Every month we ask one individual in our network a few questions about their way into tech, their motivation and their lessons learned.
Let’s start from the beginning: tell us about where you’re from!
I originally come from Vinnitsa, Ukraine and later moved to Kiev. My second home is in Bertha, Minnesota, where, as an exchange student in 2005, I met my second family, being. Since 2008 I have felt home in Oberwil-Lieli, in Switzerland.
What valuable advice did you get from your parents?
My mother taught me to set really high goals and to persevere in achieving them, and also how to fight, literally… ☺ to stand up for myself—a useful skill if you grow up in Ukraine.
My father taught me to be physically strong and emotionally calm because, “we need to take care of our nerves.” He also taught me to be efficient. When I was little he told me, “You need to save your energy, don’t pick up just that one thing to bring it over if you can also take the other thing along in both hands and walk just once.” I have always remembered his words. Maybe he was a bit lazy to move, but I learned a helpful lesson on efficiency: I have a habit of always optimizing everything. This partly answers a question people often ask me, how did I manage to build a successful tech startup while earning my university degrees, raising two children, caring for my friends and family and enjoying life all at the same time. I am still working on the emotionally calm advise. There are certain forces driving me and they are not in any way calm. My second family taught me not to be afraid. Growing up in a post-soviet country, fear mentally blocked many people from aiming for the highest goals. After coming back from the US, I did things most of people would not have even dared to attempt.
How did you become interested in tech?
I became interested in tech when I was between three and five years old. I was fascinated by the little electronic game where a chicken produced eggs and a wolf had to catch them. Since then, I have been fond of all kinds of tech gadgets and different robotic devices that helped lazy people accomplish tasks more efficiently.
What aspects of your work are you proudest of?
At QualySense, the high-tech company I co-founded eight years ago, we have built an amazing team of 35 people and are still growing. The culture and spirit we share in our company is unique. Our team is what gets us up in the morning and motivates us to come to work. I am proud to have made a contribution here.
What drives you at work?
At work I am driven by our mission, ultimately to contribute to the good of our society, doing it by one small, single task after another to build a big picture. With our technology we can really change the foodand agricultural business. It is so exciting what our robots can do! I can’t wait to see them in action worldwide for various agricultural commodities, ensuring the safety and best quality of every single seed, bean or grain by analyzing and sorting them according to their biochemical and physical properties.
What has been your toughest challenge you faced while working in tech?
Our toughest challenge in tech at QualySense, is engineering a disruptive technology and this is not easy, if it was someone else would have already done it. We faced technological challenges that seemed impossible to solves, but we always persevered to find a solution. Secondly, we rely on our bright engineers to develop our disruptive technology, unfortunately some of our engineers left our company at critical moments. Speaking from a woman’s in tech perspective, personally, I have yet to face any challenges, althoughI do not have any training in a technical background. Moreover, my observation is that women are very desired in tech to dilute the testosterone-filled environment and add more value!
What advice would you give other women in tech?
My advice to anyone in tech comes out of the challenges I have faced:
- Persevere and don’t give up when you are stuck with a technological barrier. One morning you will wake up with a fresh perspective and the solution will be obvious.
- Continue innovating to be ahead of competition—this is the only patent that works.
- Treat your people so well that they don’t want to leave, and acknowledge their efforts, celebrate achievements, support them during the difficult times, reward fairly and love them truly.
- Last but not least, take care of your private life, your success is conditional on your happiness, don’t compromise it.