Navigating the Tech Ladder: Auksė’s Path from QA to Head of Product

Auksė Žirgulė’s path through the tech industry started with a spark ignited in school and evolved into a leadership role as Head of Product @ Websites Builder. Let’s explore her story, from mastering the intricacies of quality assurance to championing user experience and ultimately steering product growth. As we delve deeper you’ll discover not only the essential skills for aspiring IT professionals but also her perspective on the changing landscape for women in tech.

The article is prepared in partnership with Hostinger.

Aukse Zirgule, Hostinger, Women In Tech Blog

Can you share your journey into the tech industry and specifically into your current role?

My IT journey began in school where I was inspired by engaging lessons from my IT teacher, especially in multimedia. Although my IT studies didn’t meet my expectations, I found my passion in quality assurance. After gaining basic skills, I enhanced my technical knowledge through various roles in different companies (during this period I also had a chance to work as a teacher in Sourcery Academy for kids, I was impressed by Monika Katkute and her project idea) before joining Hostinger as a QA Lead. 

Driven by curiosity, I focused not only on ensuring specific functions’ quality but also on improving overall user experience and customer satisfaction. Discipline, instilled by my mother since childhood, has helped me deliver good results (I’ll admit, sometimes I feel an excessive sense of ownership where it’s not necessary).

This drive led me to become a product owner for a cross-functional team, and later, I got the opportunity to be responsible for the entire product growth. Embracing both freedom and responsibility, I’ve gained valuable insights and continue to learn and grow as Head of Product.

What skills are essential for someone starting in IT?

I would say everything begins with curiosity—it’s the most crucial factor in all fields. Also, without sounding too cliché, you need to genuinely enjoy what you’re doing and what you want to learn. Curiosity and a desire to learn lead you to new opportunities. In the IT field, you should start by mastering technical skills specific to your area, and then practice diligently. Moreover, as you build your knowledge from scratch, it’s essential to develop soft skills along the way.

What challenges have you faced as a woman in tech, and how have you overcome them? 

The majority of challenges I faced were indeed at university, where some professors demonstrated clear stereotypes about women in IT. Nevertheless, I remained resilient. Though it was a tough period I think this attitude helped me  – what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger!

How do you see the role of women evolving in the tech industry? What changes have you observed during your career?

The role of women in the tech industry is evolving positively, with more opportunities, and initiatives.  More and more women are taking roles in IT, and that’s great! 

What resources or networks have you found invaluable for your professional growth?

Marty Cagan is a constant source of inspiration for me. Additionally, I enjoy listening to The Diary of a CEO and Lenny’s podcasts from time to time. Another invaluable resource for my professional growth is our clients; understanding their needs and struggles helps shape our product for future growth. Hostinger itself serves as an exceptional resource, as we regularly share innovations, best practices, and lessons learned within the company. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by such intelligent colleagues from whom I can learn.

What advice could you give to women starting out in IT? Maybe there is an advice that you received that impacted your career?

I’ve never been afraid of hard work in my career. I believe that if you’re really committed, you can learn a lot, but it does require putting in a lot of dedication. Some new beginnings are easier than others, and that’s okay. My advice is to start by mastering one field, and then explore new opportunities. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and work hard—it sets a strong foundation for the future. With a solid foundation, it becomes easier to transition between different areas within IT.