Yota TromYota Trom is the founder and CEO of Together in Tech, a nonprofit organisation and community that helps people with the soft skills, emotional intelligence and inner work that’s needed to make it in tech.

Together champions diversity, creating a space where people of all genders and backgrounds can find community, share knowledge, and support one another in their work.

Yota is also a former software engineer-turned-coach, using positive psychology to help tech leaders and teams do their best work. She is also a guest lecturer at University College London (UCL) and speaks regularly to audiences around the world about positive psychology, leadership and tech.

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

I’m a software engineer-turned-coach for tech leaders and teams, and the founder of Together in tech, a tech community with over 5000 members.

I’m working to make tech a happier, more inclusive place — one person, team and company at a time. By doing that, I want to help create a tech industry (and world) that looks like the kind of world I want to live in: diverse and hopeful and empathetic and kind.

I started my career working for companies including Yahoo and Amazon, moving up into senior roles before getting my Master’s in Applied Positive Psychology and Coaching. Now I work with companies like Sky, the Telegraph and Booking.com, helping them create better leaders and teams.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

While I was working in corporate, I never had any specific career goals or aspirations. I was just following the traditional career progression path without feeling I had much control over it. Even though my career was progressing well , something was missing, I wanted to do something that would make my job more meaningful and impactful. About 8 years ago, it was the first time that I sat back and took some time to plan my career. This led me to entrepreneurship and studying coaching and Positive Psychology.

Becoming an entrepreneur and building my own business along with the non-profit organisation does require some long term planning and setting a vision, and even though I invest time into planning I always like to keep an open mind for new opportunities that might come up. I also want to leave space to follow my heart and do things that might come up unexpectedly.

What I have learned is that the more I get to know myself, the more I follow my passion and the more I build my self-confidence; the more I dare to dream big and take ownership of my own career path.  Therefore, I only plan the next 1-2 years as I want to leave myself open to new and unexpected opportunities.

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

We all know that being a woman in tech comes with some challenges. For me the biggest challenge was back to my country Greece, where both my age and gender were a reason to have a slower career progression. There were limited opportunities for women in tech back then and especially if they wanted to work in leadership roles.

I believe that many times it might be very difficult to change the environment around us, though there is something that is within our control zone, and that is placing ourselves in the right environment: an environment that supports us and empowers us. This is what led me to leave Greece and move to London 8 years ago and it definitely was the right choice for me.

Coming to the UK my mindset transformed and expanded. I felt very empowered by seeing amazing women thriving in the industry and I found the courage to decide how I wanted my own career to progress and what impact I wanted to make. I no longer perceive the challenges as challenges, but more as opportunities to get out of my comfort zone, to grow and learn. Besides, my own journey and challenges are what inspired me to become a coach and help others have an easier career trajectory than I did — and a happier one too! This is the mindset that is helping me overcome any new challenges that come my way.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

The thing I consider to be my biggest achievement is transitioning from a corporate career to entrepreneurship.

It took me a few years and some not so successful efforts but I’m really proud that I didn’t give up. Today, I’m running my own coaching consultancy, doing a job that gives me happiness and fulfillment every day. I’m lucky to see the results of my work in my clients’ growth and successes every day; it feels like I’m getting promoted with them every time!

Besides that, my entrepreneurial journey also led me to Together in Tech, where I have the privilege to be surrounded by some amazing people who are supporting me in making my dream of making tech more kind and human come true!

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

Network. Network. Network.

This is the one advice I wish someone had given me 10 years ago; my career progress would have been so much easier and quicker had I invested more in my network earlier on.

I would have never been able to be where I am today without the help and support of so many people. London has played a huge role in that, but I believe that post-pandemic there are so many opportunities for building meaningful relationships online without the limitations of location.

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What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

  1. Surround yourself with the right people, people who support you, encourage you and believe in you.
  2. Create as many opportunities as possible to get out of your comfort zone. Add time to your calendar for personal development and commit to it.
  3. Choose the right environment.

As I mentioned in one of the questions above, do not forget that the one thing you have control over is where you are putting yourself. There are some amazing companies out there who would be very grateful to have you, that are willing to invest in you and that they do care about your happiness and wellbeing — make sure you join one of them. And of course, you’re bringing so much value to them, so while interviewing do not hesitate to ask all the questions that will help you to choose the right company, the right manager, the right team.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

First, I think it’s important to recognize that we’re operating within a system that places very real barriers in front of women — and that system needs to change, and people of all genders need to be working towards more inclusive, empathetic settings.

Because I work with so many women working in tech, I can really see the impacts of those systemic challenges in how they show up. And the biggest thing that we work on — and that we can work on for ourselves — is confidence.

It makes sense that this is an issue. We don’t have the role models we need to show us that we can step into those roles. We’re surrounded by stereotypes and biases that block us, internally and externally. But there are practices we can do to counteract these; I think each woman should invest in their personal growth in areas such as personal branding, public speaking and building their self confidence but also reach out to either make or female mentors who can act as advisors and supports through their career.

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

Of course, I’m a strong supporter of coaching. Having seen the impact it can have I believe in democratising coaching for all levels of seniority. Organisations should find ways to make coaching available to everyone, and not only to senior leaders.

Through my work I see women with great potential being underutilized or suffering from imposter syndrome and having difficulty in stepping up in leadership roles. If organisations invest more in these women when they are at the early stages of their career, besides creating a more inclusive environment they will also discover that these women are going to be the best ambassadors for their brand and their most engaged employees.

What strengths are needed by young women going forward in their career?

Courage — do not be afraid to follow your dreams, do not get intimidated when you are the only woman in the room, and instead tap into your uniqueness and bring your whole self to work. You’re there exactly because you can think and behave differently. This is’nt something that should hold you back, but instead can be your biggest strength — once you realise and embrace this uniqueness then sky is the limit!

Connect with Yota: https://www.linkedin.com/in/yotatrom/

Website: https://www.yotatrom.com/