Quavo Associate Test Engineer Olyvia Shimko recently sat down for a Q&A where she shared her experience as a woman in the predominately male tech industry:
Tell us about your background!
I recently graduated from Western Michigan University with dual degrees in Mathematics and German and a minor in Economics. I’m actually the first in my family to graduate from college. I grew up in Grosse Pointe, Michigan.
What led you to your career in Fintech? What were you doing before you came here? What attracted you to this work?
Growing up, I always had a strong aptitude for math, which led me to look for a career in STEM. I was referred to Quavo by a fellow colleague, Jessica Wile. I had heard that Quavo supported the greater inclusion of women in STEM, so I decided to apply. I joined the Quavo team as an intern last June and was offered the full-time position of Associate Test Engineer after graduation.
What’s your current position at Quavo? Can you give me a brief overview of what you do in your work?
I have been an Associate Test Engineer since January, and I work on our ARIA dispute management AI team. I am responsible for testing our software’s code in both front and back-end scenarios.
What would you say most motivates you to do what you do? What are you most excited or passionate about? What are the goals you most want to accomplish in your work? Not so much the goals that are in your job description, but the goals you hold personally.
My greatest professional motivation is the team around me. I appreciate the level of effort and energy that my coworkers put into their projects and any assistance I might need with my own. A goal of mine is to use my skillset to make meaningful connections through positive interactions. As a Mathematics major, I am a complex problem solver, and I like to use that ability to shatter stereotypes surrounding me.
Women’s History Month is and always will be a great opportunity to learn about female history, stories, accomplishments, and perspectives. The financial industry and even the tech industry have been predominately white and male in America. Do you think that is changing? What do you think needs to happen for more representation and inclusion of women in the Fintech industry?
This is definitely getting better every year; more women are joining the field all the time. As someone who faced many microaggressions from a young age, I know that those can affect a woman’s confidence. Women need to be free of those kinds of things if we are going to ensure equal representation and inclusion in the workplace.
Have you ever experienced difficult situations as a woman in the tech industry that you are comfortable sharing? How did you overcome the challenges you faced?
When I studied at Western Michigan University, I was often subjected to microaggressions as the only woman in most of my classes. I stayed with STEM because I was good at it, and being in this field gives me the chance to prove what I can do to those who underestimated me.
Do you think the start-up mentality in the Fintech industry provides more opportunities for greater diversity than in other industries? Why if so and if why not, how can the industry do better?
It depends on where and when those opportunities come; just because a door is open does not necessarily make it equitable. Most start-ups are made up of like-minded and similar individuals in the early days, which can sometimes hinder diversity. This is probably because it is easier to take risks when you are partnered with someone you know. But later in their life cycle, start-ups begin to open doors and opportunities for underrepresented communities.
What does Women’s History Month mean for you both professionally and personally?
Women’s History Month means a lot to me; I love empowering the women around me. I’d even go so far as to call myself a hype woman! I appreciate all of the sacrifices that women have made for me to reach this point. We need to keep pushing for equal representation, and it is the only way to increase women’s confidence and success in the workplace.
Is there a prominent female figure that has influenced you throughout the years?
Sofya Kovalevskaya was the first female mathematician to get her doctorate in Europe. She was born in the 1850s, and I studied her math! The following quote from Dr. Kovaleyskaya was particularly inspiring:
“It is impossible to be a mathematician without being a poet in soul.”