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149. Leadership Decision-Making in Uncertain Times with Olena Petrosyuk

Decision-making is one of the most difficult jobs of a leader, especially in uncertain times.

In this episode, our guest, Olena Petrosyuk, shares her unique experiences, journey, and insights into the difficult decisions she's wrestled with throughout her career, in both the corporate world and her current role as COO at Klevu.

We discuss the constraints of decision-making, the importance of listening to one's intuition, the weight that each decision carries, particularly when other people's lives are at stake, and the essential aspect of having a defined North Star. Her story is fascinating and offers actionable guidance for making decisions as a leader in uncertain times.


About Olena:

Olena Petrosky headshot
Olena Petrosyuk

Olena is the Chief Operating Officer at Klevu, a platform specializing in search and discovery experiences for e-commerce. Starting her career in investment banking and consulting at firms like JP Morgan and Oliver Wyman, she found herself drawn to the tech world. After collaborating with Klevu on a value creation plan, she was inspired by the founding team's passion and mission, leading her to join the company. Starting as a growth hacker, she quickly rose through the ranks to become VP of Operations and eventually COO. Her journey reflects a commitment to innovation and a desire to see the tangible impact of her work.


While it's not perfect, we offer this transcription by Castmagic for those who prefer to read or who are hearing impaired.

Teri Schmidt [00:00:00]:

Welcome back. In today's episode, we explore the intricate world of decision making, especially in uncertain times. Our guest, Olena Petrosyuk, shares her unique experiences, journey, and insights into the difficult decisions she's wrestled with throughout her career In both the corporate world and her current role as the chief operating officer of Klaviyo, a platform specializing in search and discovery experiences For ecommerce, Olena started her career in investment banking and consulting at firms like JPMorgan and Oliver Wyman, and she found herself drawn to the tech world. She has a very exciting journey to share that involved several unique decisions, and I think you will learn a lot from our conversation. We discussed the constraints of decision making, the importance of listening to one's intuition, and the weight that each decision carries, particularly when other people's lives are at stake. We also discussed the essential aspect of having a defined North Star. Her story offers actionable guidance for making decisions as a leader in uncertain times. So let's get to it.

Teri Schmidt [00:01:10]:

I'm Teri Schmidt, your host and a leadership coach dedicated to seeing you grow. I believe that leadership is courageously using our talents to make a way for others to courageously use theirs. And this is the Strong Leaders Serve podcast. Welcome, Olena, To the Strong Leaders Serve podcast, I'm looking forward to our conversation today.

Olena Petrosyuk [00:01:48]:

Same here, and thank you so much for having me. I'm really excited to be here and chat a bit more.

Teri Schmidt [00:01:54]:

Before we get started, I do wanna acknowledge, I know that you're from Ukraine. You still have family there, have colleagues there. I just wanna hear how things are going, and acknowledge that it is a challenging situation.

Olena Petrosyuk [00:02:09]:

Yes. It is. And and and thank you so much. The only good thing that I think came out of the whole thing was the fact that we're able to see so many people supporting Ukrainians all over the world. Mhmm. Like, that is one thing that was just absolutely incredible. Right? Like, hearing and feeling people's support day to day, amazing from, I don't know, people offering to stay, and I've had this lovely Grandmother in Wales offering to buy me beer. I was like, I can take care of it, and she's like, no.

Olena Petrosyuk [00:02:40]:

You know? Let me buy you some beer. So, people have been amazing, but Yeah. I mean, it's been challenging. It's been challenging for me personally. I think it's been challenging for For all of us, it's been challenging for the whole nation. I'm just back, actually, 2 weeks back. I traveled there with Both of my kids, older one being 2.5, younger one being 5 months, and the way the road looks now is basically me Strapping my younger one to, my belly and then putting the older one in a stroller, having another stroller In my hand, having 2 bags, having my backpack, and then just kind of going by feet because obviously there are no flights and so on. And we had to go in because My family is not feeling great, and I just didn't want anything to happen and then haven't seen grandkids, think this is probably the hardest part.

