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Spotlight Series: Ula Sankowska, Co-Founder & co-Chief Executive Officer at MIM Fertility, Co-Founder of MIM Solutions

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ARTICLE SUMMARY

Ula Sankowska is co-founder and co-CEO at Mim Fertility, a Poland-based best-in-class deeptech company specialising in ai solutions for the healthcare industry.

Under Ula’s leadership, MIM Fertility delivers bespoke and innovative AI solutions crafted perfectly to different patients’ needs by collaborating closely with IVF clinics to standardise, optimise and automate clinical workflows. In addition to creating flagship software applications such as EMBRYOAID and FOLLISCAN, the company is committed to advancing research and collaboration with physicians in order to enhance patient care for women throughout their reproductive lives.

Ula Sankowska, Co-Founder & co-Chief Executive Officer at MIM Fertility, Co-Founder of MIM Solutions

Ula has over 15 years of experience in business and is a graduate of the Warsaw School of Economics and University College Dublin (UCD), Ireland. In 2022, she was awarded Businesswoman of the Year by Sukces Pisany Szminka in the ‘Leader in New Technologies’ category.

WE SAT DOWN WITH ULA TO CHAT ABOUT HER JOURNEY AS A TECH ENTREPRENEUR, WHY SHE FINDS THE TECH INDUSTRY SUPPORTIVE, AND HER CAREER ADVICE FOR OTHER WOMEN IN TECH.

HOW DID YOU LAND YOUR CURRENT ROLE? WAS IT PLANNED?

The beginning of endeavours that are driven by passion often elude any concrete blueprint for planning. It is with this in mind that I find myself in the position of leading a company that makes a real difference.

In my capacity as a representative of the MedFemTech industry, I have had the privilege of being at the forefront of embryology and infertility treatment. The trajectory of my path led me towards involvement in this field, albeit not necessarily by conscious design.

My reason for co-founding MIM Fertility, however, arose from a deep-seated desire to be more than a passive observer of challenges facing so many of us in society.

Rather, it was my desire to be an agent of change in improving the lives of others that has driven me to be a part of such a crucial industry.

WHAT ARE THE KEY ROLES IN YOUR FIELD OF WORK, AND WHY DID YOU CHOOSE YOUR CURRENT EXPERTISE?

As a female and a mother, I am acutely aware of the immense significance attached to conception and parenting for many people. Despite having prior experience in a diverse range of industries unrelated to MedFemTech, my professional background has consistently demonstrated my capacity for leadership and the successful execution of objectives.

At MIM Fertility, I assume a comprehensive oversight role, though my responsibilities are ably shared with my co-CEO, Piotr Wygocki, and the exceptional AI/ML & IVF specialists with whom I collaborate. My primary focus involves spearheading the development of novel and improved solutions and cultivating partnerships with preeminent in vitro clinics. My primary aim is to ensure that medical professionals and their clients benefit from our world-class support.

My motivation for pursuing this endeavour is rooted in the belief that informed and secure parenting is the harbinger of a brighter future. Nothing is more gratifying than witnessing individuals embrace the responsibility of nurturing and caring for their offspring when they are ready to do so.

DID YOU (OR DO YOU) HAVE A ROLE MODEL IN TECH OR BUSINESS IN GENERAL?

I believe that business is not about imitating successful individuals, but rather about upholding a specific set of fundamental principles. On my personal and professional path, I have had the privilege of meeting people who have taught me core values that I incorporate into my daily responsibilities at MIM Fertility.

Among these values, I emphasise the importance of embracing change and failure, persisting in the face of adversity, cultivating self-compassion while simultaneously exhibiting kindness and empathy towards others. These principles are critical when constructing meaningful relationships and building something of value with and for others.

WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN YOUR CAREER, SO FAR?

I am extremely proud that MIM Fertility’s values align perfectly with my own personal values. We are dedicated to achieving our goals with the highest level of excellence, while also promoting a positive and friendly culture within our organisation. The exceptional individuals who make up our company add to my overall sense of satisfaction, and I feel fulfilled in my daily involvement with our enterprise.

WHAT DOES AN AVERAGE WORK DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?

My typical workday is varied and unique, with no two being alike. At the start of my day, I begin by assessing the tasks I am slated to undertake and prioritise them accordingly.

