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Rodi Tountcheva

Rodi Tountcheva

Introduce yourself to our audience. Tell us who you are and what you are currently focused on.

Hello ladies! I am excited to have joined Ellevate. I am a passionate technical leader dedicated to transforming businesses via data and automation who is currently taking a much-needed sabbatical break. I am spending this time retooling, refreshing, and rebalancing. As a part of time break, I am very intentionally looking to join professional communities where I can give back through mentorship while also networking and growing.

How would you define your professional mission?

I want to use my experience and leadership skills to help the world a better place, as cliché as that sounds! I honestly am looking to give back through pro bono work at this point and, eventually, join full time an organization with a great mission and vision. My professional passion is around digital transformation through data and automation.

What qualities does it take for someone to be successful in your line of work?

When people talk about data and automation, initial thoughts go to tools, algorithms, statistics, etc. The truth is that the most challenging part around digital transformation is achieving the critical cross-functional mindset shift through motivating, coaching, and enabling using technological solutions. Organizations would be much stronger and impactful if they are full of data citizens that know how to analytically approach strategy setting, problem solving, process optimization, etc.

What is one of your most memorable career accomplishments?

I built myself up into the data and automation professional I am today. When I first entered this area, I was literally establishing the first analytics initiative at my large decentralized employer and had to do my own learning, strategy, tool selection, methodology creation, project management, and execution. It felt like I was drinking out of the fire hose but was super exciting at the same time!

What are some career challenges on your radar?

I am actively working to network and research good organizations where my expertise would be useful and appreciated (at this time on pro bono basis only, eventually full time.)

We’d love to hear more about your career path. What led you to where you are today?

I have a BS and MS in Computer Science and Engineering (Software Development.) I enjoyed my studies but wanted to have a job where I was integrated with business functions rather than coding away by myself day after day.

I was very fortunate to accept an offer from GE when I was 18 as a leadership development program intern which led to a total of 4 internships during my schooling followed by two competitive leadership development programs (IMLP and CAS.)

After my strong start at GE, I knew it was time for a "real" job and I decided to join an internal audit group that would allow me to learn more about compliance and governance which were strong areas of interest at that point in my career. I performed audit engagements at Crane Co for ~5 years in positions of increasing responsibilities and great diversity. At that point, I was asked to establish the audit analytics program from scratch which was a huge challenge but also a very exciting opportunity for me. I stayed with Crane Co for 3.5 more years establishing the analytics program by learning, planning, executing, and influencing in a very decentralized environment.

Next, I was approached and took the position of Senior Manager, Audit Analytics at Westrock which is a larger, also decentralized, company that also needed an analytics program established. I spent ~ 1.5 years at Westrock establishing methodology, building infrastructure, engaging with business partners, and enabling audits and continuous monitoring.

In Nov 2020 I decided that it was time for a personal and professional sabbatical and this is where you find me today!

What legacy do you hope to leave through your work?

I want to transform organizations that are working on good causes so they can be more impactful in everything they do.

What is it about your job that makes you feel it’s the right fit for you?

I am a dork at heart so data analytics is a natural fit. I am also very passionate about the need to transform what we do - now more than ever! It's an exciting time to be engaged and contributing to the digital evolution!

What does success look like to you?

I am very committed when I take on a project or mission. I work hard and what motivates me is appreciation and recognition. I feel energized by a sense of team belonging and a common mission.

What advice would you offer future leading ladies wishing to break into your industry?

If you already have experience in something (HR, marketing, finance, supply chain, etc.), look for digital transformation opportunities that can use this pre-existing expertise rather than trying to go for a super technical job that doesn't appreciate what you bring to the table other than the list of tools you recently learned how to use.

What is the best career advice you ever received?

Nobody cares what you know until they know you care. Literally, showing empathy and understanding while listening to the others' point of view will not only make them warm up to you but will give you the recipe to how to solve your stakeholders' problems.

What is one piece of advice you’d offer working moms?

Don't apologize for having kids but also ensure your team knows they've got your commitment. If you have a parenting partner, divide responsibilities to the extent possible - from getting groceries to random middle-of-the-day school pick-ups.

By having a good career remember you are already a healthy role model for your child! This is helping them grow into a well-adjusted human being so don't bend over backwards accommodating impossible scheduling because your kid wants to do swim team. Remember that you are setting an example for them to set boundaries and and please internalize that missing out on swim team will not scar them for life!

Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.