#HERpower with Anna Odrynska and Khrystyna Shparyk from Alpha Serve

#HERpower with Anna Odrynska and Khrystyna Shparyk from Alpha Serve

Join us in celebrating International Women’s Day as we launch #HERpower, spotlighting the remarkable women driving our industry forward.

Get inspired by the women who inspire us!

This edition of #HERpower features something quite special: A double interview with Anna and Khrystyna of Alpha Serve (now Tempo), one of Exalate's key partners.

Anna, co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer shares her insights alongside Khrystyna, the partner manager.

They both take us through their career paths and how they navigated the uncertainties brought on by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Bio: Anna Odrynska

Anna Odrynska is the Chief Strategy Officer and Founder of Ex-Co-Alpha Serve (now part of Tempo). She has a strong project management background and joined the tech industry in January 2019 to drive the Alpha Serve products launch and growth across multiple ecosystems. She has been responsible for business development, partner relations, and marketing, currently managing a team of 7 people. She combines her role at work with being a mom of two great kids. Reading and traveling are her hobbies. 

Bio: Khrystyna Shparyk

Khrystyna Shparyk, PhD, Business Development & Partner Manager @Alpha Serve (now part of Tempo). She graduated from Ivan Franko National University of Lviv (Ukraine) with a PhD in international economics. After a few years of teaching macroeconomics at the University, she joined the Alpha Serve team, managing partnerships within key ecosystems. In her role, she’s dedicated to fostering and nurturing robust partnerships, actively contributing to the growth and prosperity of Alpha Serve’s Atlassian product lineup. Her hobbies are traveling, books, and theater. But she likes spending time with her family the most. She has 2 amazing kids. 

The Conversation

Question: Thank you so much for agreeing to participate in our initiative and taking the time to talk to us today. Can you please briefly introduce yourselves? 

Khrystyna: My name is Khrystyna. I’m a partner manager at Alpha Serve. I come from and live in the western part of Ukraine. 

Anna: My name is Anna. I’m the Сhief Strategy officer at Alpha Serve. I’m also one of the company’s founders. I’m from Ukraine, and I’ve been in the industry for about five years. 

Question: Great, and could you tell us a bit about your professional background?

Khrystyna: Before I got into the tech industry, I used to teach macroeconomics at the Ukrainian Catholic University. When the war in Ukraine started, I decided to look for a job that didn’t depend on the Ukrainian economy. So I decided to take a project management course and pivot. I realized during the application process that it might not exactly be for me, so I started looking for different positions. And then I stumbled upon the partner manager position at Alpha Serve, and I realized it was my dream position. 

Anna: I’d like to add that because we have a joint interview, part of the reason Khrystyna was successful in her job application is because she was persistent. I was the one who hired Khrystyna. She kept knocking on the door, kept saying she wanted the job, that she wanted to work with us. In our first call, she proactively made a presentation about our business, which was a killer argument. And we thought, well if she can do that for us, maybe she can do it for our partners. I’m incredibly happy with her because she’s the exact type of person we want on board. 

Question: It’s inspiring to hear about the significance of persistence in achieving one’s dream job. Anna, could you please share more about your background?

Anna: I don’t have a technical background. I found myself in the tech industry, but I’ve had a really diverse career. I’ve worked in marketing logistics, project management, and a lot of other things. Before I started at Alpha Serve, I was on my own journey, trying to start some personal entrepreneurial projects. One of them was in the fashion industry, and one was in online education, but both failed. I was a little bit desperate about what to do next. I just knew I didn’t want to go back to the corporate monster, but it was the easiest way with my CV. I wanted a new project, but I was out of ideas, and I realized I couldn’t do it alone. 

My partner and I had known each other for ages, but he had his own company. We started meeting regularly and talking about what I was going to do next. 

Our first work together was for me to take a look at how to switch the business model of his company from outsourcing. So, I was tasked with studying the market and working out key challenges. Discovering the industry was a steep learning curve, and eventually, we decided to focus all of our efforts on one thing, and that’s how I came to be there today. 

Our company was recently acquired, which wasn’t initially the purpose. We were just interested in how much we were worth and what the opportunities were, and then some conversations started from that. Eventually, we decided to sell the business to the industry leader.

Our main concerns were that the product should stay the same and that the people should stay the same, especially because most of our team is in Ukraine. 

The third priority we had was that the acquiring company had a clear strategy going forward and a clear vision for our products. 

We found this opportunity with Tempo, who is like our new big brother. We looked at what they were offering and realized it was the perfect fit for us, our strategy, our products, and our customers. It was a challenging decision for us to go into a life-changing event like that, but we decided to try it out. Additionally, it’s a great sign for the partners, our employees, and the product, and it’s a sign the world still wants to invest in Ukrainian products and teams.

Question: Can you tell me in one sentence what you do as a chief strategy officer?

