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Who Are the Women Leading in the Hottest Tech Verticals in 2023?

Women leaders in tech
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We can all agree that we shouldn’t wait for International Women’s Day to celebrate women. Our readers’ enthusiastic reaction to our mapping of women leaders in tech, first published during a hot summer day, was a hopeful sign for us that people are not shying away from recognizing and uplifting the efforts of women. This encouragement is certainly needed, as women are still heavily underrepresented across tech sectors, despite bringing unique benefits to the table, and partly because of biases that can be corrected.

Even so, women have been trailblazers in hot verticals traditionally dominated by men, from cybersecurity to AI, and, more recently, climate tech and blockchain. So today, we want to highlight the achievements of such women – from Central and Eastern Europe, as well as outside of our region – who have been at the forefront of innovations that are changing how we work and live.

 

Women Leaders in Tech Across Key Verticals

Blockchain

Irina Albita

Geography: UK, of Romanian origin

Experience: Co-founder and Co-CEO of FilmChain, a blockchain-enabled platform empowering filmmakers and driving transparency in the film industry. Previously, she led the strategy of the first university technology accelerator program in Romania, and founded two other companies, in travel and e-commerce.

Highlights: FilmChain was a finalist or winner of multiple startup awards in Europe, including 

“Best in British Tech Upstart Finalist” in 2021, “Start-up of the Year 2020″ at the London Business Awards, and “Best Woman-led Investment in Innovation” at the UKBAA Awards 2019. Irina is also a Member of Expert Panel EU Blockchain Observatory & Forum

 

Rebecca Liao

Geography: Palo Alto, California, US

Experience: Co-Founder and CEO of Saga, a protocol for launching the next 1000 chains in the multiverse, and Advisor to Sommelier Protocol, designing their DAO. She is also a Co-Founder, Advisor and former COO at Skuchain, a currency agnostic blockchain for global trade and a World Economic Forum Tech Pioneer for 2019. 

Highlights: In 2020, the World Trade Organization named Skuchain one of the top three blockchain companies in trade and supply chain finance. She was a member of President Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign, advising on China, technology, and Asia economic policy. She also contributes regular pieces in the New York Times, The Atlantic, Financial Times, and Huffington Post.

 

Generative AI

Olha Lytvynenko

Geography: Kyiv, Ukraine

Experience: The Head of Product at Reface, an Ukraine-based mobile app empowering people to express themselves in the digital world. The app allows users to create realistic, AI-generated face swaps, use them in videos and animations, and bring images to lifes. Previously, she was Head of Mobile Apps at Genesis Tech, and founder and product manager at Avrora, a sleep booster app.
Highlights: The Reface app topped the App Store charts soon after release, and was listed among the best apps of 2020 by Google Play. By March 2022, the Reface app had been installed 200 million times.

Read more:  Bulgarian E-commerce Scaleup euShipments Acquires a Croatian Startup to Accelerate Growth in CEE

 

Mira Murati

Geography: San Francisco, California, US

Experience: CTO at OpenAI, an AI research and deployment company dedicated to the pursuit of general-purpose AI. Previously, she held Senior VP and VP position in product and partnership at OpenAI, Leap Motion, Tesla, and Zodiac Aerospace.
Highlights: Mira Murati led the team which came out with DALL-E, one of OpenAI’s trained models, which can create original and realistic images and art from text. Started as a nonprofit, this year OpenAI received an investment of up to $10 billion from Microsoft, which is now using ChatGPT in its search engine and other products.

 

Fintech

Efi Pylarinou

Geography: Zurich, Switzerland, of Greek origin

Experience: Founder of Pylarinou Advisor, a B2B content campaign services company, and ex-co-founder of Daily Fintech Advisers, a source of insights and trends in Fintech. She is a former Wall Street professional and academic.

Highlights: She has a PH.D. in Finance and has co-authored the 2022 book “Investing in Emerging Fixed Income Markets”. She is also a Member of the Evaluation Committee of Fintech Startups for International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA).

 

Jijy Oommen

Geography: Bangalore, Karnataka, India

Experience: Former CTO of Kinara Capital, a fintech company driving last-mile financial inclusion of small business entrepreneurs in India by offering fast and flexible collateral-free business loans. She is the current CTO of housing finance provider Aava Financiers, a fast growing housing finance company for middle to low income segments of customers in semi-urban and rural India.
Highlights: Kinara achieved global recognition as a high-growth company from Asia-Pacific. Jijy was recognized for her efforts in technology and finance with numerous awards and inclusion in rankings such as Top 10 Women CTOs and CIO Powerlist in 2022.

 

Health Tech

Valentina Milanova

Geography: UK, of Bulgarian origin

Experience: Founder, Managing Director & CPO of Daye, a gynae health startup on a mission to bridge the gender gap in product innovation. She is also a mentor for early-stage entrepreneurs, an advisor for social and environmental impact startups, and a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. She previously held different positions at startup accelerators and events.

Highlights: With Daye, Valentina obtained a patent for the use of tampons to alleviate menstrual cramps,  led clinical research with a large gynae health hospital in Europe,  led the company through to B-Corp status and carbon neutrality, and raised £10M in series A funding.

 

Asima Ahmad

Geography: Chicago, US

Experience: Co-founder and Chief Medical Officer at Carrot Fertility, a global fertility care platform for women. Dr. Ahmad is also a practicing reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist double board-certified in reproductive endocrinology and obstetrics and gynecology.

Read more:  Southeast Europe Reimagined: Why the Region Needs a Strong Tech Brand

Highlights: Among others, Dr. Ahmad was awarded University of Chicago’s Humanitarian Award, included on Business Insider’s 30 under 40 in Healthcare list, and recognized as a Castle Connolly Top Doctor, and one of the Top 100 University of Chicago Alumni in Technology. Last year, her company raised $75 million through a combination of debt and Series C funding in a deal led by Tiger Global Management.

