Key to Success: Embracing Challenges Head-on

Olga Melnyk, Director of Fabrix Cloud at Hutchinson Networks, talks about her journey from Ukraine to leading a business unit in a Scottish technology company, including her advice to women considering entering the technology industry and building a Cloud Solutions team.

 

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.

 

“Appreciate 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 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

 

“Collaboration is very important to us so I’m always trying to make sure we work closely together because ultimately we have the same goals: deliver excellent customer service and helping grow the business”.

 

What does a typical day involve for you?

Every morning I have a short meeting with my team to discuss the progress made the day before, the things planned for today and any issues that they may need help with. I then work with other teams at Hutchinson Networks to understand projects in progress, sales so that I can help close in, delivery we need to complete – any support enquiries, any help other teams require from Fabrix, and anything they can help us with.

 

“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.”

 

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

When I started, our office was on a boat in the Shore area in Edinburgh. I struggled to find it when I came for my interview with the CEO Paul Hutchinson, and I was quite nervous because I hate being late but everything worked well at the end. 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.

As a team, we have also 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.

READ MORE: Building a Global Team – Looking Beyond Technical Skills

 

“Creating something new, achieving goals, are huge motivators for me.”

 

What motivates you as a person?

I always say my job is to make things happen. I like seeing things change. New projects built, new clients, which grows the business and leads to new team members joining the company.

 

“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.”

 

Did you always want to work in technology?

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 becoming the centre of everything that’s happening around us. I wanted to be part of this change.

 

What do you like to do in your downtime?

I like reading a lot. I usually read about 4 different books to make sure I’ve always got one that matches my mood. I like fiction, biographies of successful people, product management books, and lately, I’ve been interested in Japan so I’m currently reading two books about Japan. I don’t watch TV, but I like to punish myself regularly by watching football! I also love cinema.

 

“We are the type of company that likes to embrace change, take risks, fail fast and move on.”

 

How do you see Hutchinson Networks changing over the next five or 10 years?

We’ve always been very ambitious and always tried to remain at the forefront of new technologies, looking for new ways we can innovate, so we’ve always been moving fast as a company.

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.


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What are the future plans for Fabrix Cloud?

We have very high expectations for this year and beyond. In the past 18 months alone, we’ve launched four new Fabrix projects and we’re currently working on our fifth one. It’s called Fabrix Secure Analytics and offers excellent value to clients who have a lot of legacy applications or those who are potentially going through the data centre migration or those who 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.

 

“I believe that in product development it’s really important to have everyone in the same room as much as possible and bounce ideas off each other.”

 

How have you created an agile team for Fabrix Cloud?

It’s very important for me to make sure that people work well together and that there is a cultural fit in the team. I take a lot of time when hiring people for my team and always think about people I already have, to try to ensure everyone works well together. Following their induction, it amazes me how quickly new staff adapt to the role, embrace challenges and build relationships. So, I’m very proud of my team. I think we have a very good relationship, we communicate constantly.

We build things no-one has ever built before. We know we will fail sometimes, that things don’t always work as planned, but that’s all part of the journey. By collaborating as a team on a day-to-day basis we’re able to embrace what can be perceived as “negative experiences” because we know this is the only way to get to where we need to get. Everyone in my team shares this philosophy. We are all very clear about what we want to achieve for each product and when we want to achieve it.

 

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

 

How can the tech industry be more inclusive for women?

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.

 

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

 

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

I would say go for it. The time of safe bets and comfort zones has passed. In this life, we need to be prepared for uncertainty, surprises and challenges. The way we respond to those things is what makes us who we are. So, I would suggest don’t over-think, start somewhere right here, right now, and you will feel positive, productive and confident in your career a lot sooner.

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. Attending events and collaborating with your peers is equally 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 programmes. I think we’re seeing a lot of positive change in this area, but there is a lot more to be done.

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The time of safe bets and comfort zones has passed. In this life we need to be prepared for uncertainty, surprises and challenges.

Olga Melnyk
Business Challenges by Olga Melnyk

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