Anna: No, haha. I’ll try though. My partner is a technical person and business-minded, so his responsibilities are the more technical and operational stuff. So, my role is focused on external communications, promotions, marketing, and positioning. In the beginning, we were working on a lot of different things, and it was my job to say, “Ok, let’s select and focus on one thing.” 

Question: And how about you, Khrystyna?

Khrystyna: I mostly communicate with partners because we develop apps, and our partners sell them, so it’s extremely important we have good communication with them. I also attend several events because we need to be very active in this space.

Question: And what do you like most about the role? 

Khrystyna: Oh, I love interacting with people, that’s why I love my role.

Anna - We all know how technical people get very excited about their work in development and technology. But sometimes, they don’t ask whether anyone needs the product. So I was the one asking questions about monetization and other business aspects.

Question: And what are the key challenges that you face as a woman in tech?

Khrystyna: I think a lot of the challenges I face have to do with being a woman in tech in Ukraine because our country is going through some extreme challenges. Last winter, we only had four hours per day of electricity, because Russia destroyed our infrastructure. And you cannot tell a client or a partner that you need to skip a meeting; business must go on. It was really challenging, I would wake up in the morning and have no idea how the day would go. I was moving all over the city, trying to find places that had electricity. I think we did a good job because no one noticed that. People were also very tolerant, so that’s great. 

Question: What skills or strengths do you think make you actually successful in your role?

Khrystyna: As a Ukrainian woman, we’ve been going through ups and downs, mostly downs, lately. It’s tough to deal with on a personal level. So I think maybe one of my strengths is the fact that I can adjust to any circumstances, and things just aren’t that stressful anymore.

If you live in a stable country where everything is fine, you might find small things stressful. But being Ukrainian, you wake up in the morning and already feel super lucky to be alive; to have your coffee without air raid sirens.

Anna: I think people in this type of position need to be proactive in terms of communication, open-minded, and great at talking to people from different backgrounds and cultures. Don’t be shy; if you see something that needs to be done, just do it.

Question: And what about you, Anna? What are the strengths and qualities that you see as necessary to be successful in your role? 

Anna: First of all, you need to be very well organized. I think it’s important to be proactive because you’re responsible for helping build the company. You need to be able to manage your own fears and be courageous. 

This is especially true during the war. You have no plan, you don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but you can do something today. 

Anna - I also follow the rule of small steps: you can never see the big picture, so plan the small steps to lead you to approximately where you want things to be. Take small steps on a daily basis. Ask yourself, “What can I do today that will get me a bit further?”

Question: How do you build a culture of support in the company? Who’s responsible for setting up that culture?

Anna: My perception is that every company can be a good place to work for the people who share the company culture. 

The people who start the company have their own culture and values, and they build their company with those values. So if you’re open and honest, you’ll attract people with those values and build your business in a way that reflects your culture.

Question: And what about you, Khrystyna? What is it that you look for in a company’s culture to make it a healthy environment to work?

Khrystyna: I think a healthy company culture is when you work but don’t feel like you’re working. You’re being yourself, you’re doing what you like, and work should feel like a hobby. I feel like this job is the best I’ve ever had because the people at Alpha Serve share my values. I feel like I’m home and I can trust them. 

Anna: I know that if someone is smart and interested, they can learn agility. That’s why I was so sure Khrystyna would be able to perform so well, to communicate, and to ask if she didn’t know something. That’s much more important than reading all the books on the topic, in my opinion. 

Anna - I think that company culture comes from the owners and the founders.

Question: If you could switch jobs with someone, who would that be?

Khrystyna: I would like to switch it for one day with someone who is very technical, for example, a front-end developer. It appears to be really challenging, but also fascinating. 

Question: How about you? 

Anna: That’s an interesting question. With the acquisition, there are a lot more options because Tempo has more levels and different teams, structures, and tasks. So from that perspective, I’d want to spend a day working in a high-level role at Tempo to see from a strategic perspective how those people work on a daily basis. 

Khrystyna - I think a healthy company culture is when you work but don’t feel like you’re working.

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

Anna: I would like the world to know that Ukraine is a place of wonderful people who are known for their hospitality. Ukraine is not a part of Russia; it’s a separate country with a separate culture. We have a wonderful country full of beautiful places in terms of nature. 

We also have a very techy country. Several projects that have started here have become unicorns, including PetCube and Preply. We have an entrepreneurial spirit and a desire for freedom. 

Khrystyna: We’re very brave people, and this place gives me the opportunity to be myself, develop, and feel happy. Because of the war, people often ask whether we’re still living in Ukraine. Yes, we are, and we are never going to leave.

Anna: We have roots here, and this is our home!

Khrystyna - In Ukraine, we have 400,000 people working in the tech industry. I think we’re very underestimated in this space.
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