While there has been an increase in women’s employment in the tech industry in recent years, they make up less than a third of the world’s workforce in this sector. Is this job the right fit for me?”, “Will I handle it?”, “Which path should I take to pursue professional fulfilment? As part of the Tech Leaders project, the leaders at Sabre Poland provide answers to these and many other questions, motivating women to start their careers in IT and enhance their skills in this sector.

Anna Szwiec, Małgorzata Zabieglińska-Lupa, Celestyna Nowak-Pedrak, Monika Strachel, and Magdalena Gondek are actively working to support women in the IT industry through their engagement in the Tech Leaders mentoring program. Explore their motivation to advocate for others and which aspects of the program they consider most valuable.

IT Program for Women

Tech Leaders is a four-month, cost-free mentoring initiative intended for women aiming to kickstart a career or boost their skills in the IT sector and emerging technologies. Yet, it extends beyond that scope. The program is equally accessible to individuals with entrepreneurial ideas or those already running their businesses related to these areas. The initiative was introduced in 2015 as part of the Women in Technology organisation – a community focused on advancing the professional skills of its members, empowering women in leadership roles, and advocating for diversity.

One of the co-founders of Tech Leaders, Anna Szwiec, Manager of Product Management at Sabre, recalls the beginnings of the initiative:

As we launched the Tech Leaders program, women in the IT field were a considerable minority.  While there has been an increase in female representation in new technologies, achieving a gender balance remains a challenge. Our mentoring initiative was created to equalise these opportunities and transform the perception of this ‘male-dominated world’. Moreover, reflecting on these past few years, we have certainly played a role in driving change. Continuing our efforts, we remain committed to achieving more in this area. Despite the increasing number of women joining the IT field each year, we still observe entrenched misconceptions hindering their development and career growth. Tech Leaders represents a safe space for personal and professional development for these women.

The program initiated by Women in Technology was designed to cover a wide range of IT-related areas. This is reflected in the diverse expertise of our mentors, spanning areas such as UX/UI, programming, product and project management, QA, Agile, and DevOps. This also includes marketing and brand-building areas, allowing program participants to excel in various roles and receive professional assistance irrespective of their career stage.

The role of female mentoring

The nuances of women’s needs, uncertainties, and questions in pursuing IT careers are best comprehended by fellow women on a similar professional journey. Therefore, the Tech Leaders project aimed to create an initiative to provide a free and safe space to exchange experiences between participants and their mentors. According to the leaders from Sabre Poland involved in the program, it was not only necessary but also highly desirable in the market – evident in the project’s growing popularity year by year. In 2022, the organisation received 646 applications for the program, and just a year later, there were 1377 more. What do our colleagues at Sabre consider the initiative’s greatest value?

Undoubtedly, the opportunity to exchange experiences with others has proved that even a simple conversation can spark brilliant ideas. Bringing together two different viewpoints or personal backgrounds often accelerates our problem-solving capabilities, says Celestyna Nowak-Pędrak, Product Manager at Sabre Polska and adds: – For me, participating in Tech Leaders is more than just mentoring. I am delighted to be part of an initiative that actively drives change and demonstrates to women that technical and technological industries are also for them; they possess the same potential to succeed as men.

Monika Strachel, Principal Technology Program Manager at Sabre Poland, finds immense satisfaction in her mentee’s achievement of set goals.

I believe Tech Leaders is one of the best organised and managed mentoring programs for women in Poland! The organiser’s extensive experience, coupled with considerable market demand for such initiatives, is exemplified by the fact that the ninth edition is ahead of us – says Monika. – I am pleased to be part of it. Building a relationship with my mentee, the opportunity to support her in professional development, and achieving jointly set goals give me enormous satisfaction.

Mentoring – you must give it a try

As noted by Małgorzata Zabieglińska-Lupa, Principal Product Manager at Sabre Poland, everyone can (and, at a particular stage in their professional journey, should) explore the realm of mentoring, just like her. Małgosia had been a mentor at Sabre Poland for some time, but she decided to step out of her comfort zone and try something new. This sparked the idea of getting involved in the Tech Leaders program.

Mentoring is something I truly enjoy. It allows me to leverage my knowledge, skills, and experiences to help others, support them on their journey to success, and contribute to their professional fulfilment. I think anyone starting their adventure in the IT world, corporations, or the broader business field needs such support. Hence, whenever possible, I try to offer it. And it brings me a lot of satisfaction,” remarks Małgorzata Zabieglińska-Lupa.

Magdalena Gondek, Director Program Management at Sabre Poland, shares similar insights in this matter.

For me, being part of the Women in Technology community fosters a sense of belonging and solidarity among women in the industry, and I find this important in the current IT world full of competitiveness. Actively joining a mentorship program as a mentor is a natural next step to helping others. This is also a learning opportunity because mentoring always works both ways! – says Magdalena.

What comes next?

The ninth edition of the program is ahead of us. Its organisers unanimously state that they have vast experience in launching another one, so they are not resting on their laurels. Each subsequent edition incorporates additional initiatives that offer comprehensive support to participants, including mastermind workshops or power skills. The team of organisers continues to grow every year, too, doing their best to keep the project running smoothly with a focus on its core aspects: mentoring, knowledge sharing and community building.

Next year marks the significant 10th edition of the program. If you wish to see the significance of your contribution to the professional growth of other women, do not hesitate to join us now – encourages Anna Szwiec, co-founder of Tech Leaders.