Meet Petya Sotirova, Director, Technical Support at Progress

Meet Petya Sotirova, Director, Technical Support at Progress

Posted on August 09, 2022 0 Comments

Today, we shine a spotlight on Petya Sotirova, who has been recognized for “Uphold trust,” one of the ProgressPROUD core values we strive to embody every day.

Petya Sotirova is an example of a woman in tech who has made a path for herself in the industry and is now hoping that her story will inspire others. A firm believer that software is about people and not computers, she leads the exceptional tech support teams responsible for Progress’s Telerik and Kendo UI product lines around the world.

Outside of work, you will find her reading (she has a list of 60 books to cover just in 2022!), enjoying the outdoors or spending time with her loved ones.

Find out more about Petya in the following interview:

Where did your story with technology begin?

It started in middle school when it was very popular to have your own channel on IRC (an instant messaging system). Not only that, but also have a chatbot that will do some manual things for you, like greet people when they join. I was interested in learning how to do that, but back in 2005 the self-education resources available were limited. That’s why I decided to enroll in the math high school in my hometown, where my formal journey with programming began.

What drew you to tech support?

I was studying software engineering at university and in my second year, I had to choose which field I would like to pursue: Software development, quality assurance or tech support. I was put under a lot of pressure to choose software development as it was considered the most interesting field of the three, but I followed my intuition and chose tech support. I have never regretted that decision for a moment.

Over the years I’ve thought about my motivation and interests, and I realized that for me, it's important to be close to people. In tech support roles you solve technical challenges, but there is also the aspect of connecting with other human beings and helping them no matter what mood they’re in.

What is one thing about tech support that you wish more people knew?

I think that when people hear tech support, they immediately think of a call center where you're answering the phones and addressing repetitive queries, but that’s not all technical support is.

The role requires a lot of transferable skills that are applicable in all areas of life, like being quick on your feet, managing your emotions and helping others do that as well. As you gain more experience, the cases you work on become more challenging. Then you reach a point when you learn so much about the product that it's almost like you know just as much or even more about it than the ones who created it. You see how people actually use it and how it behaves in real life situations.

At Progress, the entry-level tech support and software development roles are quite similar as they're all about learning what the product does and how the customers use it. That involves working directly with our customers to better understand the problem that we’re solving for them. Essentially, everyone in a technical role does support to some extent.

Looking back, what would you say is your greatest work-related achievement?

I can’t really put my finger on just one. A lot of love and appreciation is shown towards our teams and our products all the time, to the extent that we’re praised for being geniuses almost every day. It's a really fulfilling experience.

Oftentimes, we hear about women treated poorly at their workplace or not being offered the same opportunities as their male counterparts. The IT industry has been making dedicated efforts to address this challenge, but there’s still room for improvement. How do you feel as a woman in tech?

I've been in technology in some shape or form since I was 13 years old. Over the years, I've experienced situations where someone perceived me as inferior. But Progress is super supportive with the work of the employee resource groups (ERGs) raising awareness and addressing implicit bias. I think that the company is doing a great job in trying to surface that and have those uncomfortable conversations, to ultimately make sure that everyone feels appreciated at work. And I do.

How about the IT industry—how has that one changed over the years?

In the world of tech support, I would say that we're seeing a shift toward more customer centricity. Several years ago, you would get the notion that support is just a cost center and it's there to make sure that customers don't bother developers. This was never the case at Progress and I’m happy to see that mindset shift in other companies: They now have a genuine understanding that your customers are really your best avenue of advertisement. Nothing beats word of mouth.

Technology is always evolving, and we should be prepared to adapt and grow with it.

You recently celebrated your 10th anniversary with Progress—congratulations! This is also the only employer you’ve ever had. What made you stay this long?

I get to work with amazing people whose spirit of togetherness and willingness to help are at a whole different level. Aside from that, I was fortunate to work on exciting opportunities. Some of those endeavors were successful, others not so much, but ultimately, I’ve learned a lot along the way.

Thinking back, I haven’t had a single boring day in my 10+ years at the company. Over time the industry, our customers, the technology, the world of customer service—they all keep changing. Then you add disruptions like a global pandemic to the mix, and there’s always a unique challenge that you need to solve.

In your spare time you read a lot of books, both fiction and non-fiction. Do you see any touchpoints with the stories you’re reading about and what you do at work?

Absolutely. Reading various types of fiction is extremely important as it develops your imagination, and that skill is highly valued in any role and industry. Additionally, books help you improve your writing skills and enrich your vocabulary. In a global company where a vast amount of the communication is written, it is crucial for you to be able to express yourself clearly and effectively.

If you weren’t doing tech support, what job would you have?

I would be a teacher at a high school or middle school. It was one of the career paths I considered pursuing while in school. To me, teaching is the greatest way to give back to a community and help shape the next generation.

Back when I was a student, it was hard to get started with software development because the resources were hard to come by. Nowadays, young people are in an equally difficult situation; there’s so much information out there that it is difficult to sift through and find your true purpose. This is something I would like to help others with. Now that I've had some work and life experience, I think that I'll eventually end up teaching at some point in my life.

To get to know other Progressers like Petya, read more of our employee interviews here.

Join Our Team!

Tsvetiana Zaharieva

Tsvetiana Zaharieva

Tsvetiana Zaharieva is part of the Global Communications team at Progress. Inspired by technology and its impact on society, she is passionate about sharing good stories and know-how in the most efficient way. She is interested in the influence of psychology on communication and the role of the entrepreneurial mindset in a corporate setting. In her spare time she enjoys singing in choir as well as going to cultural and business events.

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