Buffalo Boss Babe: Olga Nelioubov
Today’s Buffalo Boss Babe is Olga Nelioubov, Software Engineer at Liazon and Co-Chapter Leader for Girl Develop It Buffalo. We talked to Olga about all things STEM, Krav Maga and ferrets. Read below for more about this Buffalo Boss Babe!
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 think what got me into STEM in the first place was the fact that I was told it was not a women's field and that I should become a model or a dancer instead. Although those are still sound careers, I think my drive to prove people wrong helped fuel this fire. That was definitely not the only reason, of course! You could say my exposure to STEM started right from birth. I actually came from a small town in Russia that was specifically founded for Physics (it even had its own collider!); I, then, got to move to France for a year because my father was working at CERN at the time (he was a software engineer at a large research facility in Geneva, Switzerland). Unfortunately, I was too young to really appreciate what kind of environment I was living in at the time, but this experience, and my father's career, definitely helped inspire my own path later on down the road.
Fast forward many years - I finally got the courage to go to school for Physics (however, Computer Science was also one of my close interests) - I really loved Space and wanted to get into Astrophysics or Cosmology. Throughout college, I struggled with many personal issues outside of school which made school itself a very difficult process; however, those struggles were very humbling and necessary for my character development and turning me into the person I am today. At the time, I also decided that the life of a Physicist was not for me, despite actually loving the subject itself. I decided to switch my degree to Computational Physics in hopes of being able to get into a Computer Science field in the future. As I was finishing up college, I wanted to get my foot in the door to a tech field so I went to my local Best Buy and got a job at the Geek Squad counter. After working there for several months, I switched into a Help Desk role at a local cloud company - there, I continued to learn and strive for more challenging roles and started to build relationships with others in the Buffalo tech community. After three months, I was promoted to a more technical position that exposed me to different types of server environments and architectures (I even used to rack physical servers in heels - that was an achievement all on its own :) ). At that point, I started scripting out many of my tasks and started building and supporting even more environments - I was loving it. I've become so familiar with some of our clients that they began coming to me to learn how to do some of their own tasks! I was learning so much and building an even-larger network of tech professionals all while still finishing up my degree (I switched to part time at that point due to schedule conflicts).
After some time, I wanted to expand into the software side of things. I had finally graduated and, shortly after, I found Girl Develop It. Through this organization, I was able to get the support and knowledge that I needed to finally pursue the thing that I wanted to do - software development. After getting some proper encouragement, I finally took the plunge and applied for the position. I was very collected at my interview and was happy to receive a job offer from a company that I now am proud to say that I work for. Not only did I get a good job, I got a GREAT job in a supportive, inclusive, and challenging environment. Now, my goal is to give back to the people who helped me make this happen as well as to inspire other women to pursue this ever-evolving, challenging, and exciting field.
What does being a Buffalo Boss Babe mean to you?
To me, it represents a growth mindset and desire to empower others to explore beyond what they think they're capable of. It means achieving great things through hard work, perseverance, and humility.
Have you experienced any challenges from being in a STEM career? If so, what did you learn from them?
For me, some of the challenges were general communication differences between men and women. In many cases, the cultural and environmental concepts between how men and women "should" be treated instilled in us as we were growing played a big role in this. Some people excluded or belittled me; others tried to be extra inclusive and forgiving, thus, making me feel like I got special treatment. It seemed difficult to figure out how to truly be equal, although I was definitely still fortunate enough to meet people who did treat me truly on the same level.
Who are your favorite people to follow?
At the moment, my Instagram feed is full of photographers I admire and get inspiration from (right now, I'm really loving Gemmy Woud-Binnendijk's [@gemmy.woudbinnendijk] almost painted-like portrait work) while my Twitter feed is strictly STEM-related.
What are your favorite things to do in the area (Buffalo and greater WNY)?
Where do I start? I love Buffalo so much, it's hard to pick favorites! I love the surrounding parks, the festivals, the people. I tend to frequent lots of coffee shops (Daily Planet being my favorite, although it's been a while since I've been there) - something about the smell of coffee just puts me at ease and gets my gears turning. I love hosting events around Buffalo for Girl Develop It - it allows me to explore more of this city and its various suburbs while surrounding myself with other amazing and like-minded women. I love going out on photo walks, shooting local events, and collaborating with friends on different photography projects. I also love taking Krav Maga at The Training Edge multiple times per week - it allows me to take out some stress while raising my confidence levels and self-defense skills in a welcoming and respectful environment.
Tell me about your favorite collaborations or a dream collaboration?
My dream collaboration would involve something that brings all of my favorite activities together. I already do quite a bit of photography for Girl Develop It (on top of normal Chapter Leader duties - which is why I'm hardly in any of the pictures), but I think it would be amazing to also collaborate with my Krav Maga dojo (The Training Edge) and teach more women of Buffalo how to defend themselves. TTE already has free quarterly women's self-defense seminars on site; however, I think it would be amazing to include them, GDI, and other Buffalo organizations in a large-scale women's empowerment event that includes advocating and helping further STEM careers (or careers in general) as well as allowing women to physically and mentally feel safer in the world.
If you could have coffee with anyone in the world who would it be?
Viktor Frankl - His experiences at the concentration camps taught humanity that there can still be meaning and fulfillment in even the harshest of circumstances. Marcus Aurelius - this Roman emperor was largely involved in shedding light into ancient Stoicism (a philosophy that is highly followed to this day) through personal reflections which were later turned into a book called <<Meditations>>. I'm definitely not a perfect Stoic, but the principles from this philosophy help guide me when facing day-to-day conflicts.
What are your hopes, dreams, goals? Big or Small.
I would like to continue to explore new ways to assist women with entering meaningful careers in various tech fields while also focusing on furthering my own career in software development. Simultaneously, I'm excited to start my own photography business and continue to advance in Krav Maga. Additionally, I would absolutely love to travel to New Zealand someday.
Tell us about your family (2 Legged, 4 Legged)?
My immediate family lives in Florida while the rest of my family lives back in Russia; I'm just here with my three ferrets and my significant other. Furthermore, I've gotten to know some wonderful people through my various activities here in Buffalo that have become like an extended family to me now.
Feel Good Five :)
Food: Yes. (I love food, please don't make me choose!)
Super Power: Unlimited Empathy
Season of the year: Fall
Favorite thing about Buffalo: Definitely the people.
Thank you Olga for pushing through in the STEM field and helping other women in Buffalo do so as well! You can follow Olga, her photography, and ferrets on Instagram @cindysummerkathy
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