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Spotlight Series: Gabi Matic, Co-Founder & Director, Metta

Gabi Matic

ARTICLE SUMMARY

We sit down with Gabi Matic, Co-Founder & Director of Metta, an organisation that supports startups, industry and governments with sustainable technology-driven innovation. Gabi talks to us about her career journey, how she got into the industry and her advice for other women in tech.

Gabi is a co-founder and director of Metta, the transformative innovation agency with the mission to improve the sustainability and accessibility of innovation.

Before that, she was a programme director at the ATI Boeing Accelerator and Ignite, and co-founder and  CMO of Mindmate, an Ignite and Techstars NYC alumni company. Since 2016, Gabi has accelerated and directly supported over 150 startups in different industries and stages and has mentored hundreds more. She’s also a Venture Partner for the Aerospace Xelerated programme, accelerating aerospace and adjacent industries startups. Gabi is an angel investor particularly interested in sustainability, health tech and founders from underrepresented backgrounds. She also supports a range of early-stage startups as a mentor and advisor.

How did you land your current role? Was it planned? 

This might be the first role in my career that was somewhat planned. When I left my first startup, I knew I wanted to get into innovation and startup support. I tried different roles and focuses, and when my co-founder and I started Metta, we built roles around our expertise and filled other gaps by hiring the right people in our team.

What are the key roles in your field of work, and why did you choose your current expertise? 

There are many different ways of breaking into the startup support or accelerator programme space. Like me, many people go into it after gaining experience in building a business themselves. Others have specific skills that are useful for startups – e.g., sales or product management – and advise founders on their particular business challenges. Often, young talent comes into this ecosystem through junior roles, like programme or investment associates, to learn and get inspired by entrepreneurs, investors and innovation leaders. Through that avenue,  I’ve seen many great people go to work for startups directly or grow into more senior programme roles.

I was really drawn to this world as it constantly pushes you to learn new things and develop your skills and expertise within the ever-changing landscapes of tech and innovation.

What does an average workday look like for you? 

It’ll sound like a cliché, but every day is different. I spend a lot of time catching up with startups from our portfolio to help with ad hoc challenges or introductions. On some days, I might be focused on preparing content or a workshop to deliver to corporate, government or university clients to support related to building and scaling businesses. On other days I might be attending or helping run an event to support the startup ecosystem, managing a research team for a canvassing project or preparing for a podcast interview – while dealing with some of the more boring parts of running a business. I also always take time to learn new things, and I’ve learned to be really focused when prioritizing on a day-to-day basis, as there are usually many different things thrown my way.

Has anyone ever tried to stop you from learning and developing in your professional life, or have you found the tech sector supportive? 

The fact that the tech sector moves incredibly fast and that your super-relevant expertise today might be obsolete tomorrow means that everyone is constantly learning and developing (at least those who succeed). The tech ecosystem fosters that ethos, and I’ve always felt supported in my development. There is definitely a lot of competition and some gatekeeping, particularly in smaller, less developed ecosystems, but I’ve personally never felt held back in that way.

Have you ever faced insecurities and anxieties during your career, and how did you overcome them?

I think it’s normal to feel insecure sometimes, particularly in a space where you constantly learn and try new things. Feeling anxious and insecure can also result from the workplace culture we find ourselves in. Is the structure in which we get promoted or praised conducive to a caring and respectful environment? Does gender bias remain unquestioned? Do we receive conflicting advice on how we should or shouldn’t behave? As much as confidence is a very personal thing, we need to remind ourselves that our environments can make us very insecure. We need to demand safe spaces and fair treatment at work and remind ourselves: There is a reason for me to be in this room – my expertise is valued!

Entering the world of work can be daunting. Do you have any words of advice for anyone feeling overwhelmed? 

Understand that every job or role has a learning curve – it’s okay not to get it 100% right at the beginning. The only way to improve is to ask lots of questions and be open to feedback. Try to enjoy this period where you learn and experiment while all your different career paths become more visible. Learning to prioritize my work made a real difference for me when it comes to feeling overwhelmed – ask your manager or mentor to help you with this while you are early in your career. Set boundaries early on to make sure you don’t take on more than you can manage, and you’ve set expectations in a balanced way.

What advice would you give other women wanting to reach their career goals in technology? 

    There are no set templates for reaching your career goals, so trust your instincts and choose a path that suits you. If you stay open to feedback, treat everyone with respect and go at it with a ‘give first’ attitude – I guarantee it will be paid back in one way or another! Some days it will feel impossible – but progress isn’t linear, so keep going!

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