Introduce yourself to our audience. Tell us who you are and what you are currently focused on.
I am the CEO and co-founder of Denver-based Pipeline, a SaaS company that leverages artificial intelligence to increase financial performance of companies through closing the gender equity gap. As the daughter and sister of refugees and the daughter of an immigrant, I am driven by a passion to eradicate economic inequality and I champion the rights of refugees, women, and children through a number of local and global organizations.
I am currently focused on Pipeline and ensuring it is a massive success. Not only for us, but for the broader economic impact because we can materially improve the lives of women and men, girls and boys through closing the gender equity gap. The gender equity gap not only impacts women and girls, it has broader societal impacts. For instance, women are the sole or primary breadwinner in 40% of households in the U.S. with children under the age 18 and children living in households led by single mothers are more likely to live in poverty. As well, 48% of working fathers would like to stay home with their children. When we close the gender equity gap, we improve the economic pie for all.
How would you define your professional mission?
To close the gender equity gap, once and for all.
What qualities does it take for someone to be successful in your line of work?
Tenacity, grit, risk taking and a fantastic mindset. Being an entrepreneur is an adventure like no other - the twists and turns and impact of them are far greater than the corporate world. What I’ve found is that first and foremost, my mindset is paramount. And, that my brain is not wired to make me happy - it’s wired to keep me safe - so resetting it on a daily basis is critically important to the success of Pipeline. Tenacity, grit and risk taking are all connected. The ability to “jump and the ledge will appear” is a key to being a successful entrepreneur because you need to move fast and make decisions with incomplete information. I’ve never quite experienced the level of grit and tenacity as I have being an entrepreneur.
What is one of your most memorable career accomplishments?
I have had some incredible opportunities in my career including meeting President Clinton and President Mikhail Gorbachev, and attending the 1993 Budget Signing Ceremony at the White House. Given my family’s history of escaping a communist country, meeting President Gorbachev was a pivotal moment in my career - it showed me the impact that the courage of one person can have and how that courage can have a tremendous ripple effect in the lives of many people.
However, my two most memorable career accomplishments are attaining my MBA and launching Pipeline. Why? Because both have had a remarkable impact on my children - they have seen that if you believe in yourself with courage and tenacity, anything is possible.
What project have you worked on that you’re most proud of? Why?
Pipeline. We married together company economics with closing the gender equity gap. So now, not only is gender equity the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do - now companies can do good and make money. And, we’ve flipped the gender equity narrative on its head through focusing on the massive economic opportunity of gender equity.
We’d love to hear more about your career path. What led you to where you are today?
My career path was both linear and nonlinear. It was linear in the sense that the majority of my career path was within the human capital space (primarily in sales operations). It was nonlinear because I would happily take on assignments other folks would be less likely to take on. Through the consistent experience of, “jumping and the ledge will appear”, I gained a great deal of experience such as programming and data science, that I wouldn’t have gained otherwise. I also became the go to person to either launch a new initiative or get an at-risk project back on track. The ability to take risks catapulted my career forward in a remarkable way and built my confidence, like a muscle, over time.
What legacy do you hope to leave through your work?
To ensure that the women and girls coming up behind me have more opportunity that I did - to ensure that the scars stop with me. We have a responsibility to take our pain and transform it into power - and leave the world a better place for folks coming up behind us. Let’s get to work.
Who are your role models?
Michelle Obama is at the top of the list. Her tenacity and fortitude are remarkable and her ability to be warm and powerful is unparalleled. Brene Brown is another role model - Pipeline wouldn’t exist without Daring Greatly and learning vulnerability and authenticity. Tony Robbins for his personal journey and commitment to giving back. Finally, Marc Benioff for his willingness to stand out front as a CEO on social issues.
What is your morning ritual?
I get up early - between 4 and 4:30. I pray and meditate and then I exercise - all are required to get my mindset primed for the day. Then I get ready and spend some time with my family before everyone heads out for the day. Often my prayer and meditation includes readings from inspirational books such as Gabby Bernstein’s, “The Universe Has Your Back” and Jen Sincero’s, “You Are A Badass” and often the meditation is one from Deepak Chopra and Oprah’s meditations.
What would you say your personal superpower is?
Well, that’s what my co-founder calls the “Katica Magic.” My superpower is connecting with people in an authentic and meaningful manner. I have the ability to really understand people, see them and focus our mutual connection with courage. I also focus more on how I can help them rather than how they can help me. That focus and connection has garnered me remarkable opportunities in my career - including being able to ring the opening bell on the New York Stock Exchange.
What is the best career advice you ever received?
There are three pieces of advice. Two came from my parents - as the daughter of an immigrant and a refugee, our focus was always on the immense gratitude for the opportunity we were afforded to live in the U.S. Because of our family history, my parents taught me to always do my best and never give up. The last piece of advice was to invest in myself. I have taken that to heart - even negotiating a signing bonus to be increased because it would be spent on professional development instead of paid directly to me. Investing in myself has paid exceptional dividends.
Tell us about your favorite Ellevate Network memory or success story. Why are you a member?
My favorite Ellevate Network memory is recording my Ellevate podcast with Marciella Herrera. I was traveling to New York to meet with investors and Maricella happened to have a slot open (we’d been attempting to sync schedules). We had such a fun time recording the podcast and sharing stories about gender equity, economics and managing professional careers. Plus, it was the first time I saw the very cool Ellevate offices.