Stories of Difference, Inspiration, Courage, and Empathy: International Women’s Day 2022

03.08.2022

Blog

International Women’s Day is today, March 8th, and ClickHouse is proud to reflect on this year’s theme of #BreakTheBias, which asks us to imagine “a world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination … where difference is valued and celebrated.” 

We spoke to a few of our employees about their experiences as women in technology to share their favorite memories, lessons learned, and hopes for the future. Meet today’s contributors, who’ve shared a bit about themselves in their own words:  

Elissa Weve, Alliance Manager
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

“My name is Elissa Weve, I am the Customer / Partner Alliance Manager at ClickHouse based in Amsterdam. I have been working in the software industry for the past 18 years, initially starting out as a programmer and later focussing my career on customer facing roles.”

Anne Krechmer, Sr. Recruiter
New York, New York

“I’m an extroverted social butterfly who turned my personality into my career. I get to meet amazing new people every day and some of them turn into coworkers. In my free time, I am a mom, foodie, traveler and TV binger.” 

Claire Lucas, Director Business Strategy and Operations
Denver, Colorado

“I am the Director of Business Strategy and Operations at ClickHouse. I build the operating model for the company to grow and scale in People Ops, Marketing, Facilities, and Support Services.”

Yuko Takagi, Director Go-To-Market Technology
Denver, Colorado

“I am a Director of Go To Market Technology, and I implement and manage the sales, marketing, and support tech stacks at ClickHouse. I’m passionate about making systems work.” 

Roopa Tangirala, Sr. Director, Cloud Engineering
Bay Area, California

“I have over 20+ years experience in databases both SQL and NoSQL, spent a major chunk, 14.5 years at Netflix leading the transactional datastore teams. I joined ClickHouse last year as Senior Engineering Director to lead the cloud engineering efforts to help build ClickHouse Cloud which I believe will change OLAP landscape making it easier for everyone to make data driven decisions.”

Tanya Bragin, Vice President, Product
Bay Area, California

I am a computer scientist by training, with advanced degrees from UCLA and University of Washington, where I studied distributed computer systems. I started my professional career in technical consulting and solution architecture, and was fortunate to spend the last decade and a half growing product and design organizations from early stages to maturity at data analytics startups — ExtraHop, Elastic, and now ClickHouse.”

Dorota Szeremeta, Vice President, Operations
Miami, Florida

“I am a builder at heart. I am most proud of my nine-year Salesforce career, where I helped Salesforce scale (from ~$2B revenues across ~7,500 employees to $20B revenues across 50,000+ employees) in key leadership roles across the Tableau M&A, Global Business Planning, Sales Strategy, Customer Success, and Employe Success / Global Workforce Planning organizations. Prior to Salesforce, I held several strategist roles at VMWare and Hewlett Packard, as well as multiple consultative roles. I graduated from UCLA Anderson School of Management with a M.B.A. in strategy, Georgetown University with a M.A. focused on network economics and technology, and a B.A. from Brown University as a double major in classics and modern culture and media. 

Kseniia Sumarokova, Software Engineer
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

“Hi. I am Kseniia as you know, or Ksusha — my short name for friends. I have been working at ClickHouse for more than a year now. In the distant past, I was a volleyball player (about 6 years of training), but dropped playing when I entered university, but love for some sport still remains and I am always eager to do any physical activity. Also I have a twin sister who studies Chinese and will soon move to China to continue there. I miss her a lot.”

Enough about who these amazing ladies are! Let’s see what they had to say: 


WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO GET INVOLVED WORKING FOR A TECHNOLOGY COMPANY?

Elissa: What initially inspired me to work in technology was a love of computers and maths from a very early age. What has kept me in the industry for such a long time is the constant change and excitement that comes with working with new technologies. But more so it comes down to the people I interact with daily. I am fortunate to meet so many down-to-earth colleagues, users and customers from all over the world, who make my work a joy. 

Kseniia: I have been working in ClickHouse for more than a year now, but my first contribution to ClickHouse was much earlier — on my second year at university, when doing my yearly course work. Then again I did my third year course work in ClickHouse and about the same time started working there. Now I am 3 months away from finishing university with a degree in Applied Mathematics and Computer science (and again this year my diploma is connected with ClickHouse).

