Diversity talk: Exec reveals her secret to success — Become comfortable with change
Women are underrepresented in the tech sector —myth or reality? In addition to the Women in Tech survey, we also launched a diversity series aimed at bringing the most inspirational and powerful women in the tech scene to your attention. Today, we’d like you to meet Oksana Sokolovsky, CEO of Io-Tahoe.
Is tech a boys-only club? So it seems. But the light of smart and powerful women is finally shining bright. We root for excellence and justice and, above all, we want meritocracy to win. This is our way of giving women in tech a shout-out.
A research study by The National Center for Women & Information Technology showed that “gender diversity has specific benefits in technology settings,” which could explain why tech companies have started to invest in initiatives that aim to boost the number of female applicants, recruit them in a more effective way, retain them for longer, and give them the opportunity to advance. But is it enough?
Women in Tech — The Survey
We would like to get to the bottom of why gender diversity remains a challenge for the tech scene. Therefore, we invite you all to fill out our diversity survey. Share your experiences with us!
Your input will help us identify the diversity-related issues that prevent us from achieving gender equality in technology workplaces.
Without further ado, we would like to introduce Oksana Sokolovsky, CEO of Io-Tahoe.
Oksana Sokolovsky, CEO of Io-Tahoe
Oksana Sokolovsky is an ex-Wall Street executive turned entrepreneur; an experienced CEO who has achieved early stage acquisition. Sokolovsky is passionate about developing disruptive technology. Her technology expertise combined with business acumen, allows her to bring a unique perspective to developing innovative products, commercializing them, and taking them to market. She is a technologist with experience running large IT departments within leading global Financial Services firms, establishing and transforming technology functions, and leading global high performing teams. In her 20+ years technology career, Sokolovsky has held a number of senior roles at JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Deutsche Bank, as well as United Health Care, Instinet, and Barnes and Nobles.com. Most recently, Sokolovsky built disruptive data discovery technology, which was acquired by Centrica’s Io-Tahoe.
What got you interested in technology?
I fell in love with technology after I realized how powerful and enabling it can be. For a while, I wanted to be a Clinical Psychologist and pursued that career track at University. However, I realized that while I loved working with people in a clinical setting, I also loved solving problems at a much broader level and saw technology as a huge opportunity for doing so. My passion for IT developed in the mid-1990s and I pursued my MS in Computer Science and started my career in Technology. Since then my passion has just grown as I see modern technologies constantly evolving, growing and enabling achievements that were beyond our imagination even 20 years ago. I strongly believe that technology will continue to change the world, and I want to be part of driving the positive change that technology brings.
I’m sure everyone, at some point in their career, has experienced moments when it felt as though opportunities were taken away or were not made available to them. In my opinion, no one is capable of stopping or preventing another professional or colleague from learning or growing professionally. I have always believed that your life and career is what you make it. There are so many ways to learn and extract knowledge, either professionally or personally, and we should empower ourselves and others to do so. When life presents obstacles, I look for ways to move forward. With strong self-belief, surrounding oneself with the right people, and setting concrete objectives, everything and anything is possible, and no one can stop you.
A day in Oksana’s life
I’m the CEO and COO of Io-Tahoe LLC. I love the pace and the high energy of a start-up environment and the challenges that come with taking a start-up to the next level. My passion is around building a high-energy, high-quality team that is not afraid of the challenges that many start-ups face. I enjoy educating the industry on our product, actively engaging with the market, customers and analysts and seeing the awareness of our brand and product grow within the industry. Having spent over 20 years in IT at some of the world’s largest investment banks, where I was responsible for driving transformation, I take great satisfaction in making my vision a reality and seeing Io-Tahoe help organizations address their data discovery and data management challenges.
I’m passionate about developing disruptive technology so, to have co-founded Rokitt Inc in 2014 with my business partner and CTO, Rohit Mahajan; and to be able to bring a product to market which subsequently achieved early stage acquisition by Centrica’s subsidiary Io-Tahoe, is without a doubt a proud moment for me, personally. Most of all, I’m proud to be part of the amazing team that made this journey possible.
Why aren’t there more women in tech?
This is a great question! It’s one which probably requires an in-depth look at the decisions girls and women make from the subjects they study at school, to university & college degree choices, to the types of organizations they work for and their roles at these organizations. Obviously, I can’t speak for all women, everyone has different experiences so it’s not possible to provide a definitive answer. However, I will say that at Io-Tahoe we are fostering a culture that embraces and supports talent; attracting and elevating women to key roles which are crucial to our business.
