We Like It Diverse
Author: Ellen Thorén, Program Manager
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Today is a good day to talk about the Versasec team. They deserve recognition every day, but today is special because the United Nations General Assembly has declared May 21st as the “World Day of Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development” One thing is certain about our team: We are diverse!
In the typically male-dominated world of software engineering, we are proud to say nearly 20 percent of our team is comprised of women, including 17 percent of the leadership team. Our team speaks at least 18 languages, they represent at least 11 different nationalities, and between us all we have lived in at least 25 countries. Our offices span 8 nations and four continents. We represent cultures ranging from Middle Eastern, German and Spanish to Asian, French, American, Scandinavian and more. For us, all of that is cause for celebration.
Yesterday, we learned just how much our staff appreciates the Versasec business model where diversity is built into our company’s culture. In our all-team Diversity Day, we discussed whether and how diversity has impacted us as individuals. Virtually every team member said Versasec allows them to be themselves, learn about other cultures within the organization, and embrace our differences while working toward common goals as a united team.
We heard stories about people who previously worked for companies that felt generic, and how working at Versasec changed their perspectives. One of the most intriguing stories came from Kamel Elias, our newest employee, who heads up our Cairo location.
Before joining us, Kamel worked for the Egyptian government in computer security. “In Egypt there is a saying that the Egyptian culture will absorb every other culture,” he said. While he was growing up, Kamel’s father worked closely with tourists who lived in Cairo. Kamel was exposed to different people and cultures daily. He also participated in and volunteered with international youth groups that celebrated cultural diversity. That rich cultural background was a huge shift compared with his government job where things felt more insular. Joining Versasec, he says, was eye opening: “I have always been interested in different cultures, experiences, religions and backgrounds. At Versasec, we share the common bond of computer science and PKI that unites us,” while still embracing and celebrating our diversity.
Michael Samara, a business development engineer in our Austin, Texas office, sums up why he believes the Versasec teams work so well together: “We are the way we are because of the places where we have lived and visited.” Many of us have lived in multiple countries and most have traveled extensively and embraced the differences we saw from landscapes to cultures to people.
Perhaps no one knows that better than Carolina Martinez, our General Manager in Austin, Texas, whose life experiences and career have taken her all over the world and found her living in several different countries. “For me, working with a diverse team is just normal and feels right.” It’s simply the type of company she is drawn to. She once had a job where the team was nearly exclusively American, which forced her to rethink her approach to work and embrace the purely American mindset. She could certainly do that, but it left her feeling not completely authentic. “Now, at Versasec, work feels normal again.”
In some nations, national culture impacts businesses in interesting ways. In Malaysia, for instance, our employee Chien Jien Lau, Technical Consultant, noted it is almost unheard of for the company CEO to be involved with everyday workers. Imagine his surprise, he says, when he was interviewing for his job at Versasec and met CEO Joakim Thorén during the initial screening process. “Everyone speaks with everyone within the company, and that’s refreshing.”
While work can enhance our cultural diversity, and at Versasec it truly does, some of our employees enjoy diversity in all aspects of their lives. Tatjana Suhorukova, a business development analyst in our Waterloo office, says multiple languages and cultures are part of who she is even before she reaches the office. Within her family, they combine Ukrainian, Russian and Latvian influences, each with its own holidays and traditions. And, she notes, her children certainly enjoy having Christmas twice each year!
Oliver Oertel, a software engineer from our development group in Germany, got perhaps the biggest group laugh for the day when he expressed his pleasure in working with Americans. Besides getting along with them quite well, he says, “I am a night person, so the U.S. time zones are good for me!”
Want to join our diverse and fun team at Versasec? Click here to see our current job openings.
Photo by Nathan Dumlao.