Tanya: I was drawn to science and technology from early childhood. I grew up in a family of scientists, and gravitated toward math and physical sciences throughout school. I was always surprised by the lack of diversity in STEM programs. I believe our biases have roots in experiences from early childhood and manifest later in life by field of study and professional choices individuals make. As a result, I consider it important to invest in programs that encourage kids from all walks of life to be passionate about a variety of subjects — including math, science, computer programming, and digital design — and build a broad base of skills to be successful in any profession they choose.


WHO IN YOUR PERSONAL LIFE OR YOUR CAREER HAS CONTRIBUTED THE MOST IN EITHER MENTORING YOU, HELPING YOU OVERCOME BARRIERS OF BIAS, OR GIVING YOU THE CONFIDENCE TO PURSUE YOUR PROFESSIONAL GOALS?

Claire: Thom O’Connor, our VP of Support Services at ClickHouse, made a big impact in my career recently. I spent 5 years at my former company working with Thom, and during this time he trusted me to run off and solve problems. If I was stuck on a problem, he coached me to think about it from a new perspective which made a lasting impact on how I approached the management or business problem going forward. When it came to discussing my career, Thom saw potential in me and it really helped me to gain confidence in my role and in my career.

Roopa: My parents! From my childhood, they instilled in me the values of looking at diverse perspectives and accepting differences (I grew up in a university where there were people from all states and cultures). Growing up in India, where there is an implicit gender bias almost everywhere, in my household, both me and my brother were treated equally and we were encouraged to be courageous and ask questions when we didn’t see eye to eye with others. These principles have guided me on multiple occasions in my professional life as well and helped overcome barriers of bias.

Yuko: I grew up in Japan and moved to the United States when I was 14. I had a lot of challenges learning the language and culture, so it was hard for me to differentiate what I was facing. In Japan, it is a norm for women to play supporting roles to men, and I was used to this idea. At my last employer, I was lucky enough to have a manager who fought for me. He made sure I negotiated for myself and he recognized I was not good at emphasizing my own value, so he pushed me to get comfortable with the idea until I could negotiate for myself. I’m glad I found an environment where I could grow out of this preconceived notion. 

Dorota: Over a decade ago, I met a mentor and executive champion who had a profound impact on me personally, in how I think about my career, and how I approach business in general. He created space for me to stretch and grow as part of my job and he advocated for me when I was not in the room. His approach to mentorship has shaped how I try to show up for my teams and colleagues. I had the privilege to work for Steve Pickle at two different companies, in four different roles, and I hope that our professional paths cross again. 


WHAT’S A SIMPLE TIP, OR A FEW, THAT YOU THINK HELPS MAKES TEAMS MORE INCLUSIVE FOR EVERYONE? WHAT HAVE YOU FOUND HELPFUL IN REDUCING BIAS?

Anne: One tip is to always find the silver lining. I’ve once been told I was too “bubbly” to be taken seriously for a management role. The way it was used, that word had a negative connotation. However, bubbly can also be passionate. So I took the feedback, signed up for public speaking courses, and was able to convert the negative connotation to a positive. My “bubbly-ness” is what got me to where I am today. Candidates and my hiring managers can see my passion and enthusiasm, which has actually worked in my favor. One item perceived as a negative can also be viewed as a positive for so many others. 

Roopa: Create a culture of psychological safety as an explicit priority and encourage everyone to speak up. The first step in reducing bias is to accept the fact that we all have bias and it’s important to be self-aware where these biases are showing up. Empathy and courage are both important in reducing bias, empathy to put yourself in others shoes and courage to speak up and question yourself and others when you see bias showing up in the workplace.

Claire: I put myself in the shoes of someone else. I meditate every day before work and this brings awareness to what I am experiencing and builds empathy to what others are experiencing around the world. It takes more than just empathy to build an inclusive environment, it takes action. A good leader senses when it’s the right time to step in and help someone be included into the conversation and the opportunity. It’s these leaders that take the action to check in privately, ask what someone thinks, offer an opportunity, and speak up when someone else is being discriminated against or treated unfairly that makes the difference.

Here’s to our ClickHouse difference-makers, women of courage and candor. For more resources on International Women’s Day, be sure to check out the IWD website, which offers countless ways to get involved in their mission to create a more inclusive and equitable world.

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