Lilit Yenokyan joins AIWA-SF Board of Directors

Los Gatos, California — AIWA-SF is pleasured to announce that Lilit Yenokyan, a technology leader at Netflix, has been elected to AIWA-SF’s board of directors.  Christine Soussa, President of the Northern California affiliate says, “Lilit’s addition to our board will helps us continue to achieve our stated growth goals so we can continue to positively impact lives.”  AIWA-SF is focused on expanding it’s projects and to bridge opportunities in education, career development, mentorship and leadership for Armenian females worldwide.
Lilit says she is “a self-identified geek, technology enthusiast, mom, wife, advocate for women and proud Armenian.” She was was born and raised in Yerevan, Armenia in family of scientists. The culture of working hard, giving back and really understanding how things work was instilled in her from the early age.  She shares that her choice of career in science or technology was obvious since the age of 6.

We had the opportunity to interview Lilit, excerpts of the discussion are shared below.

LWTheadshot_IMG_1809_merchant (1)Tell us a bit about yourself…

I moved to US in 2006 to attend graduate school in University of Michigan. I have BS degree from Yerevan State University in Applied Mathematics, and MS in Computer Science from University of Michigan (UofM). Michigan was the place I met my future husband Viktor, native of Yerevan.

My entire professional career has been in software industry. I started as software engineer in Yerevan startup Instigate in 2005. During my studies at UofM, I was a research assistant for Professor Armen Zakarian, who has been one of my greatest mentors since. At UofM I worked on exciting projects funded by US Navy, such as modeling and 3D printing prosthetics for Navy veterans. 

In years after school I worked at Ann Arbor, in Michigan branch of California startup Barracuda Networks. I started as an engineer, then moved to lead test automation efforts. After 6 years in Michigan, we wanted less several winters and we moved to the west coast. I started to work for Microsoft in 2012 on MSN.com in Seattle, WA. 
There was however something magical about San Francisco Bay Area. we dreamed of living here since visiting first time in 2006. I joined Netflix in 2013 as Senior Software Engineer. Since then I worked on number of teams, focusing on improving video quality and bringing to our users key features such as mobile downloads. Netflix has nurtured my academic curiosity of chasing inventions and doing things no one has imagined possible before.

I am a feminist and advocate for women’s rights. Having spent my career in tech I know firsthand about many injustices women have to put up with. My passion is encouraging women, especially mothers to stay in technology and providing them with coaching and resources to succeed in this discipline. I co-lead the Anita Borg Institute (ABI) Silicon Valley initiative for women in tech in Bay Area.

Frequently I am invited speaker at software conferences and events, on topics of software, company culture and women. 

Last but definitely not least, I am mother of two children – Ella, 3 and Alex, 1. Since they were born my priorities in life were reexamined, them taking the most important role. The fact that I am able to focus on career and things I am passionate about, is thanks to my supportive husband and my parents who help tremendously with raising he kids.


{Q} What do you love most about where you grew up?

I grew up in Armenia and spent most of my life there. There are so many fun memories. The one I