Olena Petrosyuk [00:03:34]:

Right? Staying you you need to take a decision to either be there when there are air sirens, and it's really scary for kids and it's scary for you when people die day to day from rockets and explosions to, you know, going away and building your life somewhere else where you didn't Plan 2 and then staying away from your aging parents and friends and the rest. But so, yeah, it's been challenging, but it's also been really inspiring to see How people come together and how they literally say, screw this. We're gonna live on, and we're gonna have weddings, and we're gonna have birthdays, and we're gonna be happy, And we're gonna fight for our freedom and not a not an easy situation, but appreciate you bringing up.

Teri Schmidt [00:04:15]:

It's Interesting to talk about day to day leadership things in the midst of that, and I assume it's, you know, interesting to go work day to day? But then as you talked about, you know, the resilience of Ukrainians to say, you know, we're not going to stop living our lives because of this.

Olena Petrosyuk [00:04:33]:

Actually, yeah, a lot of leadership lessons there. I think a lot of probably around strong leaders serving. I I've been inspired by people there when in really kind of literally life threatening situations, people take steps to Think about someone else around them too. Think about how they can help maybe more than ever. It's a really interesting point. I think kind of Maybe expecting that whenever something like this happens, people would be much more introspective and kind of focused on their own safety and instead Very often seen the opposite how, you know, people actually try to help others, how people continue to build businesses because someone else needs work, How people continue to invest and, again, just build because there are others people relying on them because they wanna make sure that, they have the money to support their loved ones, which is really amazing.

Teri Schmidt [00:05:28]:

Yeah. I don't know if there's anything that epitomizes the title of this podcast Better than those examples that you shared. So thank you. Thank you for sharing that. And, yeah, as I've said, you know, we're with you, and

Olena Petrosyuk [00:05:42]:

Thank you.

Teri Schmidt [00:05:42]:

If there if we can buy you a beer at any point too.

Olena Petrosyuk [00:05:46]:

Always. You know? You're always welcome. I'll take a beer anytime. So

Teri Schmidt [00:05:52]:

Well, excellent. Well, I'd love for you to tell us a little bit more about your story so that our audience can get to know you because you have a a fascinating journey. Tell us a little bit about who you are, how you lead in your life, and kind of the pivotal points of your journey that have gotten you to where you are today?

Olena Petrosyuk [00:06:10]:

Probably in a nutshell. I mean, as you already know, born and raised in Ukraine. I got really bored with school around the time that I was 16, so kinda just decided to go to uni, early. I moved to Netherlands where I did my bachelor's And my, master's degree, I was really interested in strategy. I was really interested in finance. I was really interested in everything that Relates to management. So I've, started my work in, mergers and acquisitions in investment banking, work a little bit with Phillips on the corporate side and Lazard, and then moved to London, to work at JPMorgan. Figured out that I love the work.

Olena Petrosyuk [00:06:49]:

Love the excitement of it. I hated the lifestyle. You're you know, probably everyone is aware of how investment banking lifestyle goes. I gained loads of weight. When my mom saw me, she was she broke in tears, and she was like, oh my god. What did they do to you? And, obviously, you know, got very little sleep. I think probably the first pivotal point was around the time when I decided that That's not necessarily a great fit. So it was difficult to reconcile this amazing career that I already had in my head as a really successful investment banker that I could see, you know, materializing, you know, put a stop and say, okay.

Olena Petrosyuk [00:07:25]:

I I think I wanna try out Another path and then quit. But I'll try consulting. Love the lifestyle. It was great. It was a lot of fly. It was great team. He did the work. It was pretty I used to do, like, a lot a lot of, like, stress testing for European banks and credit models and Things that didn't have a lot of human interaction, maybe as much as I'd like.

Olena Petrosyuk [00:07:49]:

So I was thinking about my next step, and So at the time, I I met this guy who was also an investment banker, back in Ukraine, and he said, oh, you know what? I'm like, I'm quitting it's just random party. And he said, I'm quitting my job. I'm going to travel around the world, and I thought, wow. That's such a cool idea. I love traveling and, you know, maybe that's something I should do. So I said, you know, I'll join. And he said, well, you're 1 crazy lady. I said, yeah.

