Today I had the pleasure of interviewing Anastasia Zamyshlyaeva, Co-Founder and Chief Architect at Reltio. Her mission was to solve some of the biggest data and analytics problems others in the industry hadn’t yet been able to address. She architected the solution, Reltio Cloud, from the ground up, which enables businesses to gain direct and immediate access to the customer info they need to do their jobs better and faster. Receiving her M.S. in Computer Science from the Chelyabinsk State University, Anastasia was an outstanding student who received a number of grants from Russian scientific funds.
Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I fell in love with algorithms early on. When I was in the third grade, living in the USSR, I took experimental coding classes because it was so exciting to me. And when I was seven years old, my dad bought a ZX Spectrum personal computer from Sinclair Research. I’d play games on it for hours and save coding programs on audiotapes to teach myself how to code. I graduated with honors from high school. When I attended a special senior class event, I was asked what my future career plans were. I was confident in saying that I would own a company that would build an impactful software and disrupt an industry, whatever that industry may be. About ten years later, Manish Sood and I created Reltio.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
It’s hard to choose just one, but I would have to say when your company’s first customer goes live It’s the most interesting stage of the journey because it’s the first success story you’re sharing as a team. This feeling of creating something together and having the initial customer put their trust in us is a special moment for the whole organization. I remember not being able to sleep the weekend before they went live because I was so excited. And thankfully, everything went smoothly!
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
One of my first mistakes early on was believing I should only focus on software because it’s the field I worked in. There are many interesting verticals in tech — IoT, blockchain, healthcare, etc. — that can be incorporated into your approach for new ideas and strategies. At Reltio, I’m responsible for growing the engineering team, so I’ve realized that I need to pay close attention to innovations in other industries, and pull the different strengths from each team member. Everyone’s background is diverse, and so naturally each they have the ability to bring a unique approach to building software and solving pain points within a tech platform.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
We built everything from scratch, on the cloud, with a clear vision of what was lacking in the data management industry and where it needed to be. In 2011, cloud tech was beginning to boom, but what was in the market was what we call “legacy software.” This is traditional software that companies buy, install on their own servers, and manage themselves. Think about a shrink-wrapped Office Suite that you probably bought at one time — or many times — versus Office 365, Microsoft’s SaaS offering. Our competitors legacy software becomes obsolete, is expensive to manage, and couldn’t scale. Somewhat surprisingly, that is still the case. We knew exactly what we needed to createAfter many long days and nights, we founded Reltio. One defining moment, when I knew what we had built was special, was when we hired our third employee, Curt, on the sales side. We showed our software to a potential customer and the initial feedback was amazing. They were thrilled with what they saw. We just knew at that moment that it was the perfect timing and the right technology, and customers were getting it.
What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?
The most important advice I’d give is to not even focus on your gender or go into a job interview thinking about the fact that you’re a female. Being a woman raised in the USSR, I had many examples of strong female leaders in my life who were absolutely fearless. The women before me lost a lot of men in WWII and had to take over and lead during a pivotal time in our country. No matter what career a woman wants to pursue, don’t feel like your gender will affect your goals, either positively or negatively. Just focus on the goal at hand, dream big, and don’t put other people’s perception of gender in your path of achievement.
What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?
Communication with your team is key and in order to build an effective strategy for this, make sure you communicate to your team to ask questions! Also ensure the team keeps each other in the loop on out-of-the-box thoughts and “crazy” ideas to better make decisions that will benefit the mission.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My biggest supporter is definitely my husband. When I came to the United States, I didn’t have any family here to lean on and encourage me as I was building my career. It’s really hard to be on your own during that time in your life, especially as an immigrant in a new country speaking a different language. Today, as a working mom, I am very grateful to have a strong partnership in my marriage, where I always feel encouraged to work harder and strive for more in my career.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Through product and mentorship. With our product, we help customers achieve their brand’s mission — it’s wonderful being a part of their strategy to operate efficiently. And through mentorship, I work to empower and inspire my colleagues at all levels.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
- You don’t have to be a perfectionist: What you learn from your mistakes is valuable.
- Invest in relationships: Such as going out for coffee with a co-worker or taking the time to attend industry events.
- Don’t be afraid of public speaking: We’re often times our own worst critic, be grateful that there is an audience that is eager to hear your expertise and perspectives on something.
- Work smarter, not harder: Learn to prioritize, not everything needs your attention at that very moment.
- Trust your instinct: Don’t second guess yourself when it comes to making decisions, acting is better than always hesitating.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I am a big proponent of the minimalist movement, and Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. I agree to minimize waste and really differentiate between what I want and what I need. I find that asking myself on a consistent basis, “Does this bring me joy?” or “Should I be using this more efficiently?” has helped me realize I can have a great impact on the environment. When you reevaluate what you have, it puts a lot of things in perspective and teaches you gratitude.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite life lesson quote is, “To keep the body in good health is a duty…otherwise we shall not be able to keep the mind strong and clear.”
When I first moved to the United States in my late 20s, I would frequently catch colds and it greatly impacted my ability to do my job. I made the commitment to join a triathlon as an adult, and after four months of training, I completed an Olympic distance triathlon. I’m happy that I’ve worked my way into a healthier work/life balance, and I continue to see the benefits both mentally and physically.
We are blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
I’d love to have a private lunch with Elon Musk he is beyond the definition of an innovator. He truly has such expertise, in so many different areas, and (almost) always executes them perfectly!