The latest candidate in our series of Q&As with influential women in the technology business in Canada is Julia Baranovskaya, Chief Compliance Officer & Founding Team Member, NDAX, a cryptocurrency trading platform in compliance with Canadian banking regulations that was created with retail, institutional, early-investors, and crypto traders in mind.
Name: Julia Baranovskaya, CFE
Job Title: Chief Compliance Officer and Founding Team Member, NDAX
Years in the Industry: 5 Years
The Quote That Most Inspires You: “Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.” – (Oprah Winfrey)
What drew you to a career in the consumer and/or business technology industry?
I have been in the financial industry for many years and have always been interested in learning about new technologies and innovations, so FinTech seemed perfect. It still involves finance and is very innovative, challenging, and allows me to learn something new every day.
Have you encountered any roadblocks along the way that were related to your gender?
The financial industry has always been dominated by males, representing some challenges to any young female entering the industry. As a female in a male-dominated industry, I had to work harder, take more courses, make better decisions to prove myself, and earn respect and recognition. About five years ago, I left the traditional financial industry for FinTech. I walked away from a stable career for a startup in FinTech with a group of like-minded individuals. I started to work on building NDAX, the company that we started building from the ground up. I was so eager to ensure the project’s success and prove that there is room for female leaders in tech that I was back to work on the day that I gave birth to my daughter.
I started my career in the financial industry with a full-service brokerage. I worked from an investment advisor assistant to branch administrator to the chief compliance officer within a very short period of time. As I entered the space, I encountered some biased thinking, which encouraged me to challenge the way things are currently done and advocate for respect and acceptance of female leadership in the financial industry.
What unique characteristics or perspective(s) do you feel you bring to your organization as a woman?
As a female leader, I bring a unique approach to leadership and the company’s decision-making. I have always advocated for a diverse workforce to bring a wide range of experiences, gender equality, and ethnic diversity to the workplace. It allows for different voices, perspectives, and opinions to be heard. This helps companies improve the services and products it offers and develop a progressive atmosphere in the workplace.
I would consider myself a multitasker, someone who is not afraid of any challenges. I’m able to manage several projects simultaneously and provide guidance and motivation to the team while constantly keeping what’s important at the top of my mind. I believe female leaders bring improvements in communication, competence, confidence and creativity, providing support and nurturing talent and inspiring new young females entering the space.
Technology is historically a male-dominated industry, yet the use of tech is fully embraced by women, and many studies even suggest that females are the primary buyers of tech in the home. What do you feel the technology industry needs to attract more women, particularly into high-level positions?
Canadian Women’s Foundation reported that as of 2019, full-time working women made 76.8 cents compared to a dollar that men make. Women were significantly affected by the economic impact of pandemics, and 10 times more women have fallen out of the workforce than men in 2020, as reported by the RBC Economics report in 2021. Recent research shows that women in Canada still comprise a very low percentage of board members or leadership positions and make significantly less than their male peers holding the same positions.
The above numbers are truly shocking, but this is a significant improvement from the ’60s and ’70s and is after decades of advocating for women’s rights in the workforce and significant enhancements. In the last decade, we have seen a number of changes in society, where women are now gaining a voice, respect and acceptance. We are not just homemakers any longer but rather equal contributors to the society and consumers of tech industry products.
Women are quickly adopting new technologies and are constantly keeping up with the rapidly changing world and its tech creations. For women to enter the space, especially in high-level positions, they need to be given a chance and be heard by those leading the space, which is currently male dominated. For women looking for a position in tech, I would suggest making meaningful connections, letting your voice be heard, advocating for yourself, working hard, learning something new every day, keeping a positive attitude, and never giving up.
If you had to sum up what it is like being a woman in this male-dominated technology industry in just a few words, what would you say?
It’s a challenge that I accepted a number of years ago when I entered the financial industry, even more so working in FinTech and the crypto industry. I’m glad that I have made that move. It encourages me to raise my bar every week, work a bit harder every day, learn something new every hour, and challenge myself every minute, making me a better leader and inspiring others to enter the space.
Are there women in the tech industry who inspire you?
The industry is shifting rapidly. Women are making a big splash in the news by leading tech companies and making headlines in innovation and technology. I take my inspiration from those women, and those who inspired me and supported me at the very beginning of my career, the ones who encouraged me when I first entered the space, and those who I work with today.
What are some of the misconceptions/myths about women working in the technology space that you’d like to dispel?
I think the biggest misconception in the industry about women, and a very outdated one, is that women are not a good fit in tech. I would argue that women embrace technology, and the number of women in tech industry has been growing. The growth has been very slow, an average of two per cent a year in North America and even slower in third-world countries. But the interest is rising, and if the chance is given, women are happy to take it on and challenge it.
What’s one thing you wish was done differently in the industry, and why?
First and foremost, the tech industry must dedicate some resources to closing the confidence gap by creating awareness, providing access to education, and inspiring diversity and equality. I would encourage women in tech to demonstrate their skills with complete confidence and not to hold back.
Are you optimistic for the future in general and for the industry?
Technology is rapidly changing and constantly enhancing, and with that, I’m very optimistic about the industry’s future.
Looking at the trends and recent developments, the industry is growing year over year; it is believed that the tech industry will create a number of new jobs, will improve efficiencies, and change our world in the ways we have not seen before. We are now surrounded by technology in our everyday lives at home and at work with the Internet of things, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and blockchain, just to name a few. Our lives have been changed in a way that we would not imagine even five years back, and it continues to improve.