The key to success; embracing challenges head-on

In this interview, Olga Melnyk, Director of Fabrix Cloud at Hutchinson Networks, talks about her journey from the Ukraine to leading a business unit at one of Scotland’s leading technology companies. Her quest is to get more women to consider careers in the burgeoning technology industry to achieve gender balance and speed up cultural change in what remains a male dominated tech industry.

In your career what’s been the most challenging hurdle to overcome?

I was born in Ukraine and before coming to the UK I worked in finance for seven years – leaving the country and changing the career path at the same time was a major challenge in my life. However, I was prepared for the challenges that go along with the opportunities that come with moving to a new country. Uncertainty, failure, some disappointments along the way are to be expected but I think it’s very important to embrace challenge head-on and enjoy the uncertainty.

Positive things that happen to you and open yourself to new people and new information. After all things that are worth having, take time and persistence.

How did you get started in technology?

I joined Hutchinson Networks in 2013 as a Business Development Manager and then became a Product Manager, Head of Products and Services, and currently I am Director of Fabrix – our public cloud platform. My team helps clients go through digital transformation by developing Fabrix’s capabilities to match our clients’ needs. My responsibilities cover everything from managing a team of network engineers and developers to full cycle project management, sales enablement, go-to-market strategy implementation and service delivery.

What areas does your team look after?

My team works in three main areas:

Firstly, we help clients achieve their business goals by offering our infrastructure as-a-service, hosted voice, connectivity and application security products powered by Fabrix Cloud. So, my team would work closely with our clients to understand their requirements and to design often bespoke solutions that match their business needs. Secondly, we constantly innovate on the platform; making the design better, improving system administration, making client onboarding more streamlined and products easier for clients to use.  Finally, our developers have also been working on the Fabrix API, which gives our clients great flexibility in how they deploy and use our services.

You started with Hutchison Networks in 2013. How has Hutchison Networks changed since you started?

It’s amazing how far we’ve come with some of the leading and largest businesses in the UK now seeing us as their trusted advisor on their technology transformation journey.

When I started, our office was on a boat in the Shore area in Edinburgh. I struggled finding it when I came for my interview with the  CEO Paul Hutchinson, and I was quite nervous because I hate being late, but when I met Paul he was extremely personable and although we were small at the time he had a vision for the future. There was about 20 of us when I joined, now we have grown six-fold to 120 people today, so you can imagine the scale of change I’ve seen. The business has grown massively.

The team has learned so much in the past six years. We have grown confident leaders, built the best teams in this country, launched unique products to the market and delivered a lot of projects that seemed impossible to our competitors – and even our clients. However, there are no signs of slowing down so I expect to see great things for the business in the future as well.

Did you always want to work in technology?

I’ve always believed that the majority of the skills we use at work and in life are transferable, everything else you can learn if you are determined.

I didn’t always want to work in technology. I worked in finance, the energy sector and publishing, I used to monitor trends in the world around me and noticed that technology was central to everything that’s happening around us. I wanted to be part of this change.

How can the tech industry be more inclusive for women?

Education and empowerment from an early age is vitally important. Boys and girls should not have any limitations imposed on them.

I truly believe that anyone can achieve a lot more than they think they can, if not anything, if they really want it. I don’t think that the industry someone enters matters, it’s more an issue of personal belief.

What advice would you give a woman who’s considering joining the tech industry?

I think it’s very important to network, to get to know people and what they are doing and to exchange ideas.

I would say go for it. The way we respond to those things is what makes us who we are. So, I would suggest don’t over-think, even if it’s not your perfect career choice give new opportunities a go, doing so will make you feel positive, productive and confident in your career a lot sooner.

I think organisations and peer group clubs that support women in technology are very important. It’s all about your input as well as what you want to take from it. I’ve seen great things come out of a small coffee meeting. I’m all for communicating with your peers.

There is a lot going on in the UK around support for women in technology; through different organisations, awards and education programs. I think we’re seeing a lot of positive change in this area, but there is a lot more to be done. I think it’s very important to not stay in your office, and actually go out and talk to people out there, share your ideas and learn from them.

What are your immediate plans for Fabrix Cloud?

We have very high expectations for this year and beyond. In the past 18 months, we’ve launched four new Fabrix projects and we’re currently working on our fifth one, called Fabrix Secure Analytics.  for clients who have a lot of legacy applications or those who are potentially going through the data center migration or want to improve their application security. We’ve had very positive feedback on the proof-of-concept, giving us confidence that clients can derive real value from what we are offering.

The team is also working extremely hard on Fabrix API (Application Programming Interface), and we can’t wait for it to be released. I’m incredibly proud of the work the team is doing. It’s exciting and challenging building a product from the ground up, talking to a lot of organisations about their connectivity challenges which gives us the insight to create a platform they can rely on and is flexible enough to meet their needs now and in the future. From the beginning we said Fabrix will be an agile, ever-evolving platform, and that our development will never stop. We’re just aiming to continue at a pace to remain in front of our competition with the services that we launch.

Finally, where do you see Hutchison Networks in next five to 10 years?

The future is hard to predict, but I believe in the next five years we can expand in many ways, perhaps growing into new areas that we don’t even consider today. I can imagine new products, new roles in the business, new structures, new markets. But I don’t think we will lose the DNA we started with such as our ability to make decisions quickly, passion for what we do and an amazing team who are focused on our clients.