This is a series of spotlight interviews with some of the incredible guests we’ll see at the ASCEND Leadership Summit 2018.
WHAT PROBLEM WOULD YOU LIKE SOLVED?
Our north star is solving the challenge of advancing women to positions of leadership. We’ve been working for decades to change the number, but we haven’t moved the needle enough because we’ve been treating the symptoms of the gender gap instead of curing the underlying disease. At Werk, the disease we want to cure is the structure of the workday itself, which was designed before women made up a significant part of the American workforce. But it’s not just about women—humans and the challenges they face are all unique. If people aren’t one-size-fits-all, then why are our jobs? We envision a world where everyone can work in a way that is fundamentally compatible with their lives.
ADVICE YOU’D WISHED YOU’D HAD OR HAD FOLLOWED?
I wish someone had told me earlier on that if the rules of the game are flawed, it’s not just enough to break them—you have to change them. Many of the rules we still adhere to today were not designed for the participation of women and people of color and other marginalized groups. When I think about the workday, for example, it’s clear that the rules are completely unfair and disadvantage women and anyone with caregiving responsibilities. It took me dealing with these barriers on my own to understand that it’s not an individual issue, but a collective system that needs to be changed.
WHAT DOES SUCCESS LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
Success for me is leaving the world a little bit better than the way I found it. I came to the U.S. as a refugee from the former USSR when I was 6 years old, and the only reason that was possible was because of the charitable aid of individuals and organizations. I’ve always felt that it’s my duty to pay that forward, create opportunities for others, and make the world better in any way I can.
WHAT IS YOUR BEST DISCOVERY?
My best discovery is that my greatest strength is actually the thing I was told relentlessly to change. I talk fast, think fast, and am impatient. For years, I used to get feedback to slow down, talk slower, take my time. Turns out, my speed is my greatest strength!
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
I’d tell my younger self to throw out my 5-year plan sooner. I’ve always been type A and always had plans, spreadsheets, and lists. In a way, all that planning held me back from reflecting and discovering what it was that I was truly meant to do.
ANYTHING ELSE WE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT (PRODUCT LAUNCH, CROWDFUNDING OR MARKETING CAMPAIGN, RECENT INTERVIEW, JOB OPENINGS, ETC.)?
We’re really excited to see the traction and interest on our flexibility assessment tool, FlexMatch. It’s the only data-driven predictive tool for flexibility in the market, and it’s been amazing to see how hungry companies are to better understand their flexibility gap, key people metric risks resulting from that gap, and what flexibility policies they should implement.
We’ve also recently released the definitive research on the current state of flexibility in the U.S., quantifying supply, demand and impact of structured flexibility.
Register today to attend the ASCEND Leadership Summit on May 30, 2018 at the Microsoft campus in Redmond, WA. We hope to see you there!