Buffalo Boss Babe: Lena Levine
Today’s Buffalo Boss Babe is Lena Levine! She is a major advocate for women in tech careers (or aspiring to be) here in Buffalo. She has started the Girl Develop It Buffalo Chapter and runs her own website development company, Lena Levine Studio. Read below to learn about her path to success in the STEM world.
What made you start or brought you to where you are today? Tell us your story and what makes you a Buffalo Boss Babe.
I’ve always been a techie kid. I started coding when I was 12 in Microsoft Basic (heyo!). Fast forward to 2009 I graduated with Masters in Computer Science and moved to the US from Russia. Since then Buffalo has been my home.
When I moved to the US I had no idea where this journey will take me, and I definitely didn’t expect that I’ll start my own web design studio. One thing I was sure of is that I was passionate about the technology and growing professionally, and I wanted to find my crowd. I started going to the local tech meet ups but being the only woman in the room has been often intimidating. I wanted to connect with other likeminded women but didn’t know where to find them. When I came across non-profit called Girl Develop It, I knew it was a great fit and I decided to open a chapter in Buffalo. Was it a big scary step - hell yeah it was! Was it worth it? - it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! Over the last 5 years Buffalo chapter has grown to almost 900 members and four chapter leaders (who are all kick-ass Boss Babes btw), we hosted hundreds of events including coding classes, hackathons, networking events, and lightning talks.
Four years ago I have taken another leap of faith and went from a full-time freelancer to a web design studio owner. We are now a team of 10 with offices in the US and Russia. As a team we’re always looking for the way to expand our expertise and stay on the cutting edge of technology. For example, we recently added blockchain and AR/VR to our list of technologies.
Have you experienced any challenges from being in a STEM career? If so, what did you learn from them?
Sometimes it feels lonely to be a woman in STEM. I have’t had friends who were interested in coding till I was 25. I’m grateful for the organizations like Girl Develop It that helped to create communities of likeminded women where you can meet new friends, have your questions answered and learn from others’ experience. It’s especially important for developers that are still learning the ropes as it can be intimidating to ask questions. At Girl Develop It, we say “There are no stupid questions” and we encourage our members to ask for help, after all we’ve all started from the ground zero.
What does being a Buffalo Boss Babe mean to you?
For me it means more that just professional achievements. It means having persistence and tenacity to overcome day to day challenges, offer a helping hand to those who need it the most, and never stop learning.
Who are your favorite people to follow?
Chris Do on Twitter @theChrisDo @theFutur - goldmine of advice for agency owners Ramit Sethi Titter & Instagram @ramit - business, finance and psychology
What are your favorite things to do in the area (Buffalo and greater WNY)?
I love fall so I’ve been taking an opportunity to explore great outdoors as the leaves are changing colors. I also picked up skiing a few years ago and now winter is not as dreadful :)
Tell me about your favorite collaborations or a dream collaboration?
My favorite collaboration was an all-women hackathon that Girl Develop It, Buffalo organized in partnership with local non-profits, minority and women owned businesses. During the event teams of designers, developers and marketing specialists put together websites for businesses that needed them. It was a win-win collaboration and it was amazing to see the great work that teams have come up with in just 12 hours.
If you could have coffee with anyone in the world who would it be?
Frank Lloyd Write and Steve Jobs - I'm really amazed by there almost obsessive attention to the details and drive for perfectionism. They both were innovators in their field and I admire their craft.
What are your hopes, dreams, goals? Big or Small.
My goals is to continue growing the studio and providing an outstanding service to our clients, continue pushing ourselves creatively and grow as a team. Women in tech community is also one of my priorities and I work hard on brining more coding classes and tech events to Buffalo.
Tell us about your family?
All my family is back in Russia. It's just me and my husband here in Buffalo. But I was lucky to meet many amazing friends who I can call my new family.
Feel Good Five :)
Food: Any Asian food (Top three: Sushi, Ramen, Pad Thai)
Super Power: Skipping sleep
Animal: Cats (small and big)
Season of the year: Fall
Favorite thing about Buffalo: People, beautiful architecture, and parks
Thank you, Lena, for your devotion to the women developer community here in Buffalo. You can follow Lena on Instagram: @lenalevinestudio, FaceBook: LenaLevineStudio, Twitter: LLevineStudio
You can check out Lena’s website design and development company at lenalevinestudio.com/
Until next time babes!
Buffalo Boss Babes is a woman run blog series featuring women in and around the city of Buffalo N.Y.
If you know someone doing amazing things for our community, past and present, young and old..... send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org
Be kind to everyone you meet.
Here's to strong women! May we know them. May we be them