Human: Jasmine Navoyan
Location: Yerevan, Armenia
Domain: Quality Assurance(QA) , Fintech/Banking, Project management
Job Profile: Quality Assurance Engineer, Project Manager
One does not need to look further than the mountainous nation of Armenia for inspiration to survive and thrive. There is an old Armenian proverb that says, ‘The sun won’t stay behind the cloud forever.‘ It’s a wisdom passed down from generation to generation that has seen them through both good and bad times.
The people of this distinct nation had to time and again endure innumerable challenges and live through it’s dark past. Like many of the families that had to witness one of the most horrendous crimes on humanity , this is one such story of a citizen and her family’s journey to face all odds to not only survive through it but to find their way back home.
So here’s introducing the next human in the series, the enigmatic Jasmine Navoyan, who is based in the city of Yerevan in Armenia and is a quality assurance test engineer by profession with an economics and management background. Her journey exemplifies the changing face of the tech industry in her homeland, where your roles are defined by your passions and willingness to learn rather than your background or qualifications. She has made a successful transition into the tech industry and is determined to bring in more women into the tech space.
Growing up in Armenia
The Republic of Armenia is a unique nation with prehistoric origins and was the first state to adopt Christianity in ancient times. The land of ‘Hayk‘ and its people have survived many wars, including genocide, throughout their history.
She recalls how her life changed following the First Nagorno-Karabakh War between Armenia and Azerbaijan in 1998.
‘Our family moved to the capital Yerevan so we can survive the war. I was young but I remember most of the things that happen to us.’, she poignantly remembers.
The young family was forced to flee their home in Tavush due to the war, and her parents had to not only leave their jobs behind but also find a way to fend for themselves in a new city. Yerevan, with its picturesque view of snow-covered Ararat, has been her home for decades.
She recollects, ‘The nation’s economic situation was really bad after the war. My dad, who had a thriving job as the CEO of a bank, had to resort to driving taxis. We lost everything due to the war and had to start from scratch.‘
Her father, a successful banker in his hometown with two degrees, had to take any odd jobs that came his way to support the family. She explains how her older siblings were still attending university at the time, and how her parents worked hard to ensure that their children’s education was not limited by their circumstances.
‘My father’s advice has been that we are responsible for our choices and decisions. That we cannot blame anybody or anything.’, she divulges.
Her childhood, as she reminisces, was devoted to exploring books, and she vividly remembers how she would spend her time reading the classics as well as world literature.
She describes, ‘I remember finding it hard to connect with people when I was little. I was in my own world and I read a lot. I would often ask money from my mother and buy books from the neighborhood.’
Once she graduated out of school, she made a conscious decision to communicate and connect with more people around her. She reveals how she still stays in touch with most of her schoolmates via social media.
‘I completely changed my attitude toward life, and I learned to connect and form friendships…I am still learning it everyday.’, she discloses.
The best memories she recollects from her early life are when all the family were living together under the same roof. She describes how the young family would go on picnics and visit their grandparents in Tavush during the holidays. The drive back home would be one of those unforgettable memories of her young life.
She cheerily says, ‘The best times I can remember were when we were a family of five and life was so much simpler. We had financial difficulties, but we all held each other up.’
Rediscovering her roots
The war had affected every aspect of their lives. But her parents were determined to rebuild their lives in their homeland.
She reveals, ‘It was very popular to leave the country for Europe in those days. But for my father, Tavush is where he was born and it’s a haven for him.’
She had a thriving career and life in Sweden when she made the decision to move back to Armenia and find her purpose among her people.
‘I remember waking up one day and I felt a calling to go back home.‘, she confesses.
The people and their hospitality are her favorite aspects of her home country. People have always gone out of their way to help her.
She narrates, ‘Whenever the plane lands in Yerevan, you get the feeling that you are finally home.’
But that is not the only connection she has to her homeland. She was named after her aunt, who died at the young age of four.
‘I was named after my aunt, her name was Hasmik. It is my local name.’, she divulges.
Her paternal grandmother had also been someone who had a significant impact on her early life. She narrates how the doting grandma would plant kisses on their cheeks and how they would make a fuss about her affectionate ways.
She laughs and remembers, ‘She was a kind hearted woman and very loving. As kids, we would complain about her kisses.’
The Navoyan household as she describes was always filled with activities and traditional Armenian food. Her maternal grandmother, who had secretly harboured a dream of singing but wasn’t allowed to, would serenade the family with folk songs. Love was what united the family and she narrates how her parents’ marriage had a unique backstory.
‘My mom’s childhood home had a beautiful backyard lined with trees. She actually had a dream that she was sitting there one day and a woman came and told her that she will meet her future husband after twenty days. And she will marry him after a month.’, she reveals.
Her mother had brushed off the prophetic dream, but she was soon introduced to a colleague of one of her friends. And that was how her parents met and build a life from scratch.
She reflects, ‘My father had nothing when they met and they build everything together with love, respect and understanding. There is not a day that she regrets her decision. She will tell you that she has only one man in her life and it’s my father.’
