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IWD 2021: The women of LeverageIT

Anastasiia Sydorenko, UI/UX designer

1. What influenced you to get into design?

“My designer route started 5 years ago when I was moving into a new apartment and had great trouble furnishing it. There were no coffee tables that could suit my need! Can you imagine?

I get it, you might say “Hey, is that a big of a deal?”

Of course, it is! Details matter, they do influence every aspect around.

After a quarter of a year living on the furniture websites, I decided to create it on my own. I draw a sketch of 3 hexagon coffee tables that can be assembled into 2 other types of a bigger furniture piece. I’ve carved them on my own and assembled them with my friend.

At this point, when I’ve created a design that satisfies me and suits the user’s needs I feel as I’ve made someone’s life easier. In the same way, the coffee table makes my life better every day.

This is how I feel about the design, it can be exactly what you need if you put your mind to it.”

2. Who inspires you?

“For many years I’ve been receiving inspiration from other designers usually in design communities like Dribbble and Behance. Then I found out about Paula Scher. She is one of the most influential graphic designers in the world, who has developed identity and branding systems for a broad range of clients that includes, among others, Bloomberg, Microsoft, Bausch + Lomb, Coca-Cola, Shake Shack, Perry Ellis, the Museum of Modern Art. I started following her when I wanted to learn something new about business and marketing from another designer than have experience in that.”

3. What are some unique strengths and advantages you bring as a woman in tech?

“I am not sure that is because I am a woman I bring something unique in tech. I think is is more important to be a direct and honest person in your job. Good design happens when you have an open dialogue. Being the designer doesn’t mean you are right or you are wrong. There is no right and wrong — only better and worse. Because of this, make sure you perform plenty of experiments.”

4. Any advice for women who want to break into the tech industry?

“Believe in yourself. There will always be people out there who don’t believe you will make it. Instead of listening to them, listen to yourself. You’ll always regret it if you don’t try.”

Katy Torgovnikov, Managing director

1. What influenced you to get into the tech industry?

“Necessity. I graduated university with a degree in psychology and political science and was serving tables for the next little while. I finally got a job blogging for a company called Site Dudes, they sold websites like hot cakes to small businesses and were starting to get inquiries about social media. This was 2010. I was hired to blog about social media and help out with that social media strategy. So my foray into tech was accidental. But after writing hundreds of posts, I found it interesting and developed some expertise in it.”

2. Who inspires you?

“My mom. She’s a great multi-tasker and has infinite patience. Both of these qualities I find very helpful in my work. Otherwise, my sisters, my friends, and my colleagues.”

3. What are some unique strengths and advantages you bring as a woman in tech?

“In my experience women are by nature empathetic, caring, and nurturing. I find that ability to empathize and put yourself into a user’s experience is very important when thinking through a user’s experience with a product, an ad, or reading website copy. Also listening to understand is important for so many things in tech, this requires patience and desire to understand. Whether you’re working with a team to find the best way to implement a feature, trying to understand a bug that a user is reporting, or listening to a client explain the intricacies of their line of business. Giving people the space to communicate and say things, without interruption and without try to add your own interpretations, is very powerful and useful.”

4. Any advice for women who want to break into the tech industry?

“Our company is an exception to this, but much of tech is still a male-dominated industry. We as women bring a lot of valuable input, remember that depending on your product and market, half or more of your user-base may be female, yet some products are still mostly built by men – inadvertently – for men. Having a balanced perspective and integrating the female perspective (and other perspectives – be it age, race, gender, etc.) will create better products for all those who interact with them.”

Ilana Guttman, Director of website support, illuminea

1. What influenced you to get into web development?

“I’ve always been fascinated with websites since they started becoming popular. The ability to have so much information easily available is a powerful thing.”

2. Who inspires you?

“I’ve drawn bits of inspiration from multiple people, male and female.”

3. What are some unique strengths and advantages you bring as a woman in tech?

“I don’t know that this skill always falls along gender lines, but I try to empathize with what the customer is struggling with or would most want, in order to provide better service. I think that in general women have an easier time doing this than men.”

4. Any advice for women who want to break into the tech industry?

“Go for it! Now more than ever you have tons of allies to encourage and support you to succeed.”

Margalit Brown, Project manager

1. What influenced you to get into web development?

“I never decided, my brain works in a grid, it was only natural for me to become a developer.”

2. Who inspires you?

“Women who put their all into their day jobs but know where their true priorities are (at home with their families).”

3. What are some unique strengths and advantages you bring as a woman in tech?

“Multitasking! As a project manager it is critical to be able to flip between tasks constantly. It’s a special skill we women share :)”

4. Any advice for women who want to break into the tech industry?

“Go for it! It is a great industry with so much opportunity and lots of excitement. If you find the right place to work you can have lots of flexibility (even after covid) which is great for working mothers.”

Louise Zhou, Marketing coordinator

1. What influenced you to get into marketing?

“I graduated with a degree in healthcare which sounds completely detached from the tech industry. However, I think that they are similar in that they both have the goal of helping people improve their quality of life, which is something I’ve always looked for in my career. I chose to go into marketing and tech instead of continuing my career in healthcare because I wanted to help a larger group of people while expressing my creativity through different mediums.”

2. Who inspires you?

“Although fictional, the person who inspires me the most is Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series. She was who I wanted to be as a child and someone I still “look up to”. She is bright, resilient to criticism and also knows the value of building strong relationships and being supportive. I find that these are all traits I have to use in my work every day.”

3. What are some unique strengths and advantages you bring as a woman in tech?

“As a female coming from a minority group, I feel that my life experiences have shaped me to become a resilient worker. I will do whatever I can to support a project and can manage stress without feeling burnt out.”

4. Any advice for women who want to break into the tech industry?

“As someone who wasn’t “born-and-bred” to be a techie, I understand how difficult it is to break into the industry with no prior professional experience. The tech industry is growing very fast, which means that it is important for individuals to grow their skillset and continue challenging themselves to match up to the demand. It may feel impossible sometimes, but I believe that persistence and the willingness to learn are top qualities to have for anyone who wants to work in this industry.”

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