Sigal Korczyn is a transformational leader with a track record of building successful teams that deliver great products, in large corporations through to start-ups.

Tell me a little bit about your career?

I come from a family of doctors but decided to pursue a degree in computer science and biology as I wanted to do something different. I fell in love with computer programming in my first year and this set me on the path to where I am now.

Throughout my career, I have worked with three companies and working at smaller and younger, and larger and more established companies has taught me how to adapt to different environments and I’m grateful for that range of experience.

I came to Riverbed Technology through Aternity, following holding roles at Tecnomatix and BMC. I have worked as an Engineering Director, Product Leader, and I now lead the entire Alluvio Aternity Development team at Riverbed. My role extends beyond Engineering to include welfare, HR, finance, and more. I love having the opportunity to expand my skill set and the additional responsibilities and challenges offered.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

My career path has developed naturally. Through company progression, organisational change, and my development, I have moved my way up from pure engineering roles to leadership positions. There was a point in my career when I decided to take a step back from being a team leader to spend more time with my children as I didn’t want the additional responsibilities to affect the balance between my career and family. For several years now, I’ve been back in a leadership position and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

Several years ago, I was made redundant from BMC when the company faced financial and organisational challenges. This had a significant impact on me as without a job, I struggled to retain my identity. I had been working ever since university and felt that shaped who I was. While it took time for me to regain my confidence, I realised I am more than an employee. As a mum of two and a wife, my identity is beyond my career achievements. To those facing similar challenges, I would encourage them to not solely identify themselves with what they achieve professionally because other things in life also bring purpose.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I, like many, have struggled with accepting that what I’m doing is good enough, and always strive to do everything perfectly. Therefore, successfully juggling being a mother and a career woman has brought me a great sense of achievement.

While my career may have progressed slower than my male counterparts, I am still proud of my achievements professionally and personally; having found my way up into a leadership role, and at the same time raising my children into great people.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in your achieving success?

When I just started my career at Tecnomatix, both my team and group leaders were women. With them in place, I didn’t feel there was a glass ceiling; I believed it was always in my power to reach great heights.

They also influenced my management style; teaching me to act with care, show genuine interest in others, build a diverse environment, and encourage a strong work-life balance for myself and my team.

What barriers for women working in tech, are still to be overcome?

While the working environment in the tech industry is positively evolving, there is still work to be done to reduce the socio-cultural obstacles females face. For example, from a young age, society tells girls to be nice and boys to be brave. Combined with the lack of female role models in senior positions across the sector, young women often aim lower in their careers than their male counterparts. They also tend to take on more family responsibilities – feeling pressure from society – creating a juggle between career and childcare. Finally, with tech being a young and emerging industry, employees often worry about landing their next role, as companies prefer hiring younger talent, and this tends to affect women disproportionally more than men.

What do you think companies can do to support and progress the careers of women working in technology?

Firstly, it is important for young, female professionals, still at the early stage of their careers, to see female leaders that demonstrate that they can reach that level as well.

Secondly, these individuals need to be proactively nurtured to succeed. Riverbed has a programme called Capstone (formerly called SteelMasters) specifically designed for connecting and encouraging high-potential people. Last year, there were more women involved than men, a positive sign of the direction our industry is moving in. Through Capstone, I was united with a team of women who now meet regularly to support each other mentally and professionally.

In addition, companies need to pay women what they are worth. We know that women often ask for less compensation during negotiations over pay, thinking they are worth less than what they are. Rather than taking advantage of this, organisations should reassure them of their value and pay them accordingly.

In an ideal world, how would you improve gender diversity in tech?

In my opinion, diversity KPIs are a powerful way to incentivise change, but efforts need to be more comprehensive than this and also tackle misconceptions about the industry which could be putting female candidates off. For example, people generally think the tech industry is about individual work when, in reality, it’s highly collaborative. What’s more, many companies present great opportunities to engage in work with a social purpose which isn’t always well publicised. Both of these aspects often appeal to women. Changing ideas of what tech can offer would go a long way in encouraging better gender diversity.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

I would encourage women to proactively explore and attend the variety of networking events angled toward women in tech. For instance, for those based near Paris, earlier in May there was a Women in Tech Global Summit which brought together women from around the world to celebrate their achievements and inspire further positive developments in STEAM.

I would also recommend reading books written by women in tech, such as She Engineers by Stephanie Lynn Slocum – an inspiring career woman who also happens to be a mum of three. In the book, Stephanie shares how you can balance work with life while building an impactful career in engineering by finding your unique spark to stand out from the crowd.