In this new “Women in Tech” series, we will introduce you to talented tech professionals that are riding the wave of change in the most exciting tech companies and ecosystem organizations in our region. Having a strong and devoted team is one of the prerequisites of success for every startup venture and what investors are most often looking for, so we want you to meet the ladies who are making innovation happen.
We will explore different roles and jobs – from technical talents to professionals responsible for the growth and exploration of new markets, to IT jobs you haven’t even heard of, yet. We will also talk about what it is like to work in tech – the skills you need, the challenges you meet, the work environment that helps you thrive, and the future of work altogether.
In today’s interview, we follow the professional journey of Stefi Vasilopoulou, co-founder of Hellenides, a career network for women in Greece, launched at the beginning of 2022. Based in Athens, Stefi has an inspirational portfolio. She has been an entrepreneur for over a decade and has also been sharing her knowledge as a consultant and angel investor in the last few years.
With a background in management – she is a former student of Columbia University from New York, she has a few startups under her belt by the age of 35. In 2008 she launched a digital platform for students to exchange books; in 2009 she continued with an online advertising and performance marketing marketplace; and in 2018 she launched the first inspirational podcast in Greece.
As an avid promoter of the work-personal life balance, Stefi shares with us her 2022 goals, and what will the future of work look like now that technology has accelerated many opportunities.
THE RECURSIVE: What can you tell us about your career path so far?
Stefi Vasilopoulou: Always fascinated by entrepreneurship and problem solving, I launched my first business when I was 20 years old. Today, after 15 years, I am a serial entrepreneur, angel investor, advisor, mentor, and podcast host. I have consulted more than 400 companies across 17 countries and entrepreneurship never ceases to amaze me.
What inspired the launch of Hellenides?
When I started my career, I felt very lonely.
I did not have any mentors, advisors, investors, or women entrepreneurs around my age to discuss and be inspired. The vision behind Hellenides is to drive change for ambitious women in Greece, empowering and connecting them, providing tools, training, and a community for them to thrive, both professionally and personally.
How would you explain to a 7-year old what your job is?
As a more experienced adult, I can help kids, like you, solve problems, achieve better grades, read more effectively, be stronger in sports, set smart goals, be more confident, and follow your dreams.
What have been the advantages and disadvantages of developing in your field as a woman?
It’s a great thing to be a woman today.
We have to understand that there are no boundaries to what we can achieve. We have to create opportunities and feel empowered to pursue our dreams and do whatever we want to do. We need to give women the autonomy and flexibility they need to thrive. Allow them to be their authentic selves. We came into this world to give our best selves.
What does a day in your life look like? Tell us something we don’t know about the field you’re working in.
I am helping exceptional entrepreneurs, investors, and startups connect, scale, and succeed. Reviewing pitch decks, advising companies, discussing angel investing, creating tools, talks, content, and planning podcast episodes. At the same time, I am also training for a Triathlon, swimming during winter, maintaining my routines, and cultivating my meditation practice.
What did you want to be growing up and how has this vision changed over the years?
I wanted to become an entrepreneur and solve problems from a young age.
When I was six, my favorite game was to gather all the electronic equipment from the house and receive phone orders from clients. A simulation of a store.
Entrepreneurship is a journey, and even though these years I have created solutions for my problems, I feel it’s time to make a larger impact. Help the tech ecosystem at scale.
What is your definition of success?
Being free to choose what/when/how I want or I don’t want to do something. Having the time to live authentically and be aligned with my values, personality, and soul.
What do you think makes you good at what you do?
Courage, grit, ambition, authenticity, empathy, intuition, passion, humility, and being risk-tolerant.
How has technology shaped your career?
Technology is a tool that has accelerated all aspects of my career. It is solving more and more problems. Excited about Web 3.0 & Web 4.0.
What are your professional goals for this year?
As a serial entrepreneur, I have been among the first angel investors in Greece ten years ago, advisor to 400+ companies, mentor and community builder with over 120,000 people, and an unparalleled network of strategic contacts. It’s time to enter the Venture Capital world.
Tell us about how you coped with a big failure in your career? How did you move on?
I am a firm believer in failing fast.
We have to put our failures on a pedestal, instead of hiding them. We don’t learn much when things go right. It’s when things go wrong that we learn the most.
One of my ventures in the wellness travel industry was not scalable and profitable. So, I terminated it in the second year of operations. People get very emotional and tied to their venture and this can have a detrimental effect when they think of continuing or stopping their business.
What is your motivator during not-so-productive days?
The sea. Every day, and especially these not-so-productive days, it is a constant reminder of change, compassion, resilience, bliss, grace, purity, love, and gratitude. My endless inspiration.
It was my life’s dream to live by the sea.
From remote work, through automation, 4-day working week, to universal basic income, how do you imagine the future of work?
Now, you can live wherever you have the best life and you can work wherever you have your best job. These don’t need to be connected if you work for the right company or you create it. The future of work is collaborative. It must be equitable for all, more diverse, and inclusive.
You can be in a hotel conference room and then go swimming. You can pick the location to what you have to do. This means a healthier work-life balance for sure.
We also need to have a balance between in-person and remote. In-person is important for certain things (i.e creative processes, like feedback and social events). We will observe companies creating multiple offices early in their trajectory. We need these serendipity moments (i.e the coffee chats that will happen in the elevator before a meeting).
It’s challenging to create alignment at scale and remote, as well as a sense of connection between employees. People have to find new ways to meet others and they have forgotten how to do that. We have to embrace it, not ignore it.