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The latest candidate in our series of Q&As with influential women in the technology business in Canada is Pavla Bobosikova, CEO & co-founder, WFHomie, a remote employee analytics and culture-building platform.
Name: Pavla Bobosikova
Job Title: CEO and Co-Founder of WFHomie
Years in the Industry: 5 Years
The Quote That Most Inspires You: “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm” – (Winston Churchill)
What drew you to a career in the business technology industry?
I’ve always been fascinated by the speed and magnitude of impact that tech companies make. In some industries, it can take decades to become successful in your career. For example, when I was studying Architecture at UofT, I learned that you’re viewed as young if you “make” it by 55. I knew that wasn’t going to work for me. The business technology industry is so fast-paced, there’s an opportunity to have such a significant impact in a short period of time.
After beginning my career in UI/UX design and later moving into product management, I started to feel the positive impact I could make through the products I was working on and knew I would never look back.
Fortunately, this experience led me to the opportunity to dive into entrepreneurship after a company acquisition at the beginning of the pandemic. I started researching the concept of the “future of work” as remote-work adoption accelerated globally. When it became clear that remote and flexible work was here to stay, I got more serious about pursuing this category. I joined Entrepreneur First, the world’s leading tech talent investor and co-founder matching program. Through taking part in Entrepreneur First, NEXT Canada, and, most recently, League of Innovators – a 12-month program designed and focused on supporting young entrepreneurs building scaling startups in Canada – I founded WFHomie, with my co-founder Reza Farahani.
Have you encountered any roadblocks along the way that were related to your gender?
Luckily, I personally haven’t encountered many roadblocks related to my gender. I am certainly not unaware of the topic and have noticed the gender gap increasing, especially in leadership roles. Because of this, I actively get involved in mentorship and always try to share what I’m learning with those just getting started on their professional journey. It is easy to feel occasionally stuck in this industry, but that has made me work even harder to get to where I am today.
It’s essential in the tech industry to ensure you have leaders to look up to who are constantly persevering in their respective fields. I always look to leaders who lead with empathy and put their employees first. Those who can understand the different contexts that employees are going through outside of their jobs are key leaders that I look up to.
What unique characteristics or perspectives do you feel you bring to your organization as a woman?
Empathy and care. I try to always be in the mindset of my teammates to understand how they are feeling and what drives them. As a business leader, it’s integral to put your employees first and think about them as people first and foremost, not just “staff.” When leaders put themselves in their employees’ shoes, they begin to understand and empathize with the fact that everyone has other things going on outside of their job. Regardless of your gender, everyone is leading by example, and their actions will get mirrored. I think it’s essential for business leaders to remember that their “leader/manager hat” isn’t only on in meetings, every interaction counts with the people they work with.
With WFHomie, we prioritize the well-being of our employees over everything and try to set our team up for success. Considering our platform is based on team appreciation, relationship building, collaboration, and recognition programs, we’re creating a space for team members to come together and enjoy their time at work. We want to ensure that companies, including our own, prevent employee burnout and undesirable turnover and build a positive and sustainable workplace culture.
Technology is a historically 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?
As I mentioned above, diversity in leadership is critical, especially in the tech industry. I believe companies should prioritize leadership development opportunities and ensure they’re at the forefront to attract women to higher-level positions. Companies can integrate many different programs or benefits to help grow women’s careers and develop leadership skills. For example, some companies provide credits to career development, which allows women opportunities they might not have been initially exposed to.
Second, maintaining an inclusive environment focusing on employee engagement and company culture will help attract more women into higher-level positions and help develop and grow the employees you currently have, to reduce top talent turnover. Companies need to be intentional in their efforts as it requires constant strategic thinking and is often not so easy to execute. Culture isn’t something that leaders get to build after they meet their primary business objectives. It is something that gets reflected in every single interaction between peers or an employee and their boss. If companies can intentionally curate and invest in their culture and employees’ learning and development programs, retention should become more manageable.
This is one of the reasons why it was so essential to build WFHomie, an employee engagement analytics and culture-building platform for hybrid and distributed teams. With our platform, we can identify gaps in employee experience, which will help companies develop new processes and create a more robust culture for learning and professional development.
Last, companies should ensure they have key policies like parental leave and flexible work hours in place if they’re looking to attract a more diverse, high-performing workforce.
If you had to sum up what it is like being a woman in this male-dominated In the technology industry, in just a few words, what would you say?
Being a woman in the tech industry and co-founding WFHomie has been an empowering experience. There have been many leaders before me who have paved the way for women in the tech industry. As I lead WFHomie, it has been incredibly empowering to see what we’ve accomplished so far in such a short period of time and what we will achieve in the future.
Are there other women in the tech industry who inspire you?
Many women in the tech industry inspire me, and I look up to them as leaders in the tech space. The top three that come to mind are: Fidji Simo, CEO of Instacart, Anne Wojcicki, CEO of 23andMe, and Whitney Wolfe Herd, CEO of Bumble. All three of these women have persevered and championed the importance of women in tech and women leadership in this industry. They have become notable examples in the space and have given the next generation of women tech leaders a great example to aspire to.
What are some of the misconceptions/myths about women working in the technology space that you’d like to dispel?
The biggest misconception about women in the workforce is that they suddenly have to develop thick skin to get anywhere. The truth is, women are by default resilient, or at the very least just as resilient as other genders. Yes, we might need to pay close attention to how we communicate – the unnecessary “sorry and thank you” and generally more apologetic language has been proven to hold us back. Still, it’s easy to fix once you become aware of it and get guidance on how to communicate with greater confidence.
Technology like WFHomie leverages data to help companies curate and action leadership development programs that help women bridge this gap.
What’s one thing you wish was done differently in the industry, and why?
There needs to be a shift in our learning and career development approach. More people need to realize that employee learning in any company, not just in the tech industry, isn’t just coming from managers or known leaders but peers as well. We need to make sure we’re learning the most out of our experiences and allow ourselves to spend time reflecting.
Similarly, most companies allocate learning and development resources to the top 10% high potential people. This communicates to the other 90% that they are not being perceived as equally worthy and creates the same paradigm as when children are told they’re not good enough – people stop believing in themselves and shut down the growth mindset. We need to empower more people to claim their identity as leaders and support them in learning and development. Platforms like WFHomie enable that on the individual and company levels.
Are you optimistic for the future in general and the industry?
Yes, 100%. It’s interesting because the corporate industry indicated that we would see this hybrid and distributed work setting in the next 10 to 15 years; however, the pandemic proved how fast things could move forward. We’ve seen companies that never worked from home, now having a hybrid team, changing the tech industry globally. With the global shortage of tech talent and the mass resignation only starting, company culture, benefits, and policies are now more critical than ever. Employees are pushing for better work environments, better support, and more flexibility – it’s buyers’ (talents’) market. These changes have all led to the development of WFHomie because we saw the increasing importance of developing and maintaining workplace culture and improving employee experience.
It’s no longer enough for companies to do the bare minimum. It’s now more critical than ever for companies to put corporate culture and employee experience at the forefront.
I’m excited to see the shift we’ll see in the future. There’s so much talent, excitement, and fast shifts in this industry, making me very optimistic about the future of tech.