Throughout the day, I engage in a range of different conversations and often find that I need to overcome challenges to take strides forward, which can be a little difficult at times. However, I am fortunate to have a supportive team of colleagues with whom I enjoy working collaboratively.

As I travel often to attend conferences around the world, my presence in the office is limited. However, despite this, I find the office atmosphere to be energising and motivating. Lately, I have been missing the team spirit that is an integral part of office culture, but I expect to be back soon.

On the whole, I relish the dynamic nature of my work environment and the vigour it fosters.

ARE THERE ANY SPECIFIC SKILLS OR TRAITS THAT YOU NOTICE COMPANIES LOOK FOR WHEN YOU’RE SEARCHING FOR ROLES IN YOUR FIELD?

Undoubtedly, in my field, there are specific skills and traits that are highly sought after by companies when searching for suitable candidates. Among the most crucial qualities, self-sufficiency is regarded as paramount as companies need employees who can take the initiative and work independently without constant supervision.

Another vital trait is a strong sense of responsibility for their work.

Companies desire employees who take ownership of their tasks and are accountable for their outcomes, as they seek to ensure that projects are completed efficiently and effectively.

Furthermore, engagement and enthusiasm for the job are highly valued qualities in potential employees. Companies seek individuals who are passionate about their work and display a high level of commitment to their role, as this demonstrates dedication and drive.

Regarding competence, it is generally considered preferable to be highly engaged with room for improvement than to be highly competent but disengaged. However, the ideal candidate would possess both a high level of engagement and expertise in their field, as this combination is highly desirable.

Ultimately, engagement is considered more important than competence, and companies prefer employees who are purpose-driven and focused on achieving results. In the business environment, there is always a goal or objective to be achieved, and companies want employees who are motivated to attain that goal.

HAS ANYONE EVER TRIED TO STOP YOU FROM LEARNING AND DEVELOPING IN YOUR PROFESSIONAL LIFE, OR HAVE YOU FOUND THE TECH SECTOR SUPPORTIVE?

To be candid, I haven’t experienced any instances where anyone has impeded my educational or professional growth. My experiences within the technology industry have proven to be supportive, but within the medical field, the degree of support people receive is often based on their workplace and how they manage their position.

Personally, my tenure within the technology sector has been highly empowering, affording me opportunities to pursue my aspirations. While I believe that discrimination based on gender is not evident, age-related discrimination towards younger professionals may exist. Such discrimination can be limiting and should be acknowledged, as younger individuals possess untapped potential. In summary, my experiences within the technology industry have shown it to be conducive to learning and growth, for which I am appreciative.

HAVE YOU EVER FACED INSECURITIES AND ANXIETIES DURING YOUR CAREER, AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?

Yes, I have confronted a variety of insecurities and anxieties throughout my career. On many occasions I felt that I should leave my dreams at the door and consider a new path. However, I was fortunate to have benefited from the guidance and encouragement of exceptional mentors and supervisors who offered unwavering support during my journey. They are open-minded, motivated people that have made a real difference to my career.

I’ve faced a number of challenges, some of which were complex and unfamiliar, but I’ve also been nurtured and empowered by my environment and the people I’ve met along the way. I’ve also been lucky enough to have been given lots of great opportunities that boosted my self-confidence and self-reliance.

Thanks to the trust and validation from my peers and mentors, I’ve been able to thrive.

I’m indebted to the people and experiences that supported my growth over the years.

ENTERING THE WORLD OF WORK CAN BE DAUNTING. DO YOU HAVE ANY WORDS OF ADVICE FOR ANYONE FEELING OVERWHELMED?

Perseverance is key to personal and professional development. Maintaining a steadfast commitment to your work with passion and devotion is something to be proud of, but it’s important to value self-care as even the most efficient machine can’t function continuously without rest!

Surrounding yourself with inspiring people and pursuing your aspirations with unflagging determination are essential elements of success. It’s also important to cultivate a sense of resilience and fortitude in the face of challenges and setbacks. Ultimately, with a steadfast commitment to your goals and a conscientious approach to self-care, success can be achieved.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE OTHER WOMEN WANTING TO REACH THEIR CAREER GOALS IN TECHNOLOGY?

Regardless of the industry you want to be in, women have to let go of the idea that it’s impossible to succeed – particularly in tech.

Listen to experts and find mentors that can provide you with that all important guidance, but at the end of the day, you should always place faith in your own abilities.

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