On Motherhood, Advocacy, and Changing the World

This article was originally published on The Expat Woman.

As Mother’s Day approaches, we are excited to chat with Olga V. Mack, an incredible professional and mother.

Olga V. Mack is a startup advisor, nationally-recognized author, public speaker, an award-winning general counsel, women’s advocate, and entrepreneur. She is an inspiration and advocate for women everywhere trying to create successful careers. She is an adjunct professor at Berkeley Law, TEDx organizer, and serves on numerous boards and advisory boards. Olga founded the Women Serve on Boards movement (womenserveonboards.com) that advocates for women to serve on corporate boards of Fortune 500 companies.

Welcome to The Expat Woman, Olga. Thank you for answering a few questions for us!

Mother’s Day is just around the corner, and we’re excited to celebrate inspiring moms everywhere. What is your favorite part about being a mother?

My favorite part about being a mother is that it is inspiring and fulfilling. Katie and Natalie, my 8 and 6 year old daughters, inspire me to aim higher and dream bigger every day. Since they were born, I have routinely asked myself two questions. One question I always ask is, “What do I do to improve our community and the world?” Asking this question led to me becoming the founder of the Women Serve on Boards movement, which holds Fortune 500 companies accountable for including women on their corporate boards. It also led to me organizing and curating the first ever TEDxEmeraldGlenPark, to showcase “the ideas worth sharing” in Tri-Valley, California where I live.

Interesting! What is the second question you regularly ask yourself?

The second question that I regularly ask myself is, “Am I a good role model?” For example, I am on a mission to model the importance of life learning and taking a personal responsibility for it. I have been an attorney my entire life, but every single position I’ve taken has been a step outside of my previous comfort zone. Constantly seeking new job responsibilities requires that I am constantly learning. I like to lean into this and embrace the opportunity to learn new industries and roles. For example, I recently joined Quantstamp as Vice President of Strategy – my first business position since I graduated from law school! Quantstamp is a company on the cutting edge of technology that uses blockchain to secure smart contracts. The goal is to be on the ground floor of this transformative technology and lead the way in building it from the ground up to make sure that we make important decisions intentionally. Specifically, I want to make sure that security and inclusion are built by design and not an afterthought. I am certain that intentionally instilling the right values in blockchain and smart contracts industries early on will be instrumental in proliferation of research and development and adoption of this high-potential technology. There’s a learning curve, but I’m taking it head on because I truly believe in our mission. I hope that I can serve as a role model for my daughters and others to embrace learning opportunities.

How do you make sure that your caring for yourself as well as your family?

I prioritize spending time with my daughters, my very supportive husband, and my amazing mother. They are very instrumental in all my personal and professional adventures. They get me! They always ask me how they can be more helpful and supportive. At the end, after spending time with them I feel pampered and cared for and in the process they inspire me to continually grow and challenge myself.

One of your incredible accomplishments has been creating Women Serve on Boards. What inspired you to found this organization?

According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Equilar Gender Diversity Index (GDI), it will take 40 to 100 years to reach parity on American corporate boards. At this rate, there’s no way we’ll see it happen within our career years – and there’s only a very slim chance that we’ll see it within our lifetime. The next generation is no better off. Even with the most generous estimates, our young daughters would be well into their careers by the time parity is achieved. So, I had to do something about it! Since then I have influenced numerous Fortune 500 companies to find their first and sometimes second woman director, influenced and written numerous boar parity-related legislations, and written All [A]Board: Your Journey to Becoming a Corporate Director to demystify the board journey for all professionals, especially women.

As someone who is an advocate for professional women, what is your best career advice for women trying take the next step in their careers?

Empowering and advocating for others has been a constant factor in my career success. Advocating for others is a win-win for everyone. Not only do you make an impact and improve the world around you, you also build amazing relationships, improve your life satisfaction, and become a leader in the process. Advocacy, just like leadership, EQ, financial acumen, and prioritization skills, is an essential business and life skill that must be taught early and often. If implemented consistently throughout your career, I am certain that all professionals, including women, will optimize their impact, career goals, and life satisfaction. This is especially important for women moving into more historically male-dominated industries, as well as women helping pioneer new industries. For example, as I move into the blockchain and smart contract space with my work at Quantstamp, I want to ensure that women and other under-represented groups are represented as blockchain moves forward. Ensuring adequate diversity and representation in new spaces, like blockchain, is an important part of securing long-term, sustainable success.

Thank you, Olga!