Olena Petrosyuk [00:08:18]:

Sure. You know, Feel free. And I don't think you never thought that I actually joined, but I did. And we met a couple of months later in Iran no last, which caused endless years to my parents knowing that I was there backpacking for a month. And we've, you No. We've we've traveled for another two and a half years, actually a little bit more. We ran out of money really fast. So probably 6 months in, Even though we've really tried to save, we're like, okay.

Olena Petrosyuk [00:08:47]:

No one left, so what do we do? And we had a choice either to come back, Which I think a lot of people at the time are like, you're gonna be back in, like, 6 months or change something, and that's when we started Our company is now WaveUp, which I think today is probably, like, the leading venture consulting firm. And the vision was always try to do the same things that we've done In investment banking, but for smaller companies. So start ups, high growth companies, help them figure out growth, help them prep for fundraising, help them tell their story, And that's what we've done for probably, like, 5 years or 6 years. And in one of those assignments, I've, I was doing work for a really Interesting company. It's, an AI ecommerce solution named Klevu. Helped them to prep for their fundraising round and then You need to put together together with the team, like, a value creation plan on how they're gonna grow into the future. And then somehow, I still didn't know how it happened. The team was just great.

Olena Petrosyuk [00:09:46]:

Like, they were really amazing, wholesome people, love technology. And looking At the company, I thought it's really interesting. Like, I was never in the tech company. On the inside, it sounded interesting. Again, I don't even know how, but somehow they persuaded me to go and start, helping them out first as a growth hacker and then As VP of operations, and then today, I'm a COO. I think it's been 3 or 4 years, and it's been a weird journey to that Particular position in that particular company. But, yeah, definitely an interesting one.

Teri Schmidt [00:10:20]:

Yeah. Wow. I wanna start with Kind of the juxtaposition of your first two positions, so the one where you loved the work but hated the lifestyle and then the vice versa on that where you Didn't really like the work, but enjoyed the lifestyle. If someone's listening and they're in one of those positions, What would be your advice to them? Do you feel that one aspect is more important to love, or is it the fact that you really have to have both? What what do you think?

Olena Petrosyuk [00:10:51]:

It's an interesting one. I think it probably just depends on your priorities. And to me, it was about, I think the level of comfort and just being, you know, confident, this is your path. And I I really understand that when you're very young, it's difficult to have that, Right. This is what I wanna do. But I think the reason that is is because you're not necessarily doing what's right. Because, you know, once I started traveling and then once I started working with Hydro as a tech company, I kinda felt I love it, and and this is it. And it took me a while to find it, but it's probably not being content When you don't feel it's right and thinking it's just gonna, you know, somehow work out, it's also Being I wouldn't say brave, but just not maybe sticking to that image in your head.

Olena Petrosyuk [00:11:39]:

Again, like, I've always for for years in school, I imagined I'm gonna have this credible corporate career, and I was good at it. I was good at the politicking around, and I was good at, Like, speaking out and, you know, rising through the ranks faster than everyone else. So for me, it was difficult to unmarry that And get some other idea, but, you know, it made me happy. So I'd probably say follow that internal level kind of peace and comfort and Mhmm. Try to listen to yourself versus other people. So quitting JPMorgan has been exceptionally difficult for me because, a, for 2 years in uni, that's what everyone talked about. Like, everyone wanted to get into Goldman Sachs or JPMorgan. And, like, once they got it, they were like, yes.

Olena Petrosyuk [00:12:24]:

You know, you got it. You're there. And when I wanted to quit, I I went to some of my colleagues and I asked them for their advice. Probably, like, one of the worst moments that I've had ever was a superior director that I was working with, and he said, look. You're making the biggest mistake of your life. In 10 years, you're gonna sit there in a really crappy apartment, and you're gonna think to the moment when your life went wrong, and you're gonna realize this was it. And this was the moment when it all went wrong, and you're never gonna be at the same point in your life again. And Hearing it from someone you won't don't admire but look up to, it can literally, like, break your heart.