 

Climate Tech

Lubomila Jordanova

Geography: Berlin, Germany, of Bulgarian origin

Experience: Founder and CEO of Plan A, a science- and AI-driven SaaS platform for business carbon accounting, decarbonisation, and ESG reporting. She also co-founded Greentech Alliance, a community connecting over 3000 green tech member companies to 500+ top tier VCs, media and experts. Her prior experience includes positions at Bitkom, a digital association in Germany committed to digitization, and various financial organizations. 

Highlights: For her contribution in the field of climate tech, Lubomila was recognized as an Obama Leader, a MIT Under 35 Innovator, and a LinkedIn Top Voice, among other awards. She has raised $10 million with Plan A so far.

 

Mette Lykke

Geography: Copenhagen, Denmark

Experience: CEO at Too Good To Go, the largest global B2C marketplace that helps retailers like restaurants, bakeries, supermarkets and hotels save the surplus food that would otherwise go to waste. In 2007, she co-founded her first passion project – Endomondo, a fitness community with more than 35 million users across the world. Prior to that, she worked as a management consultant and researcher. 

Highlights: She has grown Too Good To Go to 180,000 partner stores, 17 countries, and 70 million users around Europe, Canada and the United States. So far, the company raised around $31 million from investors.

 

Food & Agriculture

Tatsiana Zaretskaya

Geography: Tallinn, Estonia  

Experience: Founder of Laava Tech, a company developing solutions for indoor farming automation and energy savings. She has also founded Meliora, a solution that provides a transparent way to compensate for carbon emissions by connecting emitters with renewable energy providers and negative emission projects.

Highlights: Tatsiana was recognized as a MIT Innovator 35 Under 35 and included in Forbes 30 Under 30. Laava Tech received support and funding from the European Commission, EIT Climate-KIC, EIT Food, and the Ministry of Environment of Estonia. They also won numerous competitions including the University Startup World Cup and the Polar Bear Pitching Competition, Poland Prize.

 

Anastasia Volkova

Geography: Los Angeles, US, of Ukrainian origin

Experience: CEO and Co-founder at Regrow, an award-winning company that helps companies reduce GHG emissions across their supply chains and combat climate change through regenerative agriculture. She has a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Sydney in Australia, and more than 10 years of experience in academia, business, and startups.

Highlights: Under her leadership, Regrow partnered with some of the world’s largest food brands – Kellogg’s, Cargill, and General Mills, among others. She is a member of the Forbes Technology Council, a TEDx Speaker, one of MIT’s 35 Under 35 Innovators, one of BBC’s Top 100 Women, one of Top 100 Australian Innovators, and one of Bloomberg’s New Economy Catalysts.

Read more:  7 Upcoming EU Regulations in 2023: What Do They Mean for Startups?

 

Security

Manuela Ticudean

Geography: Cluj-Napoca, Romania

Experience: CPO and Co-founder at Cyscale Cloud Security, a cloud security platform that helps companies stay secure and compliant in the cloud. Previously, she worked in software development in progressively higher responsibility positions for various companies.

Highlights: So far, Cyscale Cloud Security raised $3.2 million from investors.

 

Chani Simms

Geography: London, UK

Experience: Co-founder and Managing Director at Meta Defence Labs, offering end-to-end information security, security IT infrastructure, and GDPR solutions to clients across the globe. She is also the founder and Chief Architect of SHe CISO Exec., a global training and mentoring platform in information security and leadership, and an Expert Practitioner – Information Management and Cyber Security Guild Champion at The HiveMind Network. She held numerous IT security positions at various tech and consulting companies.

Highlights: Channi Simms has been recognized for contributions in cybersecurity, including being named one of top leading cybersecurity experts by SC Media UK, CV Magazine, and IFSEC Global, and  winning the 2019 Information Security Leadership Awards: ‘Woman Information Security Professional’ EMEA.

 

Marketing and AdTech

Mada Seghete

Geography: Palo Alto, California, US, of Romanian origin

Experience: Co-founder, Managing Director, and VP Marketing and Market Development of Branch, a startup that powers deep linking and mobile attribution for advanced apps. Mada is also an investment partner at XFactor Ventures, scouting for female-led and mixed teams. She previously co-founded a mobile app, and worked in various positions for leading tech and consulting companies.

Highlights: With Branch, Mada raised over €600 million from investors, and grew the company to more than 50,000+ customer apps, including household names like Airbnb, Pinterest, Slack, Ticketmaster, Tinder, Starbucks, and Yelp. So far, she has invested in 8 companies.

 

Kat McCaw Gordon

Geography: Silicon Valley, California, US

Experience: She is the founder and CEO of The 3% Movement. It started as a passion project creating awareness around the underrepresentation of women in creative director positions, but exploded into a 2-day conference, an agency Certification Program, customized agency consulting package, and an online community of 40,000 members. She previously co-founded Maternal Instinct, a marketing agency for companies targeting mothers. Kay started her career as a copywriter.  

Highlights: Kat is a keynote speaker, was named Visionary of the Year by Advertising Age in 2018 and one of the 30 Most Creative Women in Advertising by Business Insider in 2016. So far, The 3% Movement has hosted 27 global events.

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https://therecursive.com/author/antoanelaionita/

Antoanela is a Sustainability Communications Specialist and Deputy Editor at The Recursive media. From these roles, she is helping organizations communicate their latest sustainability goals, strategies, and technologies. She writes about climate tech, ESG, impact investment, sustainability regulation, and related topics.