Beyond March: Five Pieces Of Advice From Senior Women In Technology

Meaghan Johnson Forbes Fintech Contributor
I’m a fintech advisor obsessed with customer-centric products
Women in tech Cyprus

Although International Women’s Day and International Women’s Month are technically over, learnings from female technology leaders don’t have to hibernate until next year. During March, inspiration was ripe with various stories and profiles of leaders and their stories. While stories are perhaps the most significant mode of inspiration and help recalibrate goals and objectives, advice tends to find its way deep into the consciousness. It guides the tough day-to-day decisions to be made.

Four Cyprus-based women in leadership roles shared their advice for young women aspiring to become leaders and shed light on the one piece of advice that defined their career. The advice shared by the women leaders brings together the importance of continuous learning and personal growth, the courage to embrace and learn from mistakes, the resilience to persevere against challenges, and the boldness to make decisive actions without fear.

The Power of Expertise

Marina Ilina is the CEO of PIN-UP Global, an international business ecosystem she founded in 2016. PIN-UP Global provides a wide range of services for the gaming industry, including software development, customer service, management, marketing, legal, and financial support. PIN-UP offices are in seven countries worldwide and employ over 2,500 people. In 2022, Ilina established the PIN-UP Foundation, a charitable organization that supports Ukrainians affected by the war. Ilina was recognized as Leader of the Year according to the SBC Awards.

Pin up Marina Ilina
Marina Ilina, CEO of PIN-UP Global

For Ilina, developing a specialist skillset is critical for those women looking to climb the leadership ladder, as “there are no complex back-breaking projects. There is only a lack of expertise.” Ilina advises women to devote time to personal and team improvements through internal and external training. “If you are convinced of your skills, choose your direction, leave doubts behind, and move towards your goal. It will never be easy, but we are here not to relax but to change the world of technology.”

Embracing Mistakes and Difficulty

Valentina Bagniya is the CMO at SOFTSWISS, a leading tech company in the iGaming industry. Valentina joined the company in 2020 and established a full-service marketing department from the ground up within six months. At present, Bagniya leads a team of more than 50 professionals across various countries. Focused on crafting innovative strategies in key markets like Western Europe, LATAM, and Africa, Bagniya has guided her team to become a standard in B2B iGaming. Their excellence has earned accolades, including the Brand IDOL Award and EGR Marketing.

Softswiss Valentina Bagniya
Valentina Bagniya, CMO at SOFTSWISS

Bagniya recalls a prominent piece of advice she was given at a pivotal point in her career and explained, “At one point in my career, I was aiming for career growth and thinking about leaving a big global brand for another company that offered me an opportunity that I sought to gain being a pretty young but ambitious professional. Of course, I discussed my quit with the General Manager. And he gave me a priceless piece of advice. Becoming a true marketing professional is not about getting titles. It involves going through many marketing challenges, testing different approaches, and making mistakes. Some years might be really successful, while others might not be. To get better, it is important to carefully look at these different experiences and learn from the mistakes we make. This idea stuck with me.”

According to Bagniya, the key to finding the positive in mistakes is accepting that failures are essential for professional growth. Bagniya advised, “Acceptance is not about making excuses or trying to defend ourselves when things go wrong. It is about being brave enough to say, ‘I messed up, I was wrong’. It transforms the understanding of failure from loss to an opportunity for improvement. No matter what happens, the main focus is always on improving. By the way, I ended up deciding to stay with the company.”

Never Give Up

Elena Grigorian is a seasoned professional with over two decades of experience in the gaming industry, including an eight-year tenure in a top role at Disney’s video games division. Recognized for her marketing and strategic management expertise, she now serves as the CEO of MY.GAMES. Grigorian has significantly contributed to the company’s success, driving a 14-fold increase in marketing efficacy and quadrupling business growth by leading a marketing team that capitalized on the potential of over 70 games.

My.games Elena Grigorian
Elena Grigorian, CEO of MY.GAMES

Central to Grigorian’s advice is the power of moving in the right direction. The best piece of advice she received was to “Never give up.” Grigorian attributes this guiding principle as the compass throughout her journey: “The principle reminds me to remain resilient in the face of challenges. It’s a reminder that no matter how tough things seem, there’s always a way forward if you keep pushing and refusing to stop.”

Keep Moving Forward

When asked what advice Grigorian would give young women aspiring to become tech leaders, she continued her theme with movement, highlighting the power of always moving further, especially when the steps are small. Grigorian said, “The key is never to stand still – keep moving, even in small steps. Don’t panic or wait for the perfect moment of clarity if the final goal is not yet visible. Instead, focus on doing what you can in the present moment. Over time, the horizon will become clearer, and your movement will help you gain clarity.”

Have No Fear With Decision Making

Elena Dolia serves as the Chief Administrative Officer at AdTech Holding, where she has been a pioneering force in establishing a transparent corporate culture and nurturing open dialogue in the tech sector. Dolia’s ascent from recruitment to the executive suite exemplifies her dedication to ethical practices and inclusivity. Dolia joined AdTech Holding in 2018 after having diverse experience in large companies. She progressed from a recruiter to an HR business partner, tackling responsibilities like recruitment, brand development, and forging critical partnerships.

Adtech Elena Dolya
Elena Dolia, Chief Administrative Officer, AdTech Holding

Dolia cited a piece of advice often heard from other leaders, “Don’t ask for permission, ask for forgiveness.” This principle is at the core of Dolia’s leadership path. She stated, “I believe in this: we need to be brave and do what we think is right, not be afraid to make decisions, and even if the decision is wrong, it will become our experience. Don’t be scared of mistakes; we all do them! That is how we get experience, and no path to the leadership role is easy, but it is worth it.”

The Future Is Bright

The four leaders’ profound message is clear: leadership and success in technology demand a commitment to developing one’s expertise, an openness to reflection and learning from failures, and the audacity to step out of one’s comfort zone and make impactful decisions.

These prominent tech leaders are highly optimistic about the future of women in leadership. Dolia concluded the interview by mentioning, “A woman’s power is limitless. A modern woman continues to combine all social roles, including actively building a career in tech, banking, politics, and others. I am confident that in the next 30-50 years, we will see an even more significant increase in the representation of women in all initially ‘non-female’ industries.”

Bagniya gave foundational advice that women rarely hear, discussing the need to remove stereotypes. Her parting advise is powerful. “Forget about stereotypes and borders; believe in yourself and your power because only you choose to set limits or see limitless opportunities.”

The future is bright, and as these leaders suggest, the power of women is limitless.

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