Joanna Socha: Before you joined Neuro Device Group you worked for over 10 years in innovation consulting at a global corporation. What was the breaking point in your career when you decided to leave what seems to be a stable corporate job and why?
Ewa Rutczynska: Having children was the turning point. I realized that I wanted to be the owner of my own time and have more influence on how I organize myself. So I decided to change the hectic lifestyle I had at that time. Back in the corporation – there were the customer’s needs, different time zones and requests to do something ASAP that impacted my time the most. I did not want to feel as if I was missing something in the development of my children. Finding a new career path was not easy at all. I had to find a golden mean between development and self-fulfillment, and the fact that I wanted to be with my children and see the milestones in their growth. Working in a small company definitely gives more opportunities to decide how you organize your agenda. I still work with external clients but I am not directly involved with them like previously on a consultant-client basis. It gives me more space and flexibility.
What have been some of the challenges you faced on the road to change?
This is going to sound ridiculous but the biggest challenge was my appearance. I look quite young – it may seem to be beneficial (laugh) but in your professional life it may result in your business partners not taking you too seriously. Therefore, I faced a lot of challenges when I was trying to convince management to trust me with a complex project. During the first business meetings, I used to feel distrust from the parties in the meeting. It required a lot of determination and willpower not to give up in these circumstances. I had to convince myself that I had to do what I wanted to in the first place and say what I wanted to say. It usually took one meeting to make them change their minds and attitudes towards me.
What skills and experiences helped you get to the management position in tech?
I believe self-motivation and focus on the results were my strengths. Once I commit to something I make sure to do it really well. Whatever I do I want it to be my footprint. I try to always do my homework, thanks to which the meetings I attend are constructive and efficient. I am also a natural multi-tasker.
What advice do you have for emerging leaders developing their career paths?
Don’t be afraid of change and try to step out of your comfort zone as often as possible. This is actually when you are able to get to know yourself the best, realize what makes you happy and what you really want to do. It took me a lot of time to leave my comfort zone because I appreciated work in a corporation far too much – I learned a lot there and gained valuable skills that I can apply not only to my work but also to other areas in my life. However, I believe that if you feel like changing something, trying something new, it is worth listening to your heart. If you do what you love, you will be very good at it, genuine and successful.
About Aphasia: It is an impairment of language, affecting the production or comprehension of speech and the ability to read or write. It often results from stroke or traumatic injury to the brain. According to the National Aphasia Association, more people have aphasia than have many other common conditions, including Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis. Despite this, over 84% of people in the United States have never heard the term “Aphasia.” (Data from the 2016 Aphasia Awareness Study). Neuro Device Group is currently developing a system that aims to improve the efficiency of aphasia therapy and relocate it from distant centers to the patients’ homes. The company won the local stage of the Chivas Venture competition recognizing socially responsible startups and was chosen as one of the best three companies of the first stage of the international level.
Edited by: Phyllis Budka
Translated by: Aga Kopec