An interview with Małgorzata Gryz - Chief Operating Officer at Lingaro
Małgosia, please tell us about your current role in Lingaro and share with our community a short summary of your experience in IT.
Since a year a half I hold a position of the Chief Operating Officer, leading the company of more than 500 people, the leading industry BI expert, helping our Customers to lead the digital transformation of their businesses. My role is to manage our business end-to-end – from the Customers’ strategies, through organization design and change, technology partnerships, Customer Experience and bringing the top quality standards to our company. As we pay a lot of attention to our Core Values, together with the Leadership Team I lead, we make the Values topic – including diversity & inclusion understood in a very broad context – a key area of our existence, internally and externally. I have been working in various leadership, management and expert’s positions from 17 years, first in the EMEA role in HP (currently DXC), then 11 years working for the CEE and Polish roles in Microsoft and since a 1.5 heading Lingaro. Amazing & very dynamic industry. What is interesting, I am a journalist by education so I want to stress that not only an IT educated woman could be successful in the industry. Though of course, technical knowledge helps.
Do you think that perception of a woman in IT has changed since you started your career in IT?
I am sure, it is the case. I started my professional career more than 26 years ago in the FMCG Sector where females and males were working hand in hand for our joint success. When I joined the IT industry almost 17 years ago, not being a technical person, rather the business one, there were moments where I needed to prove that I am not a camel?. However, my self-confidence, respect to other people, hard work and understanding how we could help our Customers to enhance their business results through technologies, helped a lot to build trust and be successful. Not being afraid of taking new challenges, even if it is not your natural comfort zone, helped me so much in my career development. If I look back, I was changing the roles every 3 years – from the typical coaching and organization development roles, I was migrating to the business development ones, working with the Customers & Partners, taking big strategic projects on me and having professional and open-minded people around me. Many-times I was the first woman taking a particular role and bringing a tangible success after some time, always with great people around me, whom I trust. It was not my genius who helped me to win – it was a belief that everything is possible through your hard work, trust and inspiration and taking the right people on the bus (stolen with pride from Jim Collins of “Good to great”).
What were your success factors? What would you advise the other women starting in the IT industry?
Build your self-confidence, do not let the others focus on your weak points, always build on your strengths (first discover them). Find your mentor – an inspirational female or male who will guide you and help to find your optimum way of development. Constantly learn – from your formal education, from the females’ and social communities (eg. Your own network, Vital Voices – where I have been an active mentor since more than 5 years, from the universities’ students communities, Erasmus program, etc…). Take feedback on your way. Be active, ask questions, do not give up your great ideas because someone else does not like them. Find a scholarship/ students’ internship program in an interesting IT company – have your buddy, your mentor from the beginning. Think big. Spend time with the energetic people who want to take and give. Following Gandhi – “be the change you want to see in the world”. What I believe is also very important is to take care for your basics – your private life, your personal values and non-negotiables.
We know that you actively work with the other women in the business as a mentor. Could you elaborate more on this aspect?
Indeed, I have been a very active females’ mentor since almost 10 years. I mentor internally and externally. As mentioned above, since more than 5 years I have been mentoring other younger females in the Vital Voices program to guide them, help them build their self-confidence, share my practice and experience and let them discover their strengths to further build on those. I have been mentoring females (and males) since many years as I have a huge respect to mentorship as a great learning opportunity. It is an amazing experience if you see your mentees taking a new challenge, overcoming their barriers, being able to set-up their non-negotiables while building a trust-relationship with you as their mentor. The mentor learns a lot as well from her mentee and gets a portion of the positive energy.
Why have you decided for Lingaro? Would you recommend Lingaro as a great place to work for other females?
In full honesty, I was sure I would be working for Microsoft as my previous trusted employer until my retirement?, being a key talent and getting great development opportunities. However, while being approached by Lingaro, its HR and CEOs, I realized there is a world outside of my previous company which might give me a combination of a great international impact of a Polish company, entrepreneurial spirit and quick decision making as well as setting up a scalable and flexible organization, built on diversity and inclusion. After many months of our discussions, I made up my mind and here I am. Working hard, with an accountability of more than 500 people, working internationally for international Customers, having 11 nations and 13 languages inside Lingaro and 30% of females’ talents in different leadership, management and subject-matter expertise positions (worth to mention that we do not set up any quotas, we just hire the best because of their attitude and competencies). We recently acquired a top e-commerce company which is helping us to enhance our digital transformation strategy towards the market. Lingaro gives so much of freedom, intellectual power and massive positive energy of its employees. The Leadership Team I have a privilege to lead is composed of top people, it is a very diverse community, with Poles, Spanish, French, Dutch, Filipino – all different and all working for the same goal, people with passions and aspirations. This is how our whole company looks like, with diversity and no barriers. No doubt, it is a great place to work and the most attractive place for the females’ development. You are more than welcome – join us, unleash your potential and enjoy every single day of being on board with our Customers and Lingarians. Happy to answer your questions if they occur on the way: firstname.lastname@example.org.