Leader’s Insights: Elena Georgiou Strouthos

Elena Georgiou Strouthos, Cocoon Creations

The Future interrogates -kindly- the high management floor

Welcome to the Leader’s Insights, a place where The Future, asks the simplest, yet, the most interesting questions to the executives of well-known companies, startups and innovators.

This time we talk with Elena Georgiou Strouthos a highly influential figure in the tech industry, recognized as one of Forbes Cyprus’ Top 20 Women in Tech. She is the co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Cocoon Creations, a Cyprus-based company known for its bespoke digital solutions, including complex mobile applications and web systems. With a strong academic background in Computer Science from the University of Cyprus and the University of Manchester, Elena has led her company to serve over 100 clients across 14 countries, emphasizing performance, quality, and user experience​.

Beyond her technical contributions, Elena is a dedicated advocate for gender equality in the tech industry. She hosts the “Breaking the 20%” podcast, which tackles the under-representation of women in technology and celebrates the often-overlooked contributions of women in computer science. At Cocoon Creations, Elena ensures gender balance by maintaining a workforce where 50% of the software engineers are women, significantly above the industry average of 20%​.

Elena’s work not only advances her company’s success but also serves as a powerful model for addressing gender disparities in the tech sector. By promoting early exposure to coding and creating supportive networks for women in technology, she is helping to break down barriers and pave the way for a more inclusive industry​.

Let’s see what Elena has to say…

1. Do you remember your first day on the job at Cocoon Creations?

There have been multiple “first days” for me and Cocoon Creations. I remember quitting my corporate job to start Cocoon Creations and then realizing that I didn’t actually have anything to do since the company didn’t have any customers. I remember moving into an actual office for the first time, instead of working from home, and how that made the company feel more real. I also remember hiring our first employee and how that, in turn, made things feel even more real.

2.  What is more difficult: being interviewed to join a team or doing the interviews yourself?

As the founder of a company, I haven’t been interviewed for a very long time. I’m not sure how well I would perform now, as I’ve become quite independent. Interviewing others is challenging, but with enough experience, you start to learn what to look for and how to evaluate candidates effectively.

3.  What do you most value in your employees?

I value my employees’ ability to take initiative and challenge the status quo. Our growth as a company depends on continuously questioning our methods and finding better, more effective ways of working. I always encourage employees to provide suggestions and question our processes, and I am very happy when they come back with ideas for improvement.

4.  Which is a motto/quote you use in your work?

“Embrace Uncertainty, Pursue Learning.” In a rapidly evolving world, the acknowledgement that we don’t know everything is not just a sign of humility but a powerful catalyst for growth. Embracing the continuous journey of learning new things is essential for personal and professional development. This mindset helps us stay adaptable, responsive, and innovative.

5.  If you were back to the start, what would you advise yourself for a great career?

If I was back at the beginning, I would give 2 advises to myself:

a) Let go: Trying to control everything can lead to burnout and stifle creativity. Delegation is crucial because it empowers your team, fosters a sense of ownership, and allows you to focus on higher-level tasks. By trusting your team and giving them responsibility, you create a more productive and innovative work environment.

b) Seek Balance: I would advise myself to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Burnout can hinder progress, so it’s important to take care of your mental and physical well-being.

6.  How do you pump up your creativity?

I think the best thing I do to pump up my creativity is that I read a lot and I also listen to a lot of podcasts. Exposure to new information, ideas, and perspectives is an excellent method to see the world in different ways and maintain creativity.

7.  What is a talent you would like to have?

A talent I would love to have is the ability to play music and sing. Music has always fascinated me with its power to evoke emotions, tell stories, and bring people together. Unfortunately, despite my enthusiasm, I’ve never been able to master an instrument or carry a tune. Being able to create and perform music would be incredibly fulfilling, allowing me to express myself in ways words alone cannot. I admire musicians for their creativity, skill, and the joy they bring to others, and I wish I could share in that experience.

8.  How do you balance work and personal life?

Balancing work and personal life is a challenge that I often struggle with. My commitments at work and being a parent to two kids consume a significant amount of my time and energy, leaving little space for personal downtime. Despite these challenges, I make a conscious effort to separate work from my personal life, especially on weekends. I prioritize spending quality time with my children through various activities, which helps us bond and create lasting memories together. While I don’t always achieve the perfect balance, these moments with my family are invaluable and provide a much-needed break from the demands of my professional life.

9.  What are the top five foods you like in Cyprus?

As a Cypriot, Souvlaki is my number one choice. We also have excellent fish taverns, and fresh fish is always a great option. Halloumi, another traditional favourite, is a must-try. For the summer, I recommend trying Mahalepi to anyone who hasn’t yet—it’s refreshing. Finally, although not traditionally Cypriot, Greek salad is something I always enjoy.

10.  Can you name your top five favourite places in Cyprus?

  • Mackenzie Beach in Larnaca: An excellent beach to visit with young kids.
  • Caledonia Waterfalls in the Troodos Mountains.
  • Nicosia Old City.
  • Blue Lagoon in Akamas.
  • The picturesque villages in the Troodos Mountains, like Omodos and Kakopetria.

11.  Which personality, throughout history, do you admire most?

The amazing rear admiral Grace Hopper known as Grandma Cobol, The Grand Old Lady of Software and the Queen of Code. She was one of the first programmers on the Harvard Mark I computer. 

She developed the first compiler for the first programming language, which was a foundational step in the transition from raw programming in machine code to the use of human-friendly programming languages.

She was the first to devise the theory of machine-independent programming languages and was instrumental in the development of COBOL (Common Business-Oriented Language), one of the first high-level programming languages designed to be machine-independent and accessible to business users and engineers alike. She was also the one who popularized the terms “bug” and “debugging” in computing.

12.  Who is your favourite author/book that helped your career?

One of my favourite books is Innovators by Walter Isaacson. This book explores the fascinating stories of individuals who played pivotal roles in the development of computers and the Internet. What makes this book especially impactful is Isaacson’s detailed narration of how collaboration among diverse and talented teams led to the groundbreaking innovations that have shaped the modern digital landscape. The lessons in creativity, perseverance, and teamwork are profound.

13.  Where would you advise our readers to go this summer?

Enjoy the summer! Cyprus, although really hot, is an amazing place to be during the summer.


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