Kazakh IT Professional Shares Inspiration, Challenges in Tech Journey 

ASTANA – A native of Kazakhstan, Nazerke Seidan’s career journey has spanned continents – from Europe to the United States and back to her home country, where she now works in a global IT company. In an interview with The Astana Times, Seidan shares what inspired her to choose tech as a career path and the challenges she faced along the way. 

Nazerke Seidan. Photo credit: Seidan’s personal archive

“Different aspects impacted me to choose soft engineering. First, I was looking for fields that require logical and critical thinking and maSH [an acronym for Making Stuff Happen] in coding. I chose computer science because I was actually a bit into physics,” she said.

She spent four years in Budapest studying computer science. During that time, she also did internships in Hungary, Japan and Switzerland to gain practical industry experience. “I wanted to explore computer science because it is a very broad field,” she added. 

Seidan explored front-end, back-end, and machine learning, among other fields. 

“The most challenging part in the professional journey that I encountered was how and where to start. Because computer science was broad, I did not know where to start. I was looking for mentors and a guide,” she said. 

“Thankfully, I met mentors and really good people along my professional journey who helped me to get started in computer science,” she added. 

While looking for projects, she came across the Apache Solr project. This is an open-source search platform that is highly scalable and designed to handle large volumes of data. “They responded to my mail. They wanted to have a call and talk more about my interest and potential contribution. I was excited. I met a mentor whose name is David Smiley, who helped me a lot during this learning journey,” she recalled. 

The mentor also helped Seidan get a job after her graduation. She accepted the offer and moved to France. Since then, she has been working in Salesforce. 

“That’s an American company. Their main product is customer relationship management on public cloud,” she added. “I spent two years in France. After that, I relocated to New York City, within the same team, because I wanted to explore the U.S. culture.”  

Breaking gender stereotypes

Working in tech as a woman is not a challenge, she said.

“But it is more about surroundings. When you work in a company where most of your colleagues are male, it is kind of a challenge because you are in 20% while 80% are male,” she said.  

Globally, stereotypes about gender roles can discourage girls and women from pursuing interests in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, including IT. These stereotypes are reinforced by societal expectations and sometimes by the educational system, which can skew boys and girls toward traditional gender roles.

United Nations (UN) data shows that only 30% of all women enrolled in higher education globally opt for STEM fields. Of this, just 3% choose information and communication technologies (ICT) disciplines. Across Kazakhstan, just 32% of students at ICT faculties are women. 

IT development in Kazakhstan

With an experience in different countries, Seidan spoke positively of the development of IT in her home country. 

“I see huge improvements in the IT and tech industry. Digital transformation is booming,” she said. 

Data shows a positive picture. There are more than 14,000 IT companies in Kazakhstan, and the IT industry employs over 180,000 people. Kazakhstan’s IT exports exceeded $500 million in 2023.

“Currently, the government is focusing on digital transformation in almost every field – healthcare, education, and government itself. That’s really good because tech is booming, and that’s the future. Kazakhstan is heading to the future of tech,” she said. 

The electronic government in Kazakhstan has been making strides, surpassing the world’s well-developed economies, with Kazakhstan ranking 28th in the UN E-government Index out of 193 countries. 

“You can send your documents electronically, whereas in the past, you had to submit them paper-based by post or in person. Now, it is making our lives easier,” added Seidan. 

She also sees the rise in Kazakh startups. Yet, she suggested there is one aspect worth considering.

“The potential risk that I see is on the quality and security side because the current focus is developing something but not on the security side. What happens if hackers get your credentials or personal data? That’s a big question, and we are not focusing on that part,” said Seidan. 

Seidan is part of the Digital Nomads, a global community of Kazakh IT professionals. 

“[There are] around 400 members as of now. A few projects are going on. We translate content into Kazakh language, for example, an AI glossary, robotics, and a competitive programming book from English to Kazakhstan. Moreover, we have a lecture series, organizing lectures for schools and universities. Lectures are about tech topics or soft skills,” she said. 


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