Olena Petrosyuk [00:13:04]:

Right? I think I remember I was crying for a couple of days, and I was like, Wow. I mean, people are saying it's wrong to quit, but I feel that it's the thing is in investment banking, especially, and very often, right, when your job is your life, You're so overwhelmed by it really being your life, so you don't have necessarily that different outside opinion, and it was really, really difficult. But Going back to your original questions, how you decide, I think you need to listen to what's good for you, and you need to make sure that you don't have that kind of gut wrenching feel and anxiety associated with your work when you're unsure. And I've always had success with my guiding principle, and it's a Big cliche. I don't wanna regret particular things, but I think it's easy. I I also know now it's easy to come back to a previous choice. I think you can always get back Do a job in investment bank. Like, if you were able to get into JPMorgan, you're probably gonna be able to get into another, like, investment bank.

Olena Petrosyuk [00:14:00]:

And if you have moved to another country, you can equally move back or you can move to yet another country. But to me, it was always Exceptionally uncomfortable to have this. What would it be if? What if that path would be better? So for me, taking a path Would always be preferred to not taking 1, but, of course, everyone is different. So

Teri Schmidt [00:14:23]:

Right. No. But I'm I'm hearing definitely some some wise words That I think could help with any decision that people are making in their lives. You know? They making sure you are really reflecting on how you're feeling in your body, in your mind, in that particular position. And if there is that little voice that's telling you something's, you know, not quite right, having the courage to look at that. It may not be that you'd end up changing it, But doing that risk assessment of what is gonna happen.

Olena Petrosyuk [00:14:57]:

Exactly. At least doing at least doing their At least thinking about it and playing out the scenarios. And, you know, back at the time, I also worked with so many great people who said, Like, why do it now? You know, you can do it later, and we're gonna do it. And a lot of them ended up, you know, not doing those things because then life gets I mean, life is life. You get married or you get kids or priorities change, and you're not necessarily back to that exact point. So Reflecting, yes. At least reflecting and maybe realizing. And I think when I meet a lot of super young people who are just starting their career, I think there is this Predisposed notion of how your life's supposed to be because we're seeing it on TV, and we are hearing so much about it.

Olena Petrosyuk [00:15:42]:

So, know, you you go to uni and you get a job and you get married at some point, you have kids. And all of those things are very valid, but they don't need to happen in that order, and they don't need happen necessarily and, you know, they they need to happen they might happen in an entirely different way. So sometimes it's Just trying out different things and figuring out where you feel most comfortable and what you like doing, because I truly see Around me that if people are very passionate about what they do, they probably end up in a good place or at least they never end up regretting it, which I think is the most important thing. So, you know, even if Eventually, you're in a start up and it's a failure even if you are you know, you've moved somewhere and you lost a relationship or something. You As long as you are passionate about it, you end up in a place being like, this was a great step. So

Teri Schmidt [00:16:30]:

Exactly. And I'm also hearing one of The other pieces of wisdom that I heard when you were talking about it was the ability to kind of get outside of your bubble to get some feedback from people who aren't necessarily in the situation you're in or or like the gentleman I believe it was the gentleman that you're talking about.

Olena Petrosyuk [00:16:50]:

It wasn't him.

Teri Schmidt [00:16:52]:

You know, he's He's been in that world, and and that was the decision that he made to stay. And so how can you zoom out and get some advice, some opinions, some feedback from other people that you value their opinion, but they're not in the bubble that you are thinking about getting out of.

Olena Petrosyuk [00:17:14]:

I think that was probably my biggest mistake because every time I would take a decision, I would somehow try to make it Yeah. You can consult people within that bubble instead of trying to also see what is there on the other, you know, on the other side. And, With respectably, I think it didn't give me a full picture of you know, I kind of felt, okay. I have to quit, and it's gonna be better. But there wasn't no one who said I've done the same, And these are the pros and these are the cons and helped me to balance out the decision. So looking back, it was the same when I took a decision to quit my job and go traveling because then I mean, I I went to the friends who had a career, and they said, right. This is stupid. You can do that later on.

