Helen Kuroczycki never assumed she’d be working at IDBS for as long as she has, but she’s also never found a reason to leave. Her long and varied tenure reflects a career where one opportunity always leads to the next. Below, she explains what she’s working on and how she’s able to keep growing while staying put.
I originally thought I wanted to be a scientist. I studied to be a molecular microbiologist, and I loved being in the lab. Then, as I was working on my PhD, I realized that my interest in the science part was waning, but at the same time, I was developing a passion for computers. Even in the lab as a postgraduate, I was something of an unofficial de facto IT person, and I was always figuring out ways to work on projects on my computer. So I began considering a different career path.
My initiation into working at IDBS was a good example of being in the right place at the right time—and also being prepared. I was nearing the end of my PhD at University of Surrey and didn’t know what my next move was going to be. IDBS is based literally across the street from the campus, and a friend of a friend’s sister was working there as a consultant. She said, “Hey, they’re looking for software testers. People with a science background like you, but who also like IT.” I applied and got the job. It was a relief to get an IT job, but also know that my science background wasn’t going to waste.
I started out on the Test team; I took every opportunity to learn about our software and build up my skill set, and I eventually became the Test team lead, responsible for managing the testing. I was on the Test team for about seven years, and then I had the chance to move into program management. So I kind of jumped ship from software testing to the software development side, making sure everything comes together for a software release. That was interesting because the role had typically gone to a software developer, and I didn’t have the exact technical skills, but my experience was relevant.
I went on to have a few different management positions, and I’d been in my role as a software engineering development manager for about four years when I realized that I wanted to move to the next level, but I didn’t want to go any further in Engineering. So I had a lot of open conversations with my boss at the time, and I identified gaps in my skill set—I wanted more commercial experience. And then I got the opportunity to join the Customer Success team.
I’ve been in my role as a customer success manager since last July, and it’s been a really great move for me because I’ve had the opportunity to build on skills I already had, pulling different parts of the organization together, but I’m also getting to work really closely with some account managers and the Services team to build out the commercial side of my skills gap.
I’ve stayed partly because of growth opportunities and the ability to learn new things. The company was initially quite small when I started. There were eight to ten of us on the Test team and maybe only twice as many developers. Our small size meant I could do a lot of other people’s jobs—everyone kind of pitched in to do whatever was needed. I learned very early on that opportunities were everywhere, and I took every chance I could to upgrade my knowledge and abilities.
There’s also something to be said for the people I’ve worked with. Everyone wants to help each other because the underlying mentality is that the best team wins.
There’s always been a great camaraderie, and before COVID-19, there were a lot of socials and holiday parties. Especially when I was new, the social element really helped solidify a familial feeling within the whole company.
In fact, I actually married one of my co-workers, and I’d say a lot of the wedding reception guests were IDBS people because they were some of our closest friends.
Right now, working remotely is the hardest part for me. I’m quite a people person, and I can’t wait to get back to the office. A lot of software and IT people fit the stereotype of being introverts, but that’s not me. A big part of my job is building relationships with the customers. Now, meetings with customers are more functional, and it’s harder to find that personal touch remotely.
The same goes for my co-workers. Some people on my team are people I’ve known for years at IDBS, but I’ve only met our new account manager once, and every interaction since has been completely remote. It’s weird because we work so closely. There’s something lost there, but we make do for now.
I’m always excited about what I’m going to learn next. I’m still fresh in my current role and that means I’m learning new things all the time. I have a lot of experience as a line manager, but now I’m focusing more on the commercial side of things, and that’s where I see myself progressing; head of a department on the commercial side, but probably still within Customer Success.
I’ve spent my whole career at IDBS so far, and I think in most situations, it would be normal to wonder what else is out there—I actually spoke to my boss about this a couple weeks ago. So it’s not that I’d never take a job outside the company. But I love IDBS, and having the huge Danaher framework only expands my career possibilities. The truth is, I don’t see any reason to leave.