SIDM Editorial Team - 6 December 2021
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Nevana Lazarevic
 

Nevena Lazarevic

Data Scientist

Born: 1987
1 child

„Audaces fortuna iuvat  — Fortune helps the brave.“

Education/career: Bachelor in Mathematics and Informatics at the University of Belgrade, Serbia; Master in Informatics at University Paris-Est Marne la Vallée. France; PhD in Computer Science at University of Bern, Switzerland. Teaching Assistant at the Faculty of Mathematics, University of Belgrade; Research Assistant at the Mathematical Institute of Serbian Academy of Science and Art; PostDoc at University of Bern. Currently, career as a Data Scientist.

How did you get into the IT industry?

What was your first encounter with IT?  When, how and why did you catch fire then?
My first encounter with IT was when I was 13 years old. We had a facultative class in informatics. The teacher showed us programming in Pascal, and I was intrigued by how you can “instruct” a computer to do something, a machine which seemed like magic to me until that moment. I then realized the pure logic behind its functioning.

How old were you at that time?
Seventh grade of primary school, thirteen years old.

How old were you when it became serious and you had to decide on an apprenticeship or a field of study, respectively?
I have decided to study mathematics long before I had my first encounter with computers and informatics. I was ten years old when I decided to study mathematics, during a mathematical contest. I was sure to study theoretical mathematics till I was 15 years old and started grammar school. I had my first serious encounter with programming in high school and I then decided to study informatics, at the Faculty of Mathematics in Belgrade, so that I am close to both fields of study.

What alternative professions or fields of study were you also interested in at the time?
Besides mathematics, I was shortly considering to study the French language, but my love towards mathematics has prevailed.

What information did you have at that time about education and the opportunities afterwards?
I knew that programming was on the rise and that the need for developers was ever growing. I also knew that almost all of the students from the Faculty of Mathematics were finding jobs within weeks of graduation as they have acquired both theoretical and practical coding knowledge.

What spoke against it from your point of view at the time?
Nothing.

Who, which people, which circumstances spoke against a career in IT for you at that time?
Nothing was speaking against a career in IT. Regarding my gender, until my master studies I was not aware of the fact that women are underrepresented in STEM fields. At least the situation in my class was that we were almost 50-50, maybe even more women than men. Only at my master studies I became aware of this issue, as there were much fewer women than men.

What was ultimately decisive for your decision to go into IT?
Love towards mathematics and solving mathematical problems through coding.

Who, which persons, supported you at that time?
My parents were my biggest support and they have never questioned my choice.

What was your path after your apprenticeship or studies?

What were your first steps after graduation?
I started my master studies.

Where were you in your career five years after the end of your training/studies?
•  Professionally
Five years after my Bachelor, I was doing my PhD.

•  Private situation
Five years after my Bachelor studies, I was living in Switzerland and I was engaged.

Did you have
a) The same salary as your male colleagues?

Well, I think I did.

b) The same career opportunities? If no, why not?
I think so.

Looking back, how do you assess the decision for IT?

Which of your expectations were met?
I have gained a wide range of knowledge. Job opportunities were really omnipresent.

What do you enjoy most about your current professional situation?
I enjoy working with artificial intelligence, as it is pure mathematics which is employed for solving real world problems through coding.

Which of your expectations were not met?
None that I can think of.

Would you make the same decision again?
Yes, without any change.

What do you regret or criticise?

How had your career been different if you were a man?
I do not think it would.

What would you do differently, and how exactly, if you could?
Nothing.

If you had a magic wand, what would you wish for?
I am satisfied with my current situation as it is.

What advice would you give to your daughter?

What advice would you give to your 15-year-old daughter if she would like to go into IT?
Go for it and be always confident in yourself.

What is important to you in life from a professional point of view?
Enjoying my work and having a satisfying work-life balance.

What would a young woman retiring in 2061 have to consider when shaping her career?
A wide range of opportunities which she would not want to miss.

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