Olena Petrosyuk [00:17:54]:

But right now, it's too early. And then I went to my parents, and then my mom was just crying. And she's like, my daughter is gonna be homeless, and what I'm gonna tell My friends, you know, you had such a great career. Oh, it's all gone. No. No. No. So I think it's important to take a step, and look outside of your bubble.

Olena Petrosyuk [00:18:10]:

And even more so, I've learned that it's important to do the same when it comes to your work and when it comes to business and when it comes to leadership because I don't think we realize how biased our decisions are. Bias not even necessarily by such huge categories as, you know, race and gender, but just by our own experiences, By our own choices that, you know, we lived in life, if someone were to come to me with similar questions that I was saying, I would always be like, right, Don't regret it and, you know, try to do it. And that's not necessarily correct either. That's biased by my experience because things have worked out. So I think it's good. You always need to find that kind of devil and advocate and to listen to both sides and then truly take the decision that's right for you. And maybe A little trick that I learned as well along the time, take it, what's right for you, and then think about it for 24 hours. And then reassess again because just being hungry or tired or having slept in a while obviously affects those decisions a lot.

Olena Petrosyuk [00:19:18]:

So, Yeah. I think it's all about the balance and kind of just being in a really good confident place when you take that decision.

Teri Schmidt [00:19:26]:

Yeah. I love the 24 hour wait because, you know, maybe you just had a particularly bad meeting at your job that you're Wanting to leave anyway, and and that is the trigger point when if you take that time, maybe you're able to get Less biased feedback from people, you're able to perhaps look at the the pros and cons, of the decision. But I think It comes down to also what you said about, you know, you have to, at some point, just act, and that acting can look different. That acting may be leaving to go backpack through Europe, or, that it it may be Staying in your role and and talking to your leader about the type of work that you would love to have the opportunity to get involved with if it does present So in some way, taking reflecting on what you're feeling and finding a path that works for you to Take some action and just try some things out.

Olena Petrosyuk [00:20:28]:

Yeah. And sometimes it works in a really surprising way. So it's not always that you discover In new past, sometimes you go back to the old past. So my husband for years has been extremely unhappy with his own work. And he was like, I need to quit, and I wanna do this, and I wanna do this, but I can't because there are all these obligations. And at some point, we were just like, look. Just do it. Just do it and and and, you know, go and and do whatever else you'd like to do.

Olena Petrosyuk [00:20:54]:

And he's like, you know, I wanna write a book, and I wanna do this. I mean, just try to do it. So He quit and he went on and he spent, like, 5 months, and then he's like, oh, I really don't like this. Like, I realize now that life was good. I liked it, but I was procrastinating because I always had this idea Of the grass is green on the other side, and then he's tried and and then he went back. And he was became so much more successful In that role where the point in time when he realized it's what he's good at and what he likes doing, he just, like, flourish. He started taking actions and decisions. He started driving business forward.

Olena Petrosyuk [00:21:38]:

Everything started growing so much because finally now he was comfortable. He he didn't have that bell being okay. Right. What's out there? And it was great. So, you know, it can work out in very different ways, but I think Trying that out and taking and taking the step, always leads to some interesting discoveries.

Teri Schmidt [00:21:58]:

Yeah. That what what a great juxtaposition To your story

Olena Petrosyuk [00:22:01]:

as well. Exactly. Yeah. Very different.

Teri Schmidt [00:22:04]:

Yeah. Which is, brings us back to your point of you need to get perspectives from different people and not just go with the n of 1 or the case study of yourself to make those decisions. Let's get into your role right now. You know, as chief operating officer, I'm sure you have to make a ton of decisions, in our world, which, You know, people call volatile and uncertain. How do you make decisions in that role? Does it is it similar to what we were Talking about in terms of how you make decisions in your personal life or what are some of the practices that may differ from how you make those personal decisions.

Olena Petrosyuk [00:22:45]:

It's an excellent question, and I think it's it's very similar, in many ways. I think it's harder. So for a lot of people, myself that it's easier to take a decision when it comes to yourself because you know all the risks and you're you know, it just involves you. When you're in a Management role, it means you're taking decisions that are affecting other people's lives. Mhmm. And for me, it's one thing that always has been really difficult. Right? Because You know and sometimes don't know what's happening in other people's lives. You know, they're dependent on this job.

