Program Manager, Google
Galina Livitina is a natural connector and empath, who is passionate about bringing people together and creating strong teams. Her experience as a competitive ballroom dancer has given her the spirit to persevere, navigating new challenges personally and professionally during a pandemic. Her successes in the technology industry have taught her that limiting beliefs are obstacles that don't exist in reality, and that sometimes you have to just step on the gas and close your eyes.
"I sincerely believe that great success comes from perseverance, constantly expanding one's comfort zone, and a great team." - Galina Livitina
1. What has surprised you the most about the trajectory of your career?
I never expected to end up working in Tech - much less at the heart of innovation. I never saw myself as a technical person, and by extension, I had a limiting belief that if one is not an engineer, there was no way or no need for them in tech. I fell in love with the collaborative culture at Google, and how much management is invested in the success of the team and the individual. I'm in an environment now with people who look out for each other and are not afraid to make mistakes, ask for advice, and iterate.
2. What tips do you have for other women just starting out in your profession?
Reach out to those who are already in the field - and it can be someone with just a couple of years of experience (recently started or transitioned into the field), all the way to executives. We can always constantly learn something new. Ask questions to validate your assumptions - especially when you are coming from non-traditional backgrounds. Here in the US, especially in Silicon valley, nothing is written in stone or predetermined for the rest of our lives (unlike in many cultures outside the US). Don't be afraid to ask for what you need. It's hard, but totally worth it. People are happy to help, they just need to know what kind of help you need.
3. How did you stay grounded during this past year in quarantine?
Quarantine definitely disrupted the workflows and our entire schedule in my house. We all have been overwhelmed with screen time, and by the end of the past year, exhaustion had crept up on me. I needed to unplug and focus on eating healthily and paying attention to how much I take care of myself. It's still a work in progress, but I rearranged my schedule to find what was most productive for me. I started to meditate and track it with an app, and I now have over 100 days of morning meditation. I also try to reflect a lot more and practice visualization. The concept of a vision board is about designing the destination without needing to know the paths to get there.
4. What is something you have worked hard to overcome personally in the workplace?
Battling imposter syndrome. The voice in our head sometimes is the loudest and the most dangerous, as it creates mirages of obstacles that don't exist in reality. We (probably as women) tend to see successes in others, while seeing our own flaws magnified times over - and forgive the exact same flaws in others very easily. So, as a result, we end up with a heavily skewed world view. We can see ourselves as heavily flawed, while others appear highly successful without really trying. It's important to remind ourselves that this is not real - EVERYONE makes mistakes and EVERYONE is capable of great success.
My experience as a competitor in dancing has helped me overcome this, because you can't really influence what the judges will say as it's an extremely subjective sport. But when the audience sees you for the first time, and they are clapping and saying how they loved watching you, that is priceless. Knowing that people love to interact with me, love to have me on their team - that kind of belief is so empowering. I find that a lot of people struggle to embrace it (including myself) because it's not modest. It's easier to question yourself without certain validation. But believing in yourself, it's just one of those things where you have to step on the gas and close your eyes.
5. What are some tips you utilize for interviewing?
I look up LinkedIn profiles of people interviewing me, and/or Google them to find what we have in common and prepare a few questions about their career progression to help make a stronger human connection with them. I also ensure that I am in a clear headspace before my interview. I will either take a 30 min nap with relaxing instrumental music, or meditate for 10-15 mins before the interview, practicing deep breathing. And as a final motivator, I write on a big piece of paper: "They Love You! You got this!" and I keep it right next to me during the entire interview, where I can see it.
This helps me feel more relaxed, not anxious. Start with the base assumption that you are there because they want you on their team. You got the interview, now it's time to put your best foot forward.