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“Programming things no one has ever programmed before”

Nadja Bogdanova works as a UX/UI designer at Volkswagen’s Smart.Production:Lab working on the interface between users and software developers.

In her home country, math and computer science are regular school subjects for Nadja Bogdanova. But when she comes from Russia to Germany with her family at the age of 16, she realizes that she is much better than her classmates in these subjects. This changes her perspective of these subjects. “When I realized how good I was at it, I started to enjoy it more and more,” she says. She decides to study digital media. In the computer science courses, she notices that there are very few women in the department.

For her master’s thesis, she wants to program software with which the fulfilment of design specifications can be tested. She looks for a supervisor – but a tutor harshly rejects her with the words: “You can’t do that!” Nadja Bogdanova says today: “Until then, I had little to do with prejudices, but this experience was almost certainly related to the fact that I am a woman.” She does not let herself be put off though, finds a professor and, in Volkswagen, a company to accompany her research work. The tutor who she initially asks for help is proven to be way off with his premature assumption: the young woman completes her studies with a grade of 1.3.

Interface between users and developers

Nadja Bogdanova has been working in Volkswagen’s Smart.Production:Lab since early 2019. Her most important task there is to conceive and design the interface between users and software functions. In technical jargon, this is also known as “user experience” and “user interface design”. “Our users are production planners and employees in the factory. They use different software to optimize the processes in the production of automobiles.”

On the other side of the equation are our software developers who program the functions. “When we design a user interface, it’s not just a matter of making it look appealing,” the specialist describes. “It’s also about making it easy and intuitive to use.”

At Volkswagen we can contribute our ideas and try out new things. Our team is a colorful mix. It doesn’t matter whether you’re male or female.

Nadja Bogdanova believes that Volkswagen offers her the ideal environment for this work. “At Volkswagen we can contribute our ideas and try out new things. Our team is a colorful mix. It doesn’t matter whether you’re male or female,” she says. It’s also important to her that digitalization has a high priority in the company. This facilitates the exchange with other IT departments and promotes innovation. “At Volkswagen we develop and program things that no one has ever programmed before.”

She also sees this as a great gain for herself personally. “In computer science, you have to keep up with the latest developments and learn new things, because digitalization changes everything. And I’m right in the middle of it. That’s what makes my work so exciting.”

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