Olena Petrosyuk [00:23:18]:

They're dependent on you. The decisions you take every day on Where you take the company on, where you take their careers, it's just really difficult because it's so so important and because That's not the point at which you can be, right. You know, I've tried. Right. Right. It needs to be it needs to be very, very different. And I think what I have in common with my personal decision making is still taking different opinions, and talking to different people Who've been in this situation and just understanding all the possible sides before taking a decision. I have a personal rule of Trying never to be rushed to conclusions, which I think I've learned in this particular role.

Olena Petrosyuk [00:24:00]:

There is never, I guess, a decision that is Urgent enough that you need to take it in the next, like, 12 hours. Like, you can take your time to collect evidence, to think, and to make sure That you're making the best decision for the business and for individuals in place. But, again, for that to happen, I think you need some time to collect your thoughts. You need some time to put, you know, the evidence down, not be influenced by bias, that you might have, and and and just Really think about it carefully because it affects other people livelihoods. So from that perspective, similar, but somewhat different. And definitely,

Teri Schmidt [00:24:39]:


Olena Petrosyuk [00:24:39]:

When it comes to it, I think much, much more responsibility Mhmm. And many more factors that you need to consider.

Teri Schmidt [00:24:46]:

I'd love to hear if you have a story of a difficult decision you've had to make in your business and kind of walk us through what the situation was, and how you use some of those practices that you were talking about.

Olena Petrosyuk [00:25:00]:

Every day. Difficult decisions Difficult decisions every day. Yeah. Which one can we talk about? But probably the one that everyone can relate to because, well, it's a it's a tough Economic environment at the moment. Right? So I think a lot of people are are going through decisions around Letting people go. Personally, that's the one that always has been the absolutely hardest for me, regardless of the reasons. It almost works the opposite to my personal experience when I'm kind of you know, let's let's try every path and let's just take the risk. So you'd think, you know, let's just I just let's say let the person go.

Olena Petrosyuk [00:25:39]:

But in this particular case, I think I've almost made a mistake quite often on, Let's try to work it out. Let's try to find what else might work. Let's try to find a path. Let's have a conversation. Let's have another conversation. And I've had to make a couple of difficult choices when we, as the team, need to let people go because it's not necessarily The best fit, because at this point, you know, the role is not needed. I think those are some of the decisions that again, because It's the most profound impact on someone else's life, on someone else's career, is where you really need to Look down at the facts, which is what we've always done, and then consider all the different sides. Definitely, I think have a conversation before if you're able to to make sure that the person is prepared to make sure that at least you're trying to align around what's not working, and that's not always feasible.

Olena Petrosyuk [00:26:38]:

But if feasible, you know, go through that stage. But most importantly, and I think something that I've learned in this process is you don't wanna take the decision too fast, but equally you don't wanna keep making their decisions for too long. So Mhmm. Your indecisioness is not really a kindness as such. I think it prolongs that situation both for the company and for individuals in question. While they might have been out there looking for a better job, they might have been out there looking for a better fit, And you kind of just keeping it going back and forth and not being able to take that decision because you're like, it's a difficult decision. Doesn't help everyone. So Those are probably, again, some of the most difficult decisions, that I've made.

Olena Petrosyuk [00:27:20]:

And I think I've just learned that sometimes you need to be more decisive with them In having those conversations early on, these things are not magically gonna resolve themselves, and in making those calls as a leader Because they need to be made for the sake of the company and for the sake of of the people who work there as well.

Teri Schmidt [00:27:41]:

No matter how difficult it is, I think the, The time boundary that you put on yourself for or that you allowed yourself for your personal decisions, I think, in a way, can become a time boundary for How long you will allow yourself to wait to make that decision, in this situation?

Olena Petrosyuk [00:28:00]:

That's that's a very good point because I think In the point when it comes to business, it can almost be selfish. Right? You just want don't wanna take a call, and you don't wanna be necessarily like the bad guy. So, Hence, you're avoiding making that decision. But I guess that's again, there is a reason that strong leaders are able to do that and are able to move decisively.