The past is something that the family has learned to come out from. She explains how her maternal grandmother survived the genocide and escaped from Turkey when she was fourteen.
‘She lost all her family. That was the story of a lot of Armenians who were fortunate enough to escape or survive. A kind-hearted woman had rescued her and she later married her son.,‘ she recalls.
It is a part of history that the Armenians have not forgotten, and she describes how each generation ensures that the horrors of such atrocious acts on humanity are not lost in time. The Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day is a solemn event held each year around the world to mourn the loss of millions of lives lost in such a dark chapter of history.
She would say, ‘It doesn’t matter what generation you are from, it is something we have never forgotten. No matter who or where you are the Remembrance day holds a special place in any Armenians’ heart.’
Finding a purpose
Her path to the world of technology was not unidirectional. She graduated with a degree in economics and management studies from Armenia’s Northern University and was encouraged to pursue a career in banking and carry on her father’s legacy. She remembers meeting one of her lifelong friends, Angela, in university, and she has been a constant support throughout her life.
‘We had a similar background and we connected instantly,‘ she happily reminisces.
Following her graduation, she worked in various customer service and management positions. One of her first job was as an office manager for a construction company, and this experience taught her how to navigate workplaces. Following that, she discovered an opportunity to relocate to Sweden and start over. She returned to university, this time at Sweden’s Lund University, where she majored in Swedish and business studies. And had a steady life and job before she decided to go back home.
She recalls, ‘After creating a new life for myself in Sweden, I decided to head back home. It was a challenging time. ‘
The relocation caused her to consider how she would find work in her home country with her new set of degrees. She had just landed a new job at an international company and was about to settle down when the pandemic hit. As a result, she had to start all over again.
‘I’d always wanted to work in technology. But seeing people as young as seventeen or eighteen in the industry makes you wonder if I, in my thirties, can do it as well.‘, she reflects.
But she knew it was now or never, so she sent her resume to several tech companies. She had a memorable conversation with a recruiter who had years of industry experience and advised her to transition to tech.
She recalls, ‘She told me that I am not afraid to begin something new and hearing my journey to start afresh in tech in my thirties really inspired her. And she invited me to work immediately.‘
That conversation motivated her to find her place in the industry and dispelled her self-doubts. She went on to work in one of the biggest tech companies in Armenia. It has indeed been a remarkable journey from her early managerial roles to now working as a quality assurance test engineer.
She narrates, ‘My initial days was challenging. I quickly realised how I had to find solutions on my own. That no one would sit down with you and show you how things work.’
In her early tech career, she quickly established herself as a valuable team member. And she credits her success to her willingness to learn and her desire to find her niche in the industry. The world of quality assurance, as she describes it, is more than just finding bugs for companies; it is a way to connect products to real-life users, and it has been a gratifying work.
‘It is not only about finding and fixing bugs, but also about developing error-free, fail-safe, and user-friendly products that will be used by people like you and me.‘, she explains.
This incredible lifelong learner intends to continue working on her tech career and has been learning Python to prepare for her next role in the industry.
Armenia’s rapidly developing tech industry has captivated the world’s interest. Many successful startups have emerged from this country, including PicsArt, Service Titan, SoloLearn, and Krisp, to name a few. On being asked what changes she would like to see in the tech domain, she nonchalantly explains how she wants to see more women in tech roles.
‘I want to bring more women in the industry. It’s something I’d like to work on.‘, she confesses.
One of the best pieces of advice she has received came from a friend who has started her own company and advised her to look beyond what she expected of herself. She taught her a valuable lesson about upskilling herself and not to get stuck in a role that will limit her growth in the future.
She reveals, ‘I was looking for secretarial and managerial roles in the beginning of my career and she told me how I can continue be a secretary or an office manager in my twenties, but it won’t work for my whole life.’
That lesson has stayed with her throughout her career, and she recalls how many companies approached her about taking on managerial roles, but she was adamant about transitioning to a tech role.
‘I was rejected a couple times. But there is an Armenian saying that when a door closes, somewhere a window opens. Just look around and don’t miss that open window. I was fortunate to not give up and recognize the opportunities in front of me.‘, she poignantly remembers.
She acknowledges how Confucius‘ famous quote, ‘Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life,’ has deeply influenced her career as well as her decision to start all over again.
This quest for self-discovery has not always been easy.
And she reminds us that there are difficult times, and she now and again turns to the ‘Book of Lamentations’ written by the famous Armenian icon Gregory of Narek to help her get through them. The mystical poet and author, who is popularly known as the Doctor of the Church, has been an important part of every Armenian household and has continued to provide solace to many generations.
She counsels, ‘Like the book of Narek advises you to learn to believe …. you always have to look for the open window.’
Jasmine’s inspiring journey to discover her purpose and passion despite all odds has shown us the power and beauty of believing in our dreams. She has taught us the value of not giving in to our fears and remaining open to opportunities that may come knocking when we least expect them.
As an enchanting technologist, who taught us to be hopeful, would say,
‘Apagayi hamar, Jan.‘
‘To the future, my dear.’
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