Logo image spelling the text iAlja, with a magenta-green flame hovering above the initial i instead of the usual dot. The i is magenta, the rest of the text black.

Alja Isaković

Improving tech & education with
imagination innovation inclusivity

A portrait of Alja Isaković looking directly at the camera with a half smile. Alja has short pink hair, and is wearing light pink glasses and a yellow polo shirt.

Hello, humans – and robots –, I am Alja, a human living in Ljubljana, Slovenia. I suppose you're mainly here to learn about my work, so I'll try not to talk about my cats (too much). My name is pronounced Aalyah, in case you were wondering, or you can refer to me with my pronouns she/they.

My passion is to imagine a more inclusive future in which tech innovation supports learning and community building, helps us take better care of each other and our planet, and brings joy and playfulness into our lives.

What am I currently up to?

My current focus is on:

  • making tech ethics more accessible at Tethix;
  • developing ResponsibleTech.Work, an open-source project that offers practical tools for responsible product development;
  • volunteering at ClimateAction.Tech, a global tech worker community for systemic climate action;
  • writing & creating content about these topics on my blog.

I am also open to consulting and other opportunities related to responsible tech and/or education. You can visit my LinkedIn profile if you're looking for a list of my experiences in tech, education, and community building, or keep scrolling to learn more about my approach.

Want to get in touch? Email me at alja@ialja.com.

Screenshot of a pixel 2D world, with avatars sitting around the campfire in a clearing. Statues with values surround the campfire on a grassy field.
Alja Isaković built with LEGO bricks in the style of LEGO BrickHeadz sets. The brick-built Alja is standing in an office built out of LEGO, with a mug in her hand and an orange LEGO cat looking at the mug.

So, what exactly am I?

I've been called a product manager, community builder, educator, consultant, and more. Unlike my cats, I don't easily fit into boxes. But I am great at figuring out how the contents of your box can be combined in new ways to create something better.

I might be able to help you if you're looking for a multi-passionate systems thinker with a strong understanding of technology and how people learn. Just like I love exploring how different pieces in my LEGO collection can be reused in innovative ways, I can help you imagine new approaches that will be good for business and take care of people and the planet.

And while I am a tool-agnostic problem solver, I make sure to always bring elements of imagination, innovation, and inclusivity to my work.

imagination

Black mirrors are not inevitable. We have the power – and responsibility – to imagine and shape more inclusive rainbow mirror futures. And ensure that technology is not used to farm and exploit our attention and labor, but rather to support our wellbeing, strengthen communities, and tackle complex challenges facing humanity in this century.

Helping people imagine a better relationship with technology has been the focus of my work in the past couple of years. Whether it's by introducing new metaphors for ethics in the work I do with Tethix, making it easier for tech workers to commit to better outcomes through Pledge Works, or building collaborative virtual spaces such as the Responsible Tech Library.

I have always found inspiration for my work in different disciplines and storytelling mediums, such as video games, fairy tales, and other forms of fiction. And I can always explain complex concepts with LEGO bricks, to the delight of kids of all ages.

Screenshot of a pixel 2D world showing islands in Training Bay, with Alja's avatar standing in front of a bridge connecting the islands.
A hand holding a mobile phone with an app that shows the air quality as measured by IoT devices blurred in the background.

innovation

As an intrepid explorer of new technologies, I enjoy riding the cutting edge with a critical eye. In the past two decades I've worn different hats, but my go-to is that of a fast learner, early adopter, and tech explainer. I enjoy poking and prodding emerging tech, so I can help people understand its limitations and opportunities.

Unsurprisingly, this led me to join and found several early stage tech startups, with a short detour in academia on the side. As a startup co-founder, I've gained a good understanding of the business and funding part of innovation, and have also enjoyed advising other startup founders.

And while I am quite happy to offer advice on the latest gadgets and tech trends, I always put people over frameworks and believe that responsibility should be a crucial part of the innovation process. Preferably as early as possible, but never too late to start.

inclusivity

About ten years ago, I got fed up with being the only women in the room at tech events and with startups ignoring half of their potential market. I started organizing free programming workshops for women in my community, and speaking up for the importance of greater diversity in our industry.

I am also the founder of Europe Code Week, a European Commission-supported grassroots initiative, which aims to demystify programming. The movement now reaches millions of people in over 80 countries each year and counts Apple, Google and others among its key supporters.

Given the power technology plays in our lives, I believe it's our responsibility to make tech more accessible and inclusive. More inclusive tech is good for business, but also necessary to shape a better future for humanity. I see inclusivity as an essential part of innovation and the key to unlocking our collective imagination, which is why I bring accessibility and diversity to the forefront of every project.

A large group of mostly women who attended the Django Girls free programming workshop in Ljubljana. The workshop attendees and mentors are posing on stairs and smiling and waving at the camera.

Meet my cats

Alright, I tried (not very hard), but I also want to talk about my cats. Cats rule the Internet and bring joy to our video calls. They remind me of how important it is to rest, be present and playful, and appreciate nature. Besides, you're very likely to meet one of my furry companions during my meetings, so you might as well learn something about them.

Active meeting crashers

Blink the Determined (2012)

A lover of routines, can often be found hissing at the younger ones who forget to respect boundaries.

 
A small tabby caramel-brown Devon Rex cat with greenish eyes, loafing on a green plaid blanket, and looking at the camera with her head held up high in a curious expression.

Kenzi the Curious (2021)

Meticulously observing my every move, most likely to start answering my emails at some point.

 
A medium-sized orange tabby Devon Rex cat with white patches in front of his body and orange eyes, lying on a dark grey cushion and trying to look innocent.

Happy the Entertainer (2022)

Usually up to no good and most likely to crash my meetings for an emergency cuddle session.

Sadly retired

 
The face of a long-haired orange tabby Maine Coon cat with white patches in front of his body, green-orange eyes, with his head tilted slightly to the right.

Epic the Wise (2009 – 2021)

Never liked meetings, but Epi is fondly remembered as a loyal companion and dedicated fly hunter.

About this website

This website was designed and coded by yours truly. No fancy frameworks, just plain old HTML and CSS to keep things light. I did my best to compress all images and keep the digital footprint of this website low.

I'm not using any cookies or analytics because I don't believe in collecting data just because we can.

While I did have some fun with the design, I adjusted the font settings and colors with accessibility in mind. I used accessibility checkers to improve the website and aimed to write helpful descriptive text for images. I might further improve the design with dark mode support at some point, but I struggle with bright text on dark backgrounds due to keratoconus, so I decided to go with a lighter design first.

The choice of fonts was intentional and inspired by the page Feminist Fonts. I am using the Cheery Swash font by Nataliya Kasatkina for headings, and Palanquin by Pria Ravichandran for other text.

Other resources that helped me along the way – and that you might find useful as well – are: google-webfonts-helper, CSS Generators, CSS filter generator.

And yes, this is the level of detail and care I put into everything I do, which is why I prefer to say no if we're not the right fit. But if all the cats and bright colors didn't make you click away, I'd love to chat and discover how we can make the world a better place together. You can send me a friendly email at alja@ialja.com.