Women Inspiring Women: How Two Tech Leaders Were Encouraged to Hit New Professional Heights

From the realities of representation to the power of encouragement, women are helping other women rise to leadership in the tech industry.

Written by Dana Cassell
Published on Mar. 09, 2024
Women Inspiring Women: How Two Tech Leaders Were Encouraged to Hit New Professional Heights
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International Women’s Day began in 1911, when over one million women and men attended rallies across Europe campaigning for women's rights to work, vote, be trained, to hold public office and end discrimination.

Since then, the celebration has taken on a tone of triumph, marking the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women around the globe. To honor the 2024 celebration of International Women’s Day, Built In SF asked two women in tech to tell us about the women who’ve inspired their careers.

Roshi Razavi, senior product designer at Udemy, quickly named a former supervisor as being pivotal in her professional growth. Marianne, Razavi’s supervisor, was intentional about making her leadership inclusive.

In a field like UX design, where diverse perspectives are paramount, cultivating an environment that celebrates differences is very valuable,” Razavi said.

Rebecca Bacon, head of financial institutions at Upgrade, has been inspired by her company’s co-founder, Adelina Grozdanova. Grozdanova’s persistent pursuit of success influenced Bacon’s own leadership style.

“This tenacity and resilience have been fundamental to my professional success and personal happiness,” Bacon said.

On this International Women’s Day, we celebrate these women inspiring women.

 

Roshi Razavi
Senior Product Designer • Udemy

Udemy is leading online skills marketplace and learning platform where more than 69 million students lear from an extensive library of 210,000 courses taught by expert instructors in over 75 different languages. 

 

Looking back on your career so far, is there a woman who has consistently inspired you?

Absolutely. Reflecting on my career journey, I’ve been fortunate to encounter several remarkable women who have consistently inspired and shaped my perspective as a UX designer. However, one individual stands out prominently; Marianne, my former supervisor, who was a true inspiration and pivotal in my professional growth.

First and foremost, Marianne embodied the essence of inclusive leadership. In a field like UX design, where diverse perspectives are paramount, cultivating an environment that celebrates differences is very valuable. Marianne’s commitment to valuing and recognizing varied viewpoints fostered innovation by inviting participation from everyone.

What truly set Marianne apart, however, was her remarkable resilience. Women in leadership positions often navigate challenges and confront barriers unique to their gender. In the face of adversity, Marianne exhibited unwavering determination and tenacity. 

Her ability to rise above setbacks and persevere through difficulties still inspires me. Witnessing Marianne navigate her career with resilience instilled in me a sense of admiration and served as a personal motivator.

 

Udemy
Udemy

 

How have you incorporated the lessons and achievements from her life and career into your own?

Incorporating the lessons from Marianne’s career into my own has been a transformative and ongoing process. One of the key aspects I've embraced from Marianne is the value of resiliency in anything I set out to do. Navigating challenges with steadfast determination, as I witnessed her do, has influenced my approach to overcoming obstacles. 

Rather than viewing setbacks as roadblocks, I now see them as opportunities for growth and learning. Marianne’s resilience has become an integral part of my problem-solving toolkit, allowing me to tackle complex UX design challenges with a more tenacious and adaptable mindset.

 

Marianne’s resilience has become an integral part of my problem-solving toolkit, allowing me to tackle complex UX design challenges with a more tenacious and adaptable mindset.”

 

Moreover, Marianne’s commitment to deep thinking and thorough analysis has profoundly influenced my approach. I have been inspired by her and many women leaders in our organization. Rather than opting for quick fixes, I take the time to delve into the intricacies of a problem, considering multiple perspectives and potential implications. The lessons learned from Marianne have become the guiding principles that have shaped my professional journey.

 

 

Rebecca Bacon
Head of Financial Institutions • Upgrade, Inc.

Upgrade is a neobank that offers affordable and responsible credit to mainstream consumers.

 

Looking back on your career so far, is there a woman who has consistently inspired you?

Adelina Grozdanova, co-founder of Upgrade, has consistently inspired me over the last several years of my career. Before Upgrade, I had limited opportunities to work alongside women. I hadn't had a woman manager and never worked for a company that had a woman as one of its founding team members. 

 

Adelina Grozdanova, co-founder of Upgrade, has consistently inspired me over the last several years of my career.”

 

Adelina’s guidance has been most inspirational for me in terms of leadership. This inspiration was not always comfortable, but her persistence for Upgrade’s success has driven me to be relentless with my own plans for the Financial Institutions team. 

Any less-than-optimal outcome has become an opportunity to improve and try again. I’ve been inspired to see that even when there is success, there is always more that could be done, more growth, more value that could be added to benefit our customers and partners.

 

How have you incorporated the lessons and achievements from her life and career into your own?

First, true leadership transcends titles and expertise; it resides in influence. I’ve realized that the ability to inspire others to evoke change and progress stems not from one's title but from the capacity to influence. True leaders possess the ability to connect with people on an honest level, understand their challenges and empathize. 

By following a servant leadership approach, I aim to make a lasting positive impact on the lives of others around me, whether they are consumers, clients, or my team members. If I can add the most value to the consumer, serve my clients the best product and develop my team, I can ultimately deliver the best outcomes for the company. The order of priorities is critical. 

Second, I avoided falling into the trap of victimhood. As Adelina would say, “don’t let things happen to you.” Being a victim is the most disempowering position. To succeed, I’ve learned to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. 

This tenacity and resilience have been fundamental to my professional success and personal happiness. There is no point in being a bystander or byproduct of your environment; make your own changes and don’t let things happen around you.

 

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images provided by Shutterstock and listed companies.

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