1. How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I was born in the USSR but my childhood experience came when it was broken into many countries. This was a time of huge 180-degree changes in the lives of many families, coming from the stability under socialism, where everything was provided or granted, to the breakdown that caused 95% of the people in Russia to become poor overnight during the shift to capitalism. However, my parents were tough and taught me to persevere without complaint, and to remember that everything that’s happening is temporary. So, on the flip side, this became a time of opportunity if you were willing to dream big and work hard. For me, as a child and teenager “working hard” meant focusing on getting the best education possible. As a result, I achieved diplomas with honors in both high school and university. I also participated in many after-school programs and activities as the leader and organizer. I was quite focused, and even as far back as high school graduation, I was 100% certain that I wanted to build software and do something great that nobody in the world had ever done before.
2. How has your previous employment experience aided your tenure at Reltio?
I believe I had the optimal combination of skills and knowledge and was in the right place at the right time to become a technical co-founder of Reltio as the chief architect. I had been a PhD student conducting scientific research in the area of Graph database technology, and had developed in-depth knowledge and experience in Master Data Management (MDM) as well, so I well-understood the strengths and weaknesses of existing solutions. Further, I had become a successful software developer and architect with a passion for building elegant solutions. As well, during previous employment I was fortunate to have built a strong network, which enabled me to identify the best engineers to help create the Reltio Cloud, which is a Modern Data Management Platform as a Service (PaaS), and data-driven applications that people can use every day to gain insights and actions from their data assets.
3. What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Reltio?
I’ve been with Reltio from day one, and it’s been an exhilarating journey so far. We’ve been through it all together, from early brainstorming in coffee shops, to preparing scientific white papers highlighting the use of distributed systems and graph databases, to building the first proofs of concepts (POCs). Then, when the time came to bring in early customers and go “live” with Reltio, we began to scale the team and the infrastructure to support many customers and their needs. There were various challenges every step of the way, but the common one was how to think “out of box” and innovate to take on the business problems customers were facing that nobody else had been able to solve before.
4. What advice can you offer to women who want a career in your industry?
First, forget the stereotape that IT is a male dominated industry. It’s not. There’s no difference between what a man or woman is capable, some of the highest profile CEOs in technology are women. The key is to bring your passion to what ever you’re doing.
5. What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career to date?
I remember the advice that my parents gave me as a child, to dream big and work hard. That’s the most important lesson I’ve learned in my career, and it’s the formula that really works.
6. How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Maintaining a work/life balance isn’t always easy…not only am I the VP of Platform Product Management at Reltio, a job that’s extremely demanding, but I’m also a wife and mother of a 1-year old son. The two main things that help me: (1) I separate my work and personal life as if there’s a firewall between the two; that way, when I’m working I’m 100% present and focused, and when I’m with my family they get my time, my mind, and of course my heart; and (2) I have a great team around me, and we help and support one another.
7. What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
I think the biggest issue for women in the workplace is that it’s harder to build relationships, in part because we tend to have different interests and passions outside of work… that makes work as the main topic for discussion with our male counterparts 🙂
8. How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
I’ve been lucky to have been surrounded with outstanding people as role models and they’ve provided guidance at various stages in my career path. I’m always willing to listen, ready to learn, and open to feedback. Right now I’m making the transition from chief architect to an executive role in product management.
9. Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
There are a lot of famous female leaders that we can learn from, but I’d like to share an example of my own personal leader. That would be my grandmother. She was a 20-year-old student at University when World War II started. Right away, she volunteered to go into the army as a nurse and actively helped during many battles, risking her life. After the war, she went back to University to finish her education and began teaching English at Medical University. In her career, she was a Dean of a faculty for over 40 years; she wrote books that are used at Medical Universities in Russia even today; and when she was 90 she still had students come to her house for private lessons. She is an outstanding lady with strong moral principles–principles that led her to risk her life to help people–and she was a great leader in her area. She left her trace in this world, always stayed active, and always had time for her family. A lot of things to learn from. A great mentor.
Incidentally, at Reltio we go out of our way to focus on an environment for women in the workplace. We’ve even named our conference rooms after famous female scientists. Anything is possible when you have the support of your colleagues.
10. What do you want Reltio to accomplish in the next year?
In the next year, we are focused on increasing our market footprint with customers and by serving additional vertical industries. We’re very excited about the future potential, and believe we’ve built a breakthrough solution in the data-driven world and the next big Modern Data Management Platform as a Service.