I came to the tech industry accidentally.
Almost two decades ago, not long after completing a Bachelor’s degree in Russian language and literature at the Sorbonne in Paris, I enrolled at the IEP Paris, better known as Sciences Po, which turned out to be a gateway to a new world. In addition to an immersion in the humanities, it exposed me to sociology, political science, macro- and microeconomics, and so many other things. It was in many ways a map of the world.
Where did that map lead me? In an unexpected direction toward technology startups—building the “Amazon of Russia” with Ozon.ru, then to an online travel agency and restaurant reservation system with Booking.com, Kayak, and OpenTable, and from there to Compass, a pioneering real estate technology platform. Over the years, some skeptics in the tech world–and elsewhere–have argued that the only “practical” use for my humanities background was as preparation for a lifetime of late night existential conversations in Parisian cafés. I emphatically disagree. If 15 years in tech has taught me anything, it’s this: The more a company relies on tech, the more it needs people who are curious about the world around them. People who understand how others will feel and react to a set of circumstances.