The world of tech is expanding as never before. And it’s not surprising that some people with no tech background are successfully settling in here. IT may seem as a very complicated field, but it’s far from true: the variety of roles and skills needed for them is incredibly large. Combined with the personal motivation and willingness to learn, the industry is more than ready to give a warm welcome to anyone interested.

And the story of Laura Cvilikaitė, currently the Senior Data Engineer & Domain Lead at Luminor Bank, one of the largest financial institutions in Lithuania, is exactly the same. Having been passionate about numbers and logics since childhood, she kept exploring various quantitative fields before turning to the world of tech and data. And it was exactly the right track for her.

Laura, please tell us more about your current position.

My current position is the Senior Data Engineer & Domain Lead at Luminor Bank. Basically, a data engineer is an IT worker whose primary job is to set up and maintain data infrastructures that support business information systems and applications. I am typically responsible for building data pipelines to bring together information from different source systems and creating/maintaining web applications. They are typically used by my colleagues in business units on a daily basis. It involves integration, consolidation and cleansing of data – this process is better known as ETL (Extract, Transform, Load). I am mainly working with Data Warehouse, developing functions, packages and other objects, which create a back-end of Oracle APEX web applications, using PL/SQL coding language. On top of that, I am designing the front-end of these web applications, which involves CSS and JavaScript. My job as well includes continuous collaboration with colleagues from business, business/system analysts, database administrators, data architects, testers, tech leads and other developers/engineers to bring the best solutions for our Luminor bank customers.

What are these applications that you create used for?

There are several applications, designed for risk values calculations, which involves a lot of mathematical functions, FOREX trading calculations and other reporting, for instance. All of them are created for reporting purposes to the European Central Bank or the State Tax Inspectorate.

What was your first position in tech?

Tech career was not the starting point of my journey. I had two internships and other positions in banks or insurance companies before the actual tech position. My first internship was in an accounting unit, followed by the accountant’s role at SEB. My love for databases arose in my second internship in the BTA insurance company, when I had to create a calculator for reporting purposes, extracting and transforming insurance tariffs from a database. After the internship I joined Luminor Bank as a Risk Reporting Analyst, where I was creating risk reports using Oracle SQL developer and MS Access. After 18 months, I’ve been suggested by the IT team lead to try myself in an open position of Junior Developer at my current department. This transfer to tech is one of the best choices that I have made in my career path.

This transfer to tech is one of the best choices that I have made in my career path.

Who or what influenced you to become a tech specialist?

I was always interested in quantitative sciences, and that’s why I decided to study mathematics and informatics engineering. At school, I admired mathematics because it had one and only one correct answer to a problem, whereas in Lithuanian language lessons, the answers could depend on many subjective things. Quantitative sciences challenge you to think rationally, be objective, logical, and structured. Regarding the popularity of studies among women, I would say the distribution between genders across both of my programmes was 60/40, and a bigger part consisted of women. Although I do not see the same distribution in the IT workplace, where the majority of employees are still men. Nevertheless, I think that the trend is changing already, welcoming more and more females into the IT world every day. 

At school, I admired mathematics because it had one and only one correct answer to a problem, whereas in Lithuanian language lessons, the answers could depend on many subjective things.

Did you have any major challenges while reaching for your career in tech goals?

There were no major challenges to get into the IT world as I had a really warm welcome. The team here is great and very helpful, and in the beginning of my Junior Developer role, colleagues were helping and answering all the questions that I had. When it comes to my current position, we have challenges such as fitting into strict deadlines sometimes, as well as being able to adapt to changing business requirements and overlapping projects. This encourages you to see a bigger picture, become more agile and think one step ahead too. This mindset helps to build universal, maintainable and easy-to-use solutions, which could be easily modified in the event of changing requirements.

What are the top 3 features about your job that you like the most?

First and foremost, the team. We have the best team supporting you in every step and performing to deliver their best every time. Also, we have that so-called ‘coffee club’, which helps you through the day. Secondly, I’d mention the change which is a constant in Luminor. We have very interesting projects ongoing which never leaves you bored. Thirdly, we are always learning new things and improving our knowledge, which helps you to grow both as a person and as an employee.

What kind of skills (including both hard and soft) are needed for data engineers?

Generally, data engineers need to understand several programming languages used for statistical modelling and analysis, data warehousing solutions, and building data pipelines. Aside from that, possessing a strong foundation in software engineering is a must. While data engineering job specifics vary across different industries, the programming languages could include various types of SQL (T-SQL, PL/SQL, NoSQL etc.), R, Python, Java, JavaScript, CSS, HTML or other. It’s also important to be able to use various BI tools, such as Tableau, SAS, Qlik, etc. As mentioned before, data engineers should have an analytical, objective, and structured mindset. They should be able to adapt to changing circumstances and see a bigger picture. Collaboration and communication skills are needed, which require English language proficiency too. 

As mentioned before, data engineers should have an analytical, objective, and structured mindset.

If there’s anyone who’d like to become a data engineer out there, having no idea about the steps that should be made, could you give a short advice on where to start?

Well, for me it was picking the right academic path back in the day. But now we have a lot of courses online, like Coursera, Udemy, DataCamp or Oracle certifications, which could help to learn any existing programming language. There are designated schools for coding too, which can be a better option, if you aren’t into online courses. Although the most important advice for anyone out there who would like to start a career in the IT world is not to be afraid of change! I left a well-paid accountant’s job for a non-paid internship because I had a feeling that the tech world is for me, and I will never regret this decision that I have made. I am very happy that we have such initiatives as WomenGoTech because we should encourage all women that feel interested in this field to try themselves out here. I will be very proud if this interview inspires any women to think that maybe this is for them after all.