Interviews and Reviews

Breaking Barriers: Viktoria Dolzhenko, Team Lead, a Woman at the Forefront of Blockchain and Technology

In a groundbreaking shift, women are rising to prominence in the once male-dominated realms of finance and technology. The revolution is led by innovative industries like blockchain and cryptocurrency, which are reshaping finance and leading the charge for gender equality. These industries, with their potential to empower individuals to seize control of their financial destinies and personal data, are at the forefront of technological advancement. Meet an inspiring woman, Viktoria Dolzhenko, who, as the only female Team lead at Itez, is driving the progress of blockchain technology forward.

Viktoria, a remarkable Team Lead at Itez, a dynamic blockchain startup headquartered in Vilnius, Lithuania, has achieved significant milestones in her career. With over a decade of experience, she has effectively developed, upgraded, and managed intricate, high-capacity systems, including cryptocurrency exchanges, biometric data access systems, and operational processing systems. Her leadership has been instrumental in Itez’s success, with a thriving customer base of over 5,000 and a team of 80 professionals from around the globe.

Ms. Dolzhenko, you’re the only female Team Lead at Itez. What drove you to pursue your current career path?

I began considering my career path around the same age as most children, around 7-8 years old. At that young age, I confidently declared my future as a programmer, although the exact inspiration behind that choice eludes me now. What is remarkable, however, is the accuracy of my childhood proclamation. As I matured, it became increasingly evident that I possessed a natural talent for the exact sciences and computer technology, characterized by a cyclic way of thinking. This innate ability allowed me, even in my early years, to devise remarkably efficient and elegant algorithms during my computer science classes. Over time, this passion for understanding the essence of things grew, leading me to develop a deep appreciation for the natural sciences and microbiology. I reveled in the meticulous unraveling of how things function, a fascination that continues to drive me to craft exquisite, meticulously designed architectural solutions.

You started your career at the largest retailer in Russia, Svyaznoy. In eight months as a Team Lead, you implemented a project for online calculation of bonuses for 14 thousand people, which they had been unable to do in two years before hiring you. What has helped you to achieve such success?

At the start of my career, being young and bold helped me. Looking back, I’m surprised that my boss trusted me with a big project to calculate the salaries of 14,000 employees. Maybe I wasn’t scared because I didn’t fully understand how big the job was. I was entrusted with a strategically important project for the company – an online calculation of retail bonuses. It involved developing a system that would calculate and display a bonus for a retail employee immediately after they sold a product. Our company became the first major retailer to implement such a system.

I’ve always been confident and willing to take on challenging projects, believing I could do anything I set my mind to. But sometimes, I was too pushy and demanding of others. Almost ten years later, I’ve kept my adventurous spirit but learned to be smoother in my approach.

Viktoria, your deep knowledge and extensive experience have helped several startups succeed. What is the most exciting project you’ve developed, in your opinion?

One of the most fascinating projects I’ve worked on is the development of Itez’s backend using .NET. Traditionally, blockchain development leans towards JavaScript or TypeScript due to the abundance of libraries for various blockchains in these languages. However, I opted for .NET (C#) for Itez’s backend because I found this framework and language more advantageous for constructing intricate backend systems. This decision was based on several factors: .NET’s robust typing system provides better compile-time error checking, improving code reliability and maintainability. Additionally, C# offers many powerful features, such as LINQ for querying data, which streamlines development and enhances code readability. Moreover, the extensive ecosystem of tools and libraries available for .NET simplifies integration with other systems and services, reducing development time and effort. Despite the unconventional choice, developing Itez’s backend on .NET proved successful, showcasing the flexibility and robustness of the platform for blockchain applications.

Your work on Itez’s backend systems is truly impressive. You’ve created and maintained nearly all these systems, simultaneously managing over six microservices. What are your duties right now?

In addition to directly leading my team, I am responsible for creating architectural solutions for our company and serving on the technical board, where we make key decisions regarding the use of technologies or patterns across all our system services. Under my leadership, a crucial part of our system, which is responsible for integration with payment providers and exchanges, has been implemented. This product allows us to significantly increase the number of tradable currencies and enhance payment method diversity, including credit cards, Google Pay, and others. Our IT department and systems are reorganizing, and I am leading this initiative. My team and I have recently released a new product—a blockchain wallet with a mobile application. I was responsible for designing this system and supervising its development.

Viktoria, thank you. Your story and social work may inspire many women who are afraid of choosing a career in programming. 

I’m passionate about conducting webinars for women in programming as well. I aim to create a welcoming space in these sessions to share knowledge, insights, and experiences. My goal is to help empower women in tech and contribute to building a more inclusive and diverse community. I also see these webinars as an opportunity to learn from the participants. Their unique perspectives and experiences enrich our discussions and help us grow as professionals. By coming together as a community, I believe we can overcome challenges, break down barriers, and create a more inclusive tech industry for everyone. Thank you for inviting me.

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