AiAllies – Gaby K Slezák, Unyted
Having enjoyed a highly successful career spanning 30+ years in the technology sector and as a leading figure helping organizations bridge the gap to success in the metaverse, Gaby K. Slezák is well positioned to deliver key insights on the future trajectory of the tech industry and on how greater gender balance can be achieved across the STEM field.
However, like many of the women featured as part of Artificial Solutions´ AiAllies project, Gaby did not have a clear path into the technology industry when she was starting out in the early part of her life.
“I studied economics at university but after a year and a half, it was obvious that everything was just about money.” She said.
“I was always very creative and didn’t want to commit to a career where I was just looking at numbers and data sheets. During my studies, I actually made money by painting advertising on the outside of stores and designing posters on a computer, which I enjoyed more!”
With a clear sense of direction already forming, it was the introduction of technology that helped to convince Gaby of the best path forward.
“My boyfriend at the time bought a computer but he never used it, so I decided to see what you could do with it. I found that I could do graphics design with it and still have fun after doing that for 10 hours. If I could do that and make money, that would be a smart move. I quit my economic studies and trained to be a computer graphics designer instead.”
At the time, computer graphic designers were still hard to find, meaning Gaby had found a valuable niche.
“I specialized in 3D design and quickly found a position with the leading multimedia company in Germany, Pixelpark. Even though I had an unfinished degree that didn’t stop me from having a successful career. I was always good at finding solutions and even though I cannot code and don’t even consider myself to be a huge ‘tekkie’ I have still been able to enjoy this industry. I just wanted to help build the future that science-fiction authors wrote about.”
Like every other person to have featured in the AiAllies project, Gaby highlights her strong curiosity as the reason for her progression.
“I took on some additional learning and training opportunities that were offered as I was always interested in finding solutions and using innovative technology to make things work, just through learning a lot of new skills, I was offered the role of Innovation Director.”
Within her new role, Gaby transitioned Pixelpark from a multimedia agency to one of the first internet agencies in Germany in 1994, before leaving the company in 96 to start her own company as a freelance consultant.
Over the course of the next 26 years, Gaby worked with some of the largest publishing companies and innovation labs in the world, always working to drive major digital transformation.
She recently co-founded Unyted, a startup building an open metaverse platform that helps to guide companies looking to explore key opportunities in the metaverse.
To learn more about the impact that the metaverse will have on a range of industries and how Conversational AI needs to be central to that, enjoy a dedicated feature which has been created with the insight of Gaby K Slezák herself.
Helping to Create a Balanced World
Despite her metronomic rise through the ranks of the tech world, Gaby faced a range of challenges as she fought to make a name for herself and to prove that women could lead an industry that was almost entirely male dominated at one point in time.
“I worked with clients such as IBM and T-Online that had workforces entirely dominated by men. I remember being asked on several occasions whether I was a secretary or an intern in those meetings! I also remember how my CEO was continuously asked tech questions when I was with him during meetings, he would have no idea and I would answer each and every question. But still, even after 4 or 5 times, the questions were still directed to the CEO, it took a while for men to get their heads around it.”
“I didn’t let that get to me though, I thought that it was their problem more than mine.”
“Over time, I realized that men communicated differently, and somehow I had learned to speak their language, but other women didn’t. It’s like having to learn a foreign language. Also, whenever something went wrong in a project, the reason was never the technology, but rather communication – or the lack thereof. As a result, I also spent time working to become a communication trainer and coach.”
Alongside her work to become a professional trainer, Gaby also studied psychology while working full-time, helping to provide a range of learnings she could apply to her professional life. But that still wasn’t all. Gaby also revisited university while in her 40’s while caring for her young child.
“I prioritized learning things that didn’t come naturally to me because I knew that is what would be the most beneficial. I was lucky to be able to mix campus and online learning while pursuing my master degree. Just because something doesn’t come naturally, doesn’t mean you can’t learn!”
“My advice for women in the tech industry is to connect with other women in the same sector. There are wonderful networks and global think tanks with regional chapters where you find a lot of support, opportunities and like-minded souls for professional exchange, mentorship and much more.”
To connect with Gaby via LinkedIn, click here.