Red Hat's Products and Technologies organization is doing game-changing work in the IT industry, so we're taking a closer look at some of the talented Red Hatters from around the world who are enabling our continued evolution. In showcasing their unique stories, it's clear that there's no one path to finding success as a Red Hatter. For each of us, it's about open collaboration and building something together.
Associate Software Quality Engineer Dita Stehlikova has seen the enablement that comes with open source technology firsthand. “I've had my laptop since my university days, and it constantly had recurring problems. I’d get anxious with every update. Is this going to be the fix for my problem? But each time the issues would come right back. It was quite stressful. So I switched my operating system to Fedora, and it was like a miracle. Those recurring issues just stopped. That laptop still runs like clockwork to this day.
“Looking back, it’s a small thing, but that really was when I saw how incredible the open source model could be. It’s a good system that allows everyone to contribute to making things better. That’s when I fell in love with the concept of open source, and it’s been a big part of my career ever since.”
Looking for a change
Stehlikova didn’t start out looking for a career in IT. “I was working in public accounting,” she remembers. “I liked the company, and the people I worked with were great, but the work itself did not excite me. It wasn’t something that I could see myself doing year over year. But I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do instead.
“At the time there were several campaigns that encouraged women to pursue a career in IT, pushing against the stereotype that working with computers is largely for men. It’s the same ideal that open source is built on: These tools should be available for everyone. I saw a poster encouraging women to explore IT and remembered that I had enjoyed my coding classes in school. That was all the push I needed.”
With a goal now in her mind, Stehlikova set about making it a reality. “I started out with a training program called PyLadies. Once a week after work, I’d go to a class that taught the Python programming language. The teachers and coaches were really generous with their time and expertise. They were all volunteers and were very passionate about open source. I eventually learned that a lot of them were also Red Hatters.”
“I got to know many of Red Hatters over the course of the program. I completed one semester and signed up for another. Then I came back for a third, this time as a coach. You know how you will sometimes meet someone you just click with? When you share the same values, and you feel like they could help you be a better version of yourself? Now imagine feeling that way about a whole group of people. That’s what it was like for me to interact with these Red Hatters. I soon decided that Red Hat was a company where I could really find a home with likeminded people.”
Putting on the fedora
Stehlikova now works for Red Hat in Brno, Czech Republic in Quality Engineering (QE). “I was, of course, scared when I was changing fields. It was something completely new for me. But I felt immediately accepted when I joined Red Hat. I was never told that I couldn’t do this or that. Instead, everyone was very supportive, and they showed me everything that I needed to know. I’m really grateful for their time and patience as I learned about the business.
“I’d been in other organizations that were more hierarchical. ‘You work for us, so you’ll do what is asked of you,’ you know? Red Hat is completely different. At Red Hat, I feel more like a partner than an employee. It’s a group of people coming together to cooperate and help each other grow. That’s not something I’ve experienced elsewhere.”
Helping make things better
Stehlikova found ways to contribute soon after joining Red Hat. “As a new hire, I was given a lot of documentation and manuals to look through as I began to learn the company. The materials were helpful, but from an outsider’s perspective, I saw some opportunities where things could be improved. I soon learned that just accepting things as they are is not something Red Hatters do. My colleagues encouraged me to contact the teams that maintained these documents to offer my feedback and help make them better. I’m now part of an effort called the QE librarians which takes a closer look at our internal documentation and works to make it all better, easier to digest, and more searchable. It’s been really rewarding to help make that improvement.
“I’ve also gotten to work on a lot of events and conferences—usually as a session chair. I even helped create a QE conference here in Brno. That’s been really exciting to participate in. There’s always something new going on and some new, exciting way to contribute. The opportunities are endless. Red Hat always needs new ideas and new people.”
Finding her place
Stehlikova seems to have found work that suits her much better than public accounting.
“Working at Red Hat gives me so many opportunities to learn new things and collaborate with such passionate people," says Stehlikova. "I’m still growing in my career, but I have the freedom to decide for myself what path I will take. I feel very supported to achieve my future goals as I build my skills and knowledge. Here I feel like my opinion matters, and I can contribute more and more as I gain experience. I’d like to be able to pass my knowledge on and help others succeed. And I’m sure Red Hat will give me the opportunity to do just that.