Tanya Lushchuk has never been afraid of the unknown. After a successful early career in public relations and digital advertising, she left agency life for an in-house position in a completely different industry: pharmaceutical technology.
Working in the Ukrainian tech industry was a big change for her, and she soon found herself wondering if she’d made a mistake. “If you work for a PR or advertising agency, you know there’s this groove and energy, and lots of interesting projects,” Tanya explained. “For me, pharma tech was a bit boring and I couldn’t find the same sparkle I had before.”
She thought she had lost that “sparkle” for good until she stumbled upon a video from an American tech conference. “There I saw people with that sparkle,” she rejoiced. “They were talking about a technology platform with such delight, such inspiration. I decided right then that I needed to discover more.” What Tanya had found was the Dreamforce live stream, and the platform at the heart of the discussion was Salesforce.
This is when Tanya started to feel excited about her new industry. She began to understand what technology could do for the pharmaceutical industry, and all industries. To help her company become more innovative, she decided to pursue a Salesforce Admin certification at her company. At first, management was supportive, and she promptly embarked on three long months of studying.
However, when it came time to take the exam, her managers had changed their minds. They told her that she could continue working with Salesforce but that they preferred (publicly) to certify one of her male colleagues instead. “It’s a sad part of the story that, in this part of the world, this is how many companies operate,” she explained. This wasn’t the first (nor the last) time she’d miss a career opportunity because she’s a woman.
“I was really upset after that,” she remembered. “It was hard for me to be productive at work, to concentrate, to stay motivated. Then I read an article on the Salesforce blog titled, ‘6 Tips to Turn Your Power Switch Back On.’ It helped me turn from total demotivation to the desire to do something on my own. I began to understand that my environment doesn’t define who I am or what I’m going to achieve.”
Tanya set out to create an action plan of personal improvement for herself. She changed jobs, started her own consulting company, and promised to get more Ukrainian women into technology. Here is her story:
Q: After you were told that your company wouldn’t support your Salesforce certification, what did you do?
A: After two weeks of a not-very-nice mood, I decided that I would support every woman I can to get into tech. I will motivate and help them. I will tell them they’re worthy of a job in tech and that they can achieve it. Along with some ex-colleagues of mine — who had also experienced similar setbacks — we created a #womenintech initiative on Twitter to spread the word for girls in this territory and to help them believe in themselves.
Now, when I see an open job, I contact my network to try to help a woman get the position. In the last six months, we’ve closed two jobs — one of them was very special to me. This woman is a mother of five, so I created a personal goal to get her a tech job because I understood she needed to have the best salary she could get. Now, she’s two months into the new role and everything is looking up.
Q: What inspired you to follow a career path in tech despite the setbacks you experienced?
A: I was at big European tech event with more than 100 companies — all huge companies, from pharmaceuticals to different tech providers. And it was nearly all guys. But then I saw the Salesforce booth with young women and it was so unusual for me to see young women at a tech event. These women seemed really passionate about tech and, I thought, "if they can do this, then so can I." That’s when I decided for myself that I should work harder and that I should get my Salesforce Admin certification. So ultimately not being able to get that certification through my company was a huge let down. But you know, every negative situation brings some positive.
Q: Is that why you decided to start your own consulting company?
A: I had the idea to create something new because of what I observed in the companies I worked with. I saw the way they operated, and I always thought to myself, ‘they should move faster, implement more innovations, and not be afraid of taking a risk or trying something new.’
There are so many exciting technologies out there, and when something excites you, when it makes your heart beat faster, you know you’ve found your passion. I decided to help other companies become more productive because — especially in the Eastern European market — not everyone has access to up-to-date information or technology innovations. So I registered my own company, Independent Digital Transformation Strategies and Consulting. We already have five partners and I’m ready to work hard to make this dream come true.
Q: How do you define being a Trailblazer?
A: For me, Trailblazers are the people who aren’t afraid of change, who welcome change, and cannot wait to see what’s next. They’re the people who never stop learning. They aren’t afraid to share their knowledge, and they’re ready to help and inspire others.
Tips for Getting Started in Technology
For Tanya, learning about Salesforce took bravery and perseverance, as well as a strong support system. Connecting with thought leaders, ex-colleagues, and MVPs gave her the support she needed to blaze a new trail for herself and other Ukrainian women. Here are a few folks who helped her stay inspired to keep going:
As CEO of Thought Leadership Lab, Denise Brosseau helps entrepreneurs and executives accelerate their journey from leader to thought leader. She is also a regular contributor to the Salesforce blog and wrote the article (6 Tips to Turn Your Power Switch Back On) that originally inspired Tanya to become a Trailblazer.
Chris Duarte is the Editor-in-Chief of Trailhead, leading the team that makes learning Salesforce fun. As Tanya put it, “she’s so pure and honest in everything she says and does that it’s impossible not to be inspired by her.”
Stephanie Buscemi is the Executive Vice President of Product and Solutions Marketing at Salesforce. She was the first Salesforce woman that Tanya saw speak (note: you can watch her most recent Dreamforce keynote here). She remembers thinking, “I want to be like her! I want to have all that knowledge, confidence, strength, and stamina!”
In addition to working as the Lead Applications Engineer at Kenandy, Daniel Peter is also a Salesforce MVP. He’s also an ally for women and LGBT Trailblazers around the world.
Do you know of an inspiring Trailblazer? Tell us on Twitter using the #BlazingTrails hashtag.
This article is part of on ongoing series highlighting the many voices and stories that make up Salesforce’s diverse community of Trailblazers.