Valeria Ignatieva, or simply ‘V’ to her many acquaintances, is a familiar face to those who fight the good fight for gender equality here in Australia – we partnered up to put together Zero Gender Divide. Her giddy laughter and infectious energy belies a sharp focus for discovery and growth – taking her into the world of IT with 11 global and national awards with the Microsoft Partner network through to her current role as co-founder of niche job site turn social enterprise, Diverse City Careers (DCC). Here, Valeria shares her journey with us:
What drew you to the world of IT?
Eight years ago, I found a flexible role in a small tech firm, nSynergy (sold to cloud subscription business Rhipe for $25M in 2014) which suited me, after stints in HR, advertising, and hospitality. At that time, I became a single parent (after going through the legal process with a local lawyer akin to a LA divorce lawyer) and went through a tough period putting my son who was bnorn with cerebral palsy through therapy. I continued working in marketing for a number of tech firms, and then started my first consultancy, B2B Tech Marketing in 2013 – the same year my son was diagnosed with epilepsy, and being in control of my work helped me deal with my personal challenges better.
Meanwhile, I saw a gap in the representation of women in IT, so joined the Females in IT & Telecommunications (FITT) board where I reconnected with an ex-colleague, Gemma Lloyd who shared a business idea with me that turned my world positively upside down! Today, Gemma and I run Diverse City Careers (DCC), a social enterprise helping women pursue rewarding careers and in particular, assisting women to enter sectors with low female participation.
Left to right: Gemma Lloyd and Valeria Ignatieva – cofounders of Diverse City Careers
Tell us about DCC.
DCC started as a jobs board promoting gender diversity; we pre-screen employers to make sure they provide a supportive environment for women before advertising their jobs. With corporate partners such as Dropbox and Accenture, we started working with Australia’s leading employers on a number of initiatives such as the Leaders in Gender Diversity campaign and panel discussions to raise awareness.
In addition to this, we offer a range of events, webinars, campaigns and free resources to support professional development. This year, I’m proud to say that DCC was nominated in the innovation category in the ARN Women in ICT awards.
It’s encouraging to see a growing awareness of diversity among corporations such as Origin Energy, ThoughtWorks and Curtin University, and the participation of over 90 companies in the WGEA Pay Equity Campaign which addresses gender pay gap is only the beginning.
What life lessons can you share?
I’ve picked up a range of valuable life lessons along the way, with resilience and tenacity being at the top of my list. Here’s a few more:
Be entrepreneurial: When you’re running your own business, wearing multiple hats is a must, and it helps to embrace the opportunity to learn something new by diving in, as opposed to being intimidated by not having previously done the task.
Let everyday inspire you: I tend to look up to “everyday” heroes who have overcome the odds and gone on to build successful businesses, such as Aromababy’s Catherine Cervasio who I admire for finding that balance of work, family, and social work.
Own it: When working for someone else, I’ve always behaved as if the business was mine. Never be afraid to ask questions and look for alternative ways of doing something. Many entrepreneurs are told that their idea will never work, and I urge them to pave their own way instead of worrying about the opinion of others.
Game on: Bring your best game both on field and at work. By leveraging your competitive spirit and defining clear goals for winning, I strongly believe it will make you a better performer and team player at work.
Finally, who is your business hero?
Valeria’s business hero, Seth Godin.
My business hero at the moment is Seth Godin. Reading ‘The Linchpin’ showed me that anybody can step into the role of a leader regardless of the job description, which influenced me when I started my career. I also recommend ‘The Bootstrapper’s Bible‘ to any aspiring entrepreneurs. It goes through a lot of the common pitfalls of starting a business, and has great real-life examples of how to build a great business while bootstrapping.