WinTech Director Profiles Series

Director Profile: Elena Yugai

Interview with Elena Yugai, co-founder and CGO of Women in Tech World

Women in Tech World (WinTech World) writer Rainer Kern interviewed CGO Elena Yugai

RK:  Why did you start Women in Tech World? Is there an anecdote here?

EY:  Ali Close and I co-founded Women in Tech World together. In 2016, both her and I were looking for resources and support for women on our teams. We wanted something very specific that understood the nuance, dynamics and rapid growth that happens in the tech industry. When we couldn’t find it, we thought, let’s start it. We began with a small panel in Vancouver, and when other women found out that we were doing this they said, “Uh, we want to be a part of this, let’s do it together!”

RK: What happened from there?

EY: Within a short time, that one little panel became a week of events, then an event across five cities in Canada, in May 2016. There were 17 events that week– panels, career workshops and recruitment workshops. We also gave out $50,000 in  tech scholarships. We quickly realized this was very special. The feedback was overwhelmingly, “yes, please, more.” So for the second Women in Tech week, we grew our team to 140 volunteers and held events in seven cities in  Canada and the USA.

We didn’t invent a movement. We were thirsty – we opened the tap just to drink a glass of water and the floodgates opened. We realized there was a huge demand from both organizations and women themselves. People were coming out of the woodwork saying, “Let’s work together; this is important.” We stepped up because it was important to us,  not just professionally but also personally.

RK: What are your goals in doing this job?

EY: My goal is to make Women in Tech World obsolete, redundant and unnecessary. My goal is to come to the table and say, “You know what? We don’t need it anymore.” And I hope it happens in my lifetime.

RK: What’s your background?

EY: I stumbled into tech, but now I can’t really see myself outside of it. I got my Bachelor in International Business and Foreign Languages from the University of Maine, and after that I worked in law for a while.

Later, when I was doing a graduate degree in cultural research, the CEO of a tech company invited me to coach him on the qualitative issues his team was facing. They were building an AI engine and his team couldn’t grasp the finance of social dynamics of community building. I loved the project so much that I joined it as a full-time role.

RK: What don’t we know about you?

EY: I have a very cheeky sense of humour and love being silly. Last year I started an Instagram account called DogueButt, which is just pictures of dogs butts. I started it half as a joke and half just to test some of the marketing tools and strategies for my business. It took off on its own, and now people all over the world are sending me pictures of their dog’s butts. And I love that there’s a corner of the internet where people think dog’s butts are just as funny as I do.

RK: What do you love?

EY: It’s important for me to create culture and energy. What makes me happiest is seeing positive energy, and I’m proudest when I facilitate or witness someone on our team get an opportunity they were going after. If I had a hand in it, whether it was an introduction, career coaching, or a LinkedIn connection, that puts me over-the-moon happy. I think it’s a sisterhood kind of drive. I just get so happy when my peers and friends succeed.

RK: Why would you recommend people volunteer with WinTech?

EY: We repeat over and over again to everyone on our leadership team, “Your task is not just to manage products or execute specific areas of your expertise. A huge part of your job is to create an exceptionally joyful and unique experience for volunteers.” We embrace flexibility and diversity. We make it an enjoyable and joyful experience so people grow professionally and personally. We want volunteers to build friendships, find support and get advice. We’re building is a platform of stakeholders across the country from different organizations, with different talents and skills.

RK: Final thoughts?

EY: I want to paint a vision of what’s next: I understand how paralyzing it can be to look at a situation and wonder how you can shift the dial in a meaningful way. But I just want to say: the future is bright, the future is female, the future is inclusive, and the future is just.

We want to build the roadmaps for individual women and organizations so they can know what actions to take. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but it happens when you take the steps. That’s a reason to join and support us. We invite people to join us on social media and to contribute to our discussions.

