Making it Work with Anna Kroitzsch
Anna Kroitzsch grew up in Russia and later moved to Canada before settling in the U.S. She has a passion for technology and using her skills and knowledge to develop software solutions. She joined the Silverware team in 2020. We spoke with Anna Kroitzsch about what inspires her both professionally and personally and here is what she had to share:
What inspired you to pursue a career in technology?
I loved my computer science classes in high school. As a student, I was competitive and always strived to score the highest marks in class. I found computer science projects interesting, and the work came easy to me. My university education story is a bit random. My family emigrated from Russia to Canada, and I was transferring my credits from my math and economics major in Russia to a Canadian university. I applied to both Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Applied Science majors and only got accepted to the Bachelor of Applied Science because I had too many credits for the Bachelor of Science program.
During my first year of engineering, I was required to take a basic course that allows students to learn what different types of engineers do. It is interesting how in medicine most people understand what different types of doctors do; cardiologists, pediatricians, orthopedic surgeons, etc. However, when it comes to engineering, most people do not know the differences in chemical, mechanical, biomedical, and other types of engineering. Fortunately, first year engineering students are given an opportunity to learn about the different areas to help select the field they’d like to specialize in. For me, the choice was easy – I knew I loved programming. I did well in my computer science class and found the projects very interesting.
As a woman working in a male dominated industry, what do you think might help attract more young women like yourself to the industry?
There’s a graph published by the National Science Foundation that shows a significant decline in the number of women over the past few decades choosing to pursue a career in computer science. There is no clear answer or reason why the initial increase of women entering the computer Industry started declining around 1984, but there’s a theory that as personal computers were developed, they were marketed through ads and films almost entirely to males. Families began buying computers primarily for boys. It is believed that this led to more male college students being accepted into computer science programs. They had better knowledge and were more comfortable around computers than their female counterparts.
I believe students need something or someone that will spark their interest, it could be computer game play or an exceptionally good computer programming teacher that gives students challenging problems to solve or an engineering project that’s inspiring. This early introduction is especially valuable for girls. When I was in college studying computer engineering in Canada, I volunteered to visit a secondary school during my spring reading break and help 10-11 years-old with an engineering project using six simple machines. It was loads of fun. I had four girls on my team, and our project was awarded first place. Events like these inspire kids to have an interest in technology; anything where they get hands-on experience and get to build something – like a toy or a small program – helps cultivate that interest early on. Competitions or exposure to engineering projects like Mark Rober’s creation of “An Obstacle Course to Try and ‘Squirrel-Proof’ a Bird Feeder,” can help spark that interest. You can find this and others like it on YouTube.
What do you enjoy most about the work you do as a consultant?
Most of what I do is as a developer, but I also consultant with clients. I mainly work in C\AL and AL languages developing Business Central and Dynamics NAV projects. I enjoy the beauty of simple code, accounting for multiple scenarios – making my code foolproof and just making something work is a great joy for me. I get satisfaction completing large projects and feel like I’ve accomplished something big. Another part of my work is designing reports. I enjoy seeing how beautiful they are when printed on paper.
Can you tell us about any interesting projects you’ve recently worked on?
I am currently working on a project that involves integrating Shopify and Amazon with Business Central. When a new order is created by a customer through Shopify or Amazon, we must send information about that order, as well as the customer who made it to Business Central through HTTP Request. Translating data from the request into actual documents in Business Central is interesting and challenging. I’m super happy when this finally works.
What are some of the biggest challenges clients face during an ERP implementation and how do you help them overcome those challenges?
I think one of the funniest challenges clients face is in their lack of awareness of customizations and functionalities that are built into their systems. They don’t always know that things work because of customization or that it is not how the product worked originally. Over the years, people change positions, new people are hired, companies are sold or people just forget. If I come across functionality that contradicts what a client requests, I explore how the system is built and let our client know how their system functions now and why. Then, they can decide if they want to keep it as is or change something based on the information I present.
If Anna Kroitzsch could invite anyone to dinner, who would it be and why?
I mentioned Mark Rober earlier. He is a former NASA engineer, and he is doing a lot of educational and fun projects that he demos on his YouTube Channel. He also offers a creative engineering class that helps people pick a few projects to implement. If I ever have kids, I will register for that class and do it with them. I think it would be super interesting to talk to Mark about the fun projects he’s done. My favorite projects he’s built are Squirrel Maze, part 1 and 2 and Glitter Bomb vs. Porch Pirates – a project where he creates packages with surprise contents that get stolen by porch pirates.
When you are not working, what do you like to do to unwind?
I like to invest, plan new strategies, learn about stocks. I also do yoga to stretch my body and walk to get my steps in. I love reading and traveling to new countries. Now that everything is reopening, I hope to get a chance to travel back to Canada. My husband and I miss eating sushi at our favorite restaurant there.