Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

Inspirational Woman- Victoria Bastide | CTO, LifesumI am Victoria, CTO at Lifesum, one of the world’s leading health apps with over 16 million users, ba-sed in Stockholm Sweden.

I spent the last 20 years in tech companies, in various roles within the engineering organisations, as I hold a computer science degree. The companies were mainly located in the US, but I returned to my home city, Stockholm, in 2014. I spent 1998 to 2014 in Silicon Valley at startups, both big and small.

I’ve had a range of leadership roles within engineering organisations: product development, release engineering, building & operating large-scale infrastructure, quality engineering, and opening a branch office in Bangalore.

Currently, I hold the CTO position at Lifesum and as the CTO I lead the tech team at Lifesum, and am part of the company’s executive team.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Yes, but maybe not in the same way that you would expect. I did not sit down and decide that my goal is that I will be a CTO of a tech company one day.

I have always been driven by learning new things, so the plan I had was to always take steps in my career that stretch and challenge me – as that is when I thrive.

What that meant in practice is that if I ever found myself at a crossroads, my strategy was to choose the things that I was not (yet) fully fluient in – even if that would have resulted in a ”lateral” move into the unknown, rather than a ”move up” in an area which I was already comfortable in. For ex-ample, taking the step from quality assurance, to managing infrastructure, to leading backend deve-lopers, to shifting to frontend, then from enterprise industry to consumer industry, and from web app development to a mobile development.

Also, I have very deliberately tried to move within the tech sector, managing teams that contribute to different elements. (Infrastrucure, DevOps, Backend, Front end, UX, Mobile, Web).

Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?

Yes, many challenges, all the time. Life at a startup is full of challenges, big and small, but I love them. I see a challenge as an opportunity to grow. As a former athlete I really believe in the “no pain no gain” approach.

If I am not facing challenges, or feeling at least some sense of “discomfort”, that is when I get worried. My biggest fear in life is to become complacent.

So basically, I will take any challenge, and think of it as a springboard for growth – that also helps me mentally deal with the stresses of the challenge.

For example, while I was at VMware we grew from 70 people to over 10,000. That was a tremendous challenge, the amount of people we hired and trained, while also writing and shipping pro-ducts in the meantime. I loved every part of that challenge.

Another challenge was when in my mid 20s I spent just over half a year in Bangalore, India, setting up the VMware Office. I was doing anything from racking up the servers, to setting up our test lab, to hiring and training the engineers, as a young woman from the US headquarters, in a completely new country and culture. That was a tough and super fun challenge.

Challenges can come in many shapes and sizes, but believe it or not, my switch from an Apple iPhone to an Andriod phone was the most challenging! It took me several weeks before I started to feel comfortable using an Android. But oh so fun.

When I tackle challenges I try to do it in a pragmatic and methodical way. First, I think of the worst case scenario – once you form that mental picture, you often realise that the worst case maybe isn’t even that bad. You basically give yourself a mental hook for the worst outcome, and once it’s defined, you stop worrying about it as much. And then you start working from the other end.

On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?

I am a morning person, up before 6 AM, and most days I start with 3 things: a big glass of water, strong coffee (like a true Swede), and a run. Running is my thinking and reflection time. And if I don’t get a run in in the morning, I know I will have a hard time motivating myself to get out later in the day.

My day ends with doing a quick check of the calendar and the next day, what’s going on, and the important things I need to get done. Sounds so simple, but doing a checklist of the coming day really helps keep my stress levels low. (Then always just before going to bed, I take a quick peek at my 2 sleeping boys, that, if anything makes me appreciate life.)

Tell us a little bit about your role and how did that come about?

As I mentioned, I am currently the CTO, Chief technology Officer, at Lifesum, a digital health startup. As the CTO I lead the tech team at Lifesum, and also part of the company’s executive team.

Following my years in Silicon Valley I moved back to Stockholm, where I was craving to work at a startup again. I wanted to work for a company that was creating something that I was really passionate about.

So when I got the opportunity to join the Lifesum team as the CTO in December 2015, the choice was one of the easiest ones in my career. A tech company, doing interesting things, and with a miss-ion to help people become healthier and happier.

Have you ever had a mentor or a sponsor or anyone who has helped your career?

I had several mentors, of various types. None of them through official mentor programs.

The first mentor I had was Thuan Pham, now CTO at Uber. We worked together at VMware. He took me under his wing, and we met every other week for quite some time. He helped me navigate through a lot of my early years as a manager. Having a soundboard that I could bounce ideas from was extremely valuable.

Then, during the years, I have had a lot of bosses, peers, and friends that I had great conversations with, both in terms of feedback and having very open discussions about my work situation, career, next steps, etc. I view those as mentorships too. Being open when asking for help and advice, and also giving that back to others.

Last but not least, I learned a TONNE from the members of my teams and they help my career as much as the ones mentioned above. Getting their insights, input, questions, and having open discuss-ions has really helped my career, as I get insight into other generations, other personalities, and other approaches.

If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?

A good balance between the number men and women in the tech workplace, so that there is no longer a discussion about being a woman in the work space.

(And by the way, amazingly at Lifesum we are over 40% women)

Tell us about your plans for the future?

Help building a great digital health company, that uses technology to help everyday people become healthier and happier.

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