in Tech – feat. Oksana Siniaieva

As part of the ‘Mums in Tech’ series MotherBoard caught up with Oksana Siniaieva, Software Development Engineer at Amazon Web Services.

The purpose of the ‘MotherBoard’ content series is to highlight incredible working mums within tech & data, as well as individuals and businesses that are supportive and progressive within their approach to creating more inclusive tech & data teams for women.

Amber @ MotherBoard: Can you please introduce yourself, your role, and why you feel supporting mums working within tech & data is so important?

Oksana: Hey, I’m Oksana. I am originally from Ukraine but moved to the UK 3 years ago as I secured a new role in AWS.  Overall, I have 7 years of experience as a Java software engineer. I was previously a business analyst but whilst I was on maternity leave, I decided to switch to software engineering.

The modern world pushes people to be successful, make good money, build great careers, and be respected in society. This is not easy and it’s very time-consuming. As a result, people are postponing having kids or even deciding to not have them. In this case, there are children whose parents cannot spend enough time with them, this is especially important for mothers. If there is more support for mums, then women will be able to be good mums and as well as successful professionals.

Amber @ MotherBoard: What does a typical work/ parenting day look like for you?

Oksana: Oh, my usual day is quite exhausting actually! Usually, I wake up around 6:30, prepare breakfast for my son, and get him ready for school. This includes double-checking his school uniforms as boys are little piggy monsters! After the school drop-off, I start work at 9.30am and finish at around 18.30. During this time, I concentrate on my work, as well as our house duties like the never-ending laundry, the groceries delivery to save time, and preparing our evening meals.

My husband is responsible for picking up my son from school, feeding him, making sure he has changed his clothes, and attending his after-school clubs. We choose remote classes or tutors to come to our house for time-saving purposes. From 7 to about 9 pm we are doing homework: reading, spelling, maths, or science.  I try to have at least half an hour of just talking time with my son or playing. Let me be open with you, sometimes we are so tired, that we decide to just watch some cartoons instead of doing homework! But yes, in most cases I’m doing homework with my son every evening unless I’m on-call with work.

Thank God we have remote positions in tech as I would never be able to manage all of the above if I had to go to the office every day! However, with hybrid working and the number of days that we are required back in the office gradually increasing, my tight schedule completely, unfortunately, is starting to crack.

Amber @ MotherBoard: How have you managed to build a successful career, whilst also embarking on motherhood and what challenges have you faced in finding a balance?

Oksana: I rethought my life and career perspective once I became a mum. I started learning Java first and then took a course. It was extremely difficult: I had to do my homework at night between breastfeeding, and my son had been waking up about 10 times a night! I also had to leave my baby with my neighbour as I had to go to Java classes an hour before any of my relatives could take care of my baby.

So, to sum up, there wasn’t any balance between work and being mum for me, unfortunately, and it’s still hardly manageable. However, I don’t want to be only a mum and wife, I want to be an example of success for my son too. I want him to be proud of me and believe I have expertise in something really cool, so that he will actually want to hear my opinion about some stuff in his life, hopefully!

Amber @ MotherBoard: What is the hardest moment you have had as a mum whilst at work?

Oksana: The hardest part is that I don’t have enough time and energy to just sit, talk, and play around with my son. Unfortunately, in most cases, I have to prioritize my job first. Time is running so fast and very soon I will dream of just walking and holding my son’s hand, but he will be an adult, and this won’t be possible anymore. I find it so sad, that my son has to wait until the weekend to spend some real time with me as I promised him, we will have a picnic, just the two of us.

Amber @ MotherBoard: What do you think businesses need to do to support mums working in tech & data better?

Oksana: Remote working – it is, by far, the best thing I have tried when trying to balance work and home life – it is extremely helpful. Also, I have heard about the trend to switch to a 4-day week working schedule.  I have never tried to not work Fridays, but I assume this is extremely helpful to have the extra day at the weekends! Could this be something more tech companies try?

Amber @ MotherBoard: What do you think the government needs to do to make it easier for mums to balance a career and parenting?

Oksana: In the Ukraine we had a scheme that was very helpful to parents, however, it’s not actually a government initiative. At schools, especially in primary school, it’s very common for parents to be able to pay some money to teachers to look after their children for an hour or two longer after school to do all their homework together with the teacher. I have asked for a similar service in a UK school, but I have been told that they are unable to provide this sort of service. I think something like that would be very helpful for busy parents like me and this would give an opportunity for teachers to make some extra money!

Amber @ MotherBoard: Do you have any final words of advice to our readers about balancing being a mum and having a successful career?

Oksana: I would say, just try your best to balance – we are all human. It’s extremely important to be a mum, to spend time with your children, support them with their studying and just communicate. But it is also as equally important to get to where you want to with your career. Ask for support from your employer, ask about flexible and part-time working.

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