Gender diversity definitely brings a different perspective to the table. There are studies that show that Technology organizations with good gender balance achieve more creativity, more financial and social impact. To me, it’s not an issue of men or women at the table, to me it’s a matter of diversity of opinions, ideas and styles. When organizations are diverse, they have much broader perspectives and more open environments leading to both internal company benefits and a positive external impact on society.
It always takes time to affect change, but I’m hopeful that small incremental changes, like the approach we have taken at Io-Tahoe will help to make a difference. To be honest, change is already here. Even over the past five years, we have seen more and more women enter and rise in technology, become leaders and continue enablement of many other women on their own journey. Women in IT continue to rise in the corporate and entrepreneurial setting and I really think change is already here.
Again, I can’t speak for all women, but when I discuss these issues with my female colleagues and peers, a common theme always comes up – that’s the challenge of work/home-life balance. I do believe that creating professional flexibility to support this could help women in tech, but also in other industries where the gender balance is weighted towards males. I would encourage more women to work on raising their profiles and articulate precisely what they want to achieve. This will help raise the awareness around them and overcome some of the obstacles they may face.
Tips & tricks
I would give this advice to anyone really – don’t be afraid to take risks, don’t worry about challenging the status quo and become comfortable with change – it’s the only constant in life, professionally (and personally).
It’s also important to remember that business opportunities can come from the most unexpected places or people, always evaluate such opportunities as they could set your career on a completely different course or trajectory. Lastly, always strive for success. Remember – nothing is impossible!
Don’t miss our Women in Tech profiles:
- “Technology reflects the people who make it”
- “In the right company, working in tech is a great career”
- Why women fall out of the tech pipeline
- Breaking the mold: ‘It’s not that you’re good — it’s that you’re female’
- How to avoid the culture of male programmers
- Creating an equal playing field is about more than just teaching someone coding skills
- The more women you see in STEM, the less intimidating it is for others to join
- The tech industry tends to lose women along the way. Change is underway
- How to get (and stay) into the tech industry: Tips & tricks for women
- Transitioning into a tech career? Silicon Valley culture is one of the biggest initial obstacles
- Abby Kearns: “Diversity ensures continuous innovation”
- “In technology, you become a lifelong learner — More women should embrace this career”
- Cultural impact is not driven by gender, but by diversity
- Everyday superheroes: “I don’t have a role model, my career was based on my mistakes”
- Diversity talk: For tech, it’s less about a pipeline problem and more of a marketing problem
- Diversity talk: It’s important to receive support from tech communities
- Everyday superheroes: Women just need to see more of us — techie women
- Anyone who wants to learn and grow won’t continue in an industry that tells them they are stupid
- There is too much allowance for tolerating toxic people in tech
- Coding myths and how finding communities like Hear Me Code helps you learn best
- 3 strategies to try out if you want to support women in tech
- Young women carry less career gender bias and more media influence
- Women are often pigeonholed into “soft skill” roles and pushed away from engineering
- Diversity talk: Many women suffer from the impostor syndrome
- How to succeed in tech: Shutterstock’s Rashi Khurana gives her tips
- Diversity talk: Using lingo is making tech sound harder than it really is
- Diversity talk: “We can’t expect men to hand us equality on a silver platter”
- How to succeed in tech: Agnès Crepet gives her tips
- “Many people still need to be taught that diversity is more than just a trend”
- “Many companies lack the infrastructure & career growth opportunities to support female employees”
- “Diverse teams can help prevent unhealthy competition that occurs sometimes in male-dominated teams”
- How to succeed in tech: Testlio’s Kristel Kruustük shares her tips
- “As the tech field becomes cloud-based, the flexibility and remote work culture will grow”
- How to win the diversity battle: Tips from Atlassian’s Molly Hellerman
- Diversity talk: “Women should not be herded into a career to meet quotas”
- “The tech industry can move even faster by increasing the diversity of talent”
- Diversity talk: Even if your team is not very diverse, what matters is that they value you
- Diversity talk: Exec reveals her secret to success — Always be curious
- How to win the diversity battle: Tips from GitLab’s Barbie Brewer
- Diversity talk: Tips from Lisk’s Gina Contrino on how to succeed in tech
- “The combination of tech IQ and people EQ can set you apart in the tech world”
- “Mentorship, acceptance, and trust are really important in fostering gender diversity in the workplace”
- The tech industry is not solely responsible for pushing gender diversity
- “There isn’t enough clarity on what it means to work in tech and to be a woman in tech”