WinTech Director Profiles Series

Director Profile: Elena Yugai

Interview with Elena Yugai, co-founder and CGO of Women in Tech World

Women in Tech World (WinTech World) writer Rainer Kern interviewed CGO Elena Yugai

RK:  Why did you start Women in Tech World? Is there an anecdote here?

EY:  Ali Close and I co-founded Women in Tech World together. In 2016, both her and I were looking for resources and support for women on our teams. We wanted something very specific that understood the nuance, dynamics and rapid growth that happens in the tech industry. When we couldn’t find it, we thought, let’s start it. We began with a small panel in Vancouver, and when other women found out that we were doing this they said, “Uh, we want to be a part of this, let’s do it together!”

RK: What happened from there?

EY: Within a short time, that one little panel became a week of events, then an event across five cities in Canada, in May 2016. There were 17 events that week– panels, career workshops and recruitment workshops. We also gave out $50,000 in  tech scholarships. We quickly realized this was very special. The feedback was overwhelmingly, “yes, please, more.” So for the second Women in Tech week, we grew our team to 140 volunteers and held events in seven cities in  Canada and the USA.

We didn’t invent a movement. We were thirsty – we opened the tap just to drink a glass of water and the floodgates opened. We realized there was a huge demand from both organizations and women themselves. People were coming out of the woodwork saying, “Let’s work together; this is important.” We stepped up because it was important to us,  not just professionally but also personally.

RK: What are your goals in doing this job?

EY: My goal is to make Women in Tech World obsolete, redundant and unnecessary. My goal is to come to the table and say, “You know what? We don’t need it anymore.” And I hope it happens in my lifetime.

RK: What’s your background?

EY: I stumbled into tech, but now I can’t really see myself outside of it. I got my Bachelor in International Business and Foreign Languages from the University of Maine, and after that I worked in law for a while.

Later, when I was doing a graduate degree in cultural research, the CEO of a tech company invited me to coach him on the qualitative issues his team was facing. They were building an AI engine and his team couldn’t grasp the finance of social dynamics of community building. I loved the project so much that I joined it as a full-time role.

RK: What don’t we know about you?

EY: I have a very cheeky sense of humour and love being silly. Last year I started an Instagram account called DogueButt, which is just pictures of dogs butts. I started it half as a joke and half just to test some of the marketing tools and strategies for my business. It took off on its own, and now people all over the world are sending me pictures of their dog’s butts. And I love that there’s a corner of the internet where people think dog’s butts are just as funny as I do.

RK: What do you love?

EY: It’s important for me to create culture and energy. What makes me happiest is seeing positive energy, and I’m proudest when I facilitate or witness someone on our team get an opportunity they were going after. If I had a hand in it, whether it was an introduction, career coaching, or a LinkedIn connection, that puts me over-the-moon happy. I think it’s a sisterhood kind of drive. I just get so happy when my peers and friends succeed.

RK: Why would you recommend people volunteer with WinTech?

EY: We repeat over and over again to everyone on our leadership team, “Your task is not just to manage products or execute specific areas of your expertise. A huge part of your job is to create an exceptionally joyful and unique experience for volunteers.” We embrace flexibility and diversity. We make it an enjoyable and joyful experience so people grow professionally and personally. We want volunteers to build friendships, find support and get advice. We’re building is a platform of stakeholders across the country from different organizations, with different talents and skills.

RK: Final thoughts?

EY: I want to paint a vision of what’s next: I understand how paralyzing it can be to look at a situation and wonder how you can shift the dial in a meaningful way. But I just want to say: the future is bright, the future is female, the future is inclusive, and the future is just.

We want to build the roadmaps for individual women and organizations so they can know what actions to take. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but it happens when you take the steps. That’s a reason to join and support us. We invite people to join us on social media and to contribute to our discussions.

Everyone knows that we are living in an increasingly tech-enabled world. Not surprisingly, this is reflected in the number of jobs that are now available in the tech industry. The problem is, while the Computer Science workforce has grown by 60% since 1991, the percentage of young women going into the industry has declined (Stats Canada 2011). This needs to change.