Teri Schmidt [00:28:22]:


Olena Petrosyuk [00:28:22]:

You need to have a vision, a north star around where you're moving. As you do in your personal life, it needs to be the same, I think, at work. And all things considered, your job as a leader, as a manager, is to Get the company to that north star whether it's your what you agreed on with the investors, with the owners of the business, or something you've determined yourself, You know, from those discussions.

Teri Schmidt [00:28:47]:

And I think if your employees also know what that north star is and know that they're responsible for helping you all as a company to reach it. That can make those difficult conversations sometimes a little bit easier too because if it's very clear that their actions are not supporting that ultimate goal, it It can make it a little bit easier, I would imagine.

Olena Petrosyuk [00:29:09]:

Absolutely. And I think as a company, it's probably something that we've done well. We've always tried to be very Transparent with what the goals are now, what the goals are tomorrow, what the decisions that we're making are, and where are we against those targets, So to say so, we have a quarterly session with the entire firm where we present the goals for the next quarter, and we also review our performance. And we transparently discuss our successes and where we have failed, what we wanna do better, and how exactly do we fare where. I think it helps People definitely to get aligned. It kind of gives you common language for the conversations That can then follow, around people's career, around where we're moving as the company, and definitely definitely extremely important to speak that same language.

Teri Schmidt [00:30:03]:

Agreed. And I'm just curious. Where where do you personally find the courage to, you know, accept That that is one of your responsibilities as a leader to have those difficult conversations, to make those difficult decisions. What gives you the courage to do that?

Olena Petrosyuk [00:30:20]:

That's an interesting question. I think it goes down to, for me, just having the energy level. So if I feel like I have the right energy level, I have the Strength, if that makes sense. Mhmm. And having that energy level is just being, you know, I guess, focused on getting sleep and getting sports, getting quality time Outside of work, remembering about those energy levels because then you kind of have at least the strengths. It's probably somehow just also reading a lot of, Books around heroes and all the other stuff when I was a child. So I always think that you owe it to the people you work with To be strong, you also owe it to deliver some of those tough messages face to face. Because if it's something you can't do, and that's okay, Then you shouldn't be in the role that you are.

Olena Petrosyuk [00:31:07]:

Mhmm. And one of the responsibilities of people who manage others is to have that strengths And have those tough conversations. And if it's something that, again, you don't feel you can do, I think either the role is wrong Or you need to work on those skills because you owe people that level of respect.

Teri Schmidt [00:31:27]:


Olena Petrosyuk [00:31:28]:

So it's not that I get the courage from somewhere. I just feel there is no other way that you can do it. You need to have those conversations, and you need to try to be As honest as possible or as honest as you are allowed to in this context because that's a a respectful thing to do for someone you work with.

Teri Schmidt [00:31:50]:

Yeah. It sounds like a a sense of personal responsibility, for others well well-being that you take on as that leader, is one thing that drives you.

Olena Petrosyuk [00:32:00]:

Putting it much more eloquent than I am. So, yes, I'd say that's that's right.

Teri Schmidt [00:32:05]:

Yeah. Since we touched on it a little bit, I wanna go to a question that we ask many of our guests recently Because I think it has to do with what we were just talking about with that sense of personal responsibility, and that is, what does strong leader serve mean to you and how you lead.

Olena Petrosyuk [00:32:22]:

I still often think of myself more as a manager than a leader, and I think there is a lot there is a lot to do and a lot To learn and a lot to work on until I would be confident in saying, you know, I'm a leader, even more to the point when I can say I'm a strong leader. I think something that I've seen uniformly in my current work and in other positions that I work with, and I've been blessed to work with amazing people. Like, It's it's great you're not asking me about bad stories because I don't have that many. I work with incredible leaders right now. I work with incredible leaders In the past, they always have one thing in common. I think once they get to that leadership position, they make it less about themselves and more about people around them. So they're very dedicated to Helping other people grow, helping their teammates grow. They're very focused on the customers and making sure that The customer see value.

Olena Petrosyuk [00:33:14]:

So to me, strong leaders serve just means you are at the point when you are probably fulfilled enough, When you put interest of others above you and create that, you know, exponential network value. And I think the better are the leaders that I see, the more time they also spend with their internal teams. The more time they spend on coaching The people they work with, on helping them grow and helping them get better. So to me, you know, strong leaders serve is about serving the Community above around you. It doesn't necessarily need to be your volunteer work. It doesn't necessarily need to be someone unrelated. It might be just someone who works Under you, it might be someone who work you work with day to day life. It might be your customer.

Olena Petrosyuk [00:34:00]:

It might be your partner. But it's about creating The value that's more than just, you know, your day to day.

Teri Schmidt [00:34:08]:

Well said. Well, in as you know, a lot of our leaders are, you know, first And 2nd time, people leaders, so they might be a supervisor, manager, director. Many of them are women, so I'd I'd love to hear what advice you would have for them, particularly, you know, with your diverse experience being in corporate and now in your current role, what advice, Looking back on your career, would you give to them or if you even think of what would you have said to yourself at that age that you think would be of benefit?

Olena Petrosyuk [00:34:42]:

Yeah. It's, again, it's it's a bit of a cliche, but I'd say believe in yourself. Right? So get those different opinions. Don't take Seniority for knowledge because we live in such environment where things change so fast, and all wisdoms are not necessarily what works today. So Don't take anyone's else advice or opinions stop you from, doing your own thing or doing what you feel is right. I think it's difficult for a lot of women that I work with, especially when you are in a very finance, for example, in a very corporate environment, there's a lot of Condescending opinions don't necessarily have to be mailed, but just from someone who's seen it around. Right? This is not how things are done, and this is a bit different. And there is a difference in Listening and learning and being steamrolled into doing something you don't necessarily want to do.

Olena Petrosyuk [00:35:31]:

So Mhmm. Find that strength and encourage To follow your own path, forge a community of great people around you. I wish I'd I'd learned that earlier I was really lucky to have been surrounded by amazing people around me who really Support you. I work with amazing women right now who I learn from every day, and I think it just helps massively. So, if you're able to find a community of your people who're gonna support you regardless because you're gonna go through a lot a lot of difficult choices, and Your crowd can definitely help. I wish I'd learned it a little bit earlier. And maybe it's not a learning, but more of an ask Once you get to the position of a manager, once you get to the position of a leader, just remember where you used to be when you're speaking to People who are younger than you. And I've seen a lot of women in the corporate context who kind of get there, and it feels almost like competition because you ask them for help, and they're like, wow.

Olena Petrosyuk [00:36:31]:

I've got there all on my own or you figure it out or I'm part of the men's club now, and I just don't see a point of that. I mean Mhmm. Be kind and remember that you were there, and it's almost an exceptional honor to be able to help someone else have an impact on their life when they feel like you've added value. So

Teri Schmidt [00:36:53]:

Yeah. Well well, thank you for that. And And thank you for sharing your story today because I think it's gonna inspire so many people. If people want to connect with you, where is the best place for them to go?

Olena Petrosyuk [00:37:05]:

So I'm the worst person who is replying to emails and social media, which is probably not a good quality to have when you are In a management position, but, reach out on LinkedIn. I'm occasionally there, and I'm always always happy to Connect and talk more, I guess, and give, very opinionated advice. It's that is, you know, based on my old bias, But, definitely happy to connect, talk about my experience, and if that helps anyone, that's, you know, amazing. So

Teri Schmidt [00:37:41]:

Well, excellent. Well, thank you again for taking your time and sharing your story and your wisdom with us today.

Olena Petrosyuk [00:37:47]:

Thank you so much, Teri, and it's been a pleasure. I really appreciate. It's been a great talk.

Teri Schmidt [00:37:57]:

Wasn't Olena's story fascinating? I hope you learned something from it that will help you to make the decisions that you as a leader have to make each and every day. Until next time, lead with this quote by Andy Stanley in mind. Leadership isn't about making all the decisions. It is about making sure the right decisions are made..


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