TSW #5 - Kaja Trees

03 December 2012


I am an analyst-architect with a programming background. At work my position is called Solution Architect, but basically I do what is necessary to get things done. Sometimes it means having to deal with a bit of project management, programming and testing, but I consider my strengths to be in analysing processes, requirements and existing software to create a solution that lets the work be done in the best way.

How would you describe yourself with 5 sentences?
I like to prove stereotypes wrong. I am a single mother, yet I am doing absolutely fine growing my son by myself. I am a woman, yet I’ve been said to have scarily precise memory and logic. I am working with technology, yet I also dabble in arts. I am always growing and pushing to change towards a better me.

How did you get involved with technology?
I think my sister’s boyfriend is to blame for this. I had seen some computers before, we always had one at my home since I was 11, but they didn’t really raise my curiosity before. However, when I was 14 or so, my older sister had a boyfriend who was into programming. I liked to sit beside them as he was programming, testing out those programs and tweaking them to work differently. Later, in secondary school, we had a computer class, and I am sure that this experience was the reason why I had such an easy time with it, and got praised by the teacher a lot. When it came to choosing speciality in University, I was confident that I would be good at programming, I knew from my sister’s boyfriend that it is a good job with a growing demand and I believed that it would suit my introverted and shy personality as well, so I chose IT. Since then, during more than ten years in software development, I have grown out of programming myself, somewhat further away from technology even.

What or who inspires you?
The sources for my inspiration are very diverse. For example, for sports, I get the most inspiration from seeing stories about disabled or elderly people who have managed to get fit and overcome their natural weakness. For painting, I get inspiration from within, from some hidden place without words to describe it, but also from nature and everyday life. In IT there are many shining people, some of whom I work with or have worked with in the past, some I have read about in books or articles, seen in videos. In essence, I can find inspiration everywhere around me if I am just open to receive it.

What characteristics have helped you to succeed in technology world?
At first it was my logic, meticulous precision and perfectionism that drove me to give my best to create the solution that was described to me. As I was moving away from writing code, my ability to listen and summarize what I had heard in precise terms became more important. However, all of this is based on ability to learn and grow as circumstances require, to be open to new ways of communicating and novel solutions that have been created, to find ways to use my abilities in new ways.

What was the most important thing that you have learned in the past year and how did you learn it? 
Sometimes it is better to let go.

Just recently I moved out of the apartment that I own and where I had lived for past 8 and half years. It was cozy and peaceful and I loved living there. However, as it happens, my son’s school, swimming class, my gym and office, all were quite a ways away from there, yet close together. We had to ride public transit to and from so much that I calculated that each week we lost entire 24 hours just riding back and forth. And they weren’t just any hours, they were important hours for rest, early in the morning and late in the evening. Both of us were constantly tired by the middle of the week. Just by moving to an apartment right next to my son’s school, we have raised the quality of life for both of us immensely. It was difficult to move out of our home of so many years, especially for my son, who didn’t remember any other home, but even just a few months in this have made both of us less stressed. We have more time to do our own things or to be together.

What is the biggest problem you have ever come across with technology?
For me the biggest problem with technology is that it is addictive. It is enticing me away from other activities that I enjoy or that I have to do. Slightest waiting after some application can turn into hours of meaningless surfing in the web if I don’t control myself. I could spend hours upon hours trying to program some little application for myself (that I am going to scrap after a while anyway), forgetting food and rest and any obligations that I have. It is so exciting that it is taking me away from my own life. I think this is a problem that never goes away, something that all of us need to fight for themselves.

What is the best advice anyone has ever given to you? 
The most important advice was given by my primary school teacher when the class wouldn’t get quiet when she told us to - everybody started shushing everybody very loudly instead, resulting in ever louder class. So she taught us that if you want to change the world, start with yourself. When everybody in the class listened to that advice, the class got quiet very quickly.

However, I was struck by how this sentence was actually all-compassing, not applying just to this situation. You cannot change somebody who doesn’t want to be changed, but you can change yourself. The world is like a big classroom, and if everybody started striving for perfection in their own way, then the world is striving for perfection. Changing yourself into a better person starts a chain of events that results in a better world, even if just by this tiny bit - the part of the world that you occupy yourself, is better.

What is the most exciting part of your work?
For me it is most exciting to see people being able to get their work done better, more efficiently; to see the solutions in real life giving actual results; the whole process, the whole system that might have been designed for months, finally working together. All those tiny details that I have worked through have actually come together to make real life better in some way.

(Photo: Kersti Niglas)
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