#HERpower with Sofi from Exalate

#HERpower with Sofi from Exalate

Next in our celebration of HERpower, we have Sofi, one of our talented engineers.

Hailing from Ukraine, she takes us through her journey of how she became interested in the tech industry, the highs and lows of the industry as a whole, and her experience as a trans woman in IT.

Let’s get into it!


Sofi Rosinska, a product developer at Exalate, based in Berlin, is committed to shaping Table Grid’s technical future. With a focus on people-first initiatives and a knack for solving complex challenges, she brings out the best in every task assigned to her. In her free time, she enjoys exploring Berlin’s green spaces, reading sci-fi and fantasy, and expressing herself through singing and poetry.

The Conversation

Question: Could you please introduce yourself and what you do at Exalate?

Sofi: Hi! I’m Sofi. I’m a project engineer. I work in tech support, development, and cross-team communication.

Question: Tell us what you like most about your role.

Sofi: I like having an impact in a lot of different places, so it’s not just doing tech support or just development, but having this general position. I think it suits how my brain works really well. I’m having an impact on multiple parts of the product, and I feel more ownership. It’s important that my input has an effect on the performance of the project. 

Question: How do you perceive the inclusivity of the tech sector?

Sofi: I do think that I’m in a very particular position, where I got off mostly easy as a trans woman who transitioned after getting the job. I’ve found Exalate to be a pretty welcoming space. I think that, for the most part, I didn’t face any challenges at the job. I certainly feel that the overall industry vibe is very male-dominated. I hear a lot from my friends in the industry about their discriminatory experiences. It puts a lot of pressure on them to perform, knowing that the industry may not always extend the same level of acceptance as it does to men.

I feel like Exalate has a good inclusion track record. Overall, in the company, I think there are a lot of different and colorful people.

Question: Can you tell us about a particular person who inspired you in your career journey? 

Sofi: I got inspired to do IT very early, I think I was in ninth grade. My uncle at that time was a software developer, and it seemed like a very fun and interesting thing to do. He showed me some of his projects, and I learned about the quality of life, and the salary. So for me, it seemed like a win-win scenario: do something interesting and cool while also having a good quality of life.

My part of the family kind of struggled with that, so this is something that I looked for even when I was young. 

Question: Could you tell us about a project or specific accomplishment that you are very proud of?

Sofi: The main one is the platform certification for the product. The first time that I was doing the Jira data center evaluation, there was not a lot of guidance available, so I’m particularly proud of being able to achieve that. 

Question: What skills or strengths do you think make you stand out in your role?

Sofi: I think the main skill that is necessary to stand up in any role is a feeling of responsibility for the end result. Even if a person lacks some technical skills or even some soft skills, if they are personally invested in how things go, that gives them motivation and purpose. My position is really quite a generalist, so I can’t say that any particular skill of mine gave me an opportunity to stand out, but I would say that being personally invested and having that feeling of ownership is something very important to me, and my performance.

I think the main skill that is necessary to stand up in any role is a feeling of responsibility for the end result.

Question: How do you navigate work-life balance, especially considering your Ukrainian background and the ongoing war?

Sofi: It’s a bit easier for me because I am in Berlin. I don’t want to come off as saying that living in Berlin and just being worried is the same as actively living in a war zone. I wouldn’t say that I have a good work-life balance. While Exalate has been accommodating, the structure of how I’ve been working recently isn’t very good. I’m thinking of restructuring my time and trying to make a plan on how to fix the work-life balance.

Question: What initiatives or changes do you believe could further promote diversity and inclusion within the company and the broader tech industry?

Sofi: I feel like Exalate has a good inclusion track record. Overall, in the company, I think there are a lot of very different, very colorful people, so that’s already good. On the industry level, however, I feel there is a very toxic vibe. You have to devote a hundred and twenty percent of your life to this, or you’re not good enough. I’m not talking specifically about women or LGBT people, but I have a lot of friends who have, for example, chronic illnesses or who are disabled so that impacts them in the industry. They are not willing to switch to the IT industry because they feel this vibe and this constant weight of, either you’re performing every day as though it’s your last day on Earth, or you’re not good enough for the industry. On the specific topic of including women and LGBT people, I think that’s just the cultural shift that needs to happen. A lot of companies, I feel, are not inherently discouraging the hiring of non-cisgendered men, especially in their engineering positions. The problem is, that because of the structure of the interview processes and the review of resumes, it can lead to very negative results. There are statistics that show people with very standard names are more likely to get hired. Being non-white and a woman makes you less hireable, so I think a lot of STEM people are kind of rethinking the processes and trying to eliminate this discrimination. I think that’s really important because the culture inside the industry cannot change in a day, but we need to do everything to prevent this implicit bias. These are systemic problems, and they cannot be fixed by one person or even one company, they need to be fixed on an industry level. The industry is dominated by America, and America has a lot of problems with racism and discrimination.

Question: Can we talk about your transition, if that’s ok? From the perspective of how being a part of Exalate and its culture impacted your experience as a woman in tech?

Sofi: I think Exalate is a pretty safe company to work for as a trans woman, but also, that’s my specific experience because I think I was able to recommend myself in a positive way before coming out. I think that for me specifically, it gave me a stable platform to just do my thing and figure it out while also working and not worrying that my transition would affect how people see me at work. This is not something I would be able to say about some other companies, so that has given me a positive outlook on being here.

Question: If you could travel back in time to the start of your career journey, what advice would you give yourself?

Sofi: Don’t get stuck in workplaces that don’t appreciate you, and the second one is to do an ADHD evaluation. I’m currently going through an evaluation pretty easily, and it seems like I might have it, and it would explain a lot about how my brain works. I think that will help me not just with work but with my life in general, and I think if I had done that earlier, I would be much more developed as a professional.

I think Exalate is a pretty safe company to work for as a trans woman.

Question: Could you share some interesting facts about your home country and its culture?

Sofi: I think the culture that I experienced is very much the culture of my local queer bubble, and that’s a very different experience than general Ukrainian culture because that’s a very specific subset. In my experience, Ukrainians tend to be pretty open-minded compared to some other places in Europe. You can usually tell what someone thinks about you pretty easily, and it’s not too hard to connect with them on a personal level.

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