We interviewed one of our board members – a woman with 12-year executive background, gender equality and STEM activist – Nadiia Vasylieva. Nadiia has been the General Manager of the Black Sea region of Microsoft for 5 years and currently she is a Board Member of Credit Agricole Bank and Board Member of Ukraine State Enterprise “Prozorro Sales” where she has a key function – auction to realization of privatization as well as Deputy General Director for Digitalization and Innovation of “UKROBORONPROM”, which manages the enterprises of the military-industrial complex in Ukraine, and employees 80,000 highly skilled people. She is also an independent Director for several commercial companies’ Supervisory Board in Fintech, Cyber Security, IoT and Digital Transformation spheres.

I․ How do you start your day? What helps to organize the best of everyday life?

N. I start my day early to do what I love while everyone is sleeping at home.

I․ What are the three factors that make a person successful nowadays?

N. 1. Speed of action. 

    2. Having vision what you want to achieve. 

    3. Continuous development and growth.

I․ What is leadership for you? What separates a female leader from a male leader? 

N. For me, leadership is the ability to lead, to make independent and often unpopular decisions, to be responsible for the decisions made, to accept the consequences of the decisions, no matter how difficult they may be. In practice, there is no difference, except for some factors, which are more related to self-confidence, the path of becoming a leader.

i. A male leader will get into a “fight”. He will go into a new position, will deal with a new project, when he possesses 60-70% of the necessary competencies and experience. 

ii․ A woman leader will take on a new project and promotion or a new position when she is 130% confident in her competencies. 

iii. Men have a greater strategic vision than women because it is easier for them to believe in a bright strategic future. The woman will likely believe in the company operational improvement but will unlikely bound herself with new “peaks”, eventually reflecting this success in the long run vision.

I․ Can we say that we have reached relative gender equality in the ICT field today?

N. Of course, we have not! Do we have the same salaries for the same top management positions? Do we have the same privileges in terms of offices, cars, bonuses, working hours, workload and breaks? Do we have the same chances for promotion? Do we have the same access to mentoring, coaching, role models and capital? Do we have the same political support? And many other aspects …

I․ What has the epidemic changed in you? How have these changes affected your professional life? 

N. The pandemic helped me understand what and who is important in my personal and professional life and what is not. 

The pandemic helped me to pay more attention to health, rest and family. 

The pandemic has fostered transformation processes both around me and in me. I began to rely on myself more than on my assistants.

I․ The pandemic has changed the structure of education, giving more space to non-formal education. How do you feel about this trend? How do you see the ideal education model that corresponds to realities? 

N. I think the perception of the uselessness of the fundamental education because of duration and out of date methods is wrong. I think it is necessary not as a basic profession, which we will probably be changing throughout life, but rather as an opportunity to develop outlook and learn the world better. It allows seeing something yours in this world which can end up in a calling you might not even think at school. At the same time, continuous development and growth are now inevitable as the technical means of production are changing very rapidly. It means that we need permanently improve our capacities with modern instruments and knowledge on their usage to keep our productivity at a high. Here non-formal education comes happening now and here. It is based on cases and insights which are happening around us now.

I ․STEM education is supposed to prepare you better for real life. What prospects and risks do you see? 

N. I suppose that the principal thing STEM education requires is concentration and efforts which develop character and ability to focus to finish and reach tangible outcome. This will bring joy instead of just paying little money and putting minor which do not even make some people feel the joy of achieving something. The prospects and risks I see is young generation. Particularly, it is about children whose well-being has been shaped by wealthy successful parents. They are not used to overcoming difficulties on their own, enduring inconvenience, working hard and gaining extraordinary results because they have everything. These children avoid STEM education forming a new wave of distribution. ST-educated people are the future as they currently possess much less capital it will mean instability and new crisis in the future.

I. Due to the technological development of many aspects of life, the structure of the labor market is changing. What professions will inevitably disappear and what will have a future? 

N. The labor market is changing significantly, it will be changing even more. Today we just need to work faster with new digital tools, but with their obsolescence we will need to develop new skills and professions. The problem is not only in the emergence of new professions, but also in the fact that new profession will not be suitable for everyone. There will be fewer and fewer professions with repetitive processes. Machines and robots are good at copying, and replicating, but not in creating and creativity. It is more about creativity digitized with modern mechanism and software for work optimization creative people. No doubt, creativity linked with 12 technological trends starting from big data and AI and ending with space biotechnologies will be paid the most. 

I. AI: will robots conquer humanity or human being will come close to the supremum of their abilities?

N. I am convinced it is the second option, not the first. Robots will not be able to make independent decisions that may threaten humanity. The whole humanity is working together on a new global digital set of laws regarding both data and machines. People will have new biocybernetic capabilities with quantum calculations, caring less for their comfort and physical needs, that will be replaced by the opportunity to create, control the whole chaos including more integrity with the ecology, more than we do now. 

I․ What inspires you? 

N. Aesthetics, smart talks and discussions in comfortable conditions like nature and fireplace. The growth of people next to me and after communicating with me. Talented people constantly working on themselves. Flowers and kind words. If serious, achieving my most desirable goals as a result of my efforts which eventually help me grow and become stronger and more professional.