Summarizing the CEO Night discussion: Women in Executive Leadership and their Journeys

#High Tech
March 9, 2021 4 min read

On Feb. 25, Innovecs hosted the CEO Night panel dedicated to Women in Executive Leadership and their Journey. The list of speakers included Nina Levchuk, Startups & Venture Capital Lead at Google, Anna Degtereva, CEO & Founder at Happy Farm Business Accelerator, and LinkUpConferenceShow, Hanna Shuvalova, Managing Partner at Pawa Venture Studio with Tatiana Zheltomirska, Chief Marketing and Experience Officer at Innovecs as host of the event.

The topic of Women’s role in the business world never gets old. On the one hand, the statistics show that The Fortune 500 list included a record number of female CEOs in 2020. However, it is too early to speak of a 50/50 ratio — we are still not even close to it. Women run only 37 (just 64 named in the 60+ year history of the ranking) of the 500 companies, which makes up 16.5%. Only 12 women are on the top 100 list of the Forbes, 6 of them run hereditary businesses.

As of today, 44 percent of companies have 3+ women in the C-suite, which is a 15% growth since 2015. During the last five years, the number of women entrepreneurs has grown at a rate that is nearly twice as fast as the overall growth in female entrepreneurship: 39% compared to 21%, respectively.
Tatiana Zheltomirska,
Chief Marketing and Experience Officer at Innovecs

Apparently, there are challenges along the career path of women in business. Successful and experienced women got together to speak their minds on existing challenges as well as drivers that make them who they are today.

Brick by brick. Building a leader's character

As the event’s moderator, Tatiana directed the beginning of the talk to the roots — childhood, and upbringing. More specifically, how parents nurture a child’s character and perceive plans and endeavors.

I agree, that the narrative within a family and parents' support of early endeavors are crucial for the formation of a future leader. I was born into a working-class family, and my parents never restricted my ambitions and encouraged my curiosity and passion for new knowledge.
Hanna Shuvalova,
Managing Partner at Pawa Venture Studio

In contrast, Nina Levchuk has always had a role model by her side — Nina’s mother is an entrepreneur. Her inspiration is always there, and in her early sixties, Nina’s mother is successfully running her business.

Anna Degtereva in her own words was born into a financially-challenged family with her mother being pessimistic about things. Surrounded by books in her own rich library, Anna observed one mindset and strived for something different. This brought her to Kyiv with big plans about joining a reputable corporation. Looking back, Anna thinks if not for her mother’s outlook and attitude, she would still live in Dnipropetrovsk.

Despite being from drastically different backgrounds, all the ladies share the same insight — family support at the home front is extremely important in the pursuit of the career journey. Confidence and inner force to move forward can grow out of various life situations: you either look up to role models or turn around and walk decisively in the opposite direction.

Work/Life Balance. Does it even exist?
Mental health is very important. Otherwise, you cannot be productive. Therefore, I try to allocate a few hours in the morning to meditate, have breakfast and meet interesting people. This is what helps me to move forward.
Hanna Shuvalova,
Managing Partner at Pawa Venture Studio

Nina Levchuk believes, that work/life balance has millions of definitions and is all about personal boundaries.

For a leader, it is essential to be very attentive to his/her own body and its red flags. Listening and trusting yourself matters a lot. Also, work/life balance grows out of values in life, where your priorities are.
Nina Levchuk,
Startups & Venture Capital Lead at Google
I used to be a full-time working mom fully immersed in work. As years went by, I looked back and realized the value of being around my daughter and precious moments spent together. Today, I lean on strict time management which helps me to be ahead of time everywhere.
Anna Degtereva,
CEO & Founder at Happy Farm Business Accelerator, and LinkUpConferenceShow

Skills, knowledge, education. Lifetime learning in leadership

Hanna Shuvalova is a Stanford University graduate. She chose her alma mater while climbing a high mountain in Bolivia. Having reached the top, Hanna realized she wants more, and the sky’s the limit. Education was her first stage on the way to growing her career in IT. Stanford Business School is not so much about studying disciplines, but more about networking.

Anna Degtereva also sees great power in networking and building a robust community which boosts the development of the IT market. This understanding transformed into LinkUpConference. The idea of mixing IT and comedy meant to make difficult and serious things easier and more fun. To her mind, people need common ground, interesting off-work topics to discuss. This created the welcoming environment of plain and trusted communication — this is a basis of a strong community.

Also, she realized from her experience that the language barrier is not an obstacle when you are passionate about something. Inner energy tells who to find, who to ask for assistance — to seek for missing expertise to achieve a goal. Therefore, a leader knows how to launch and organize processes and gather the necessary talent.

Leadership is not so much about having knowledge, but more about being passionate. Also, a lot is attributed to the ability to accept and analyze feedback and provide it. Accepting who you are is pivotal. There will always be people who are much more successful. Living in a competitive world, one has to not only be a leader, but also be a sustainable leader — remember who you are, why you are here, and what you want in your life.
Nina Levchuk,
Startups & Venture Capital Lead at Google

Tips for aspiring leaders and entrepreneurs

Our speakers provided some tips and recommendations for those building their career path:

  • Challenge yourself. You have to be able to open any doors.
  • Be brave. Opportunities are everywhere.
  • Speak up, don’t be afraid to reach out to people.
  • Don’t look for acceptance. Failures make us better.
  • Be patient with people who love you. Be more respectful and give more love back.

There’s more to this insightful and soulful talk. If you want to get more detail on the experience of the speakers, their projects, and tips, watch the full video of the event. And be sure to tune into our next CEO Night — we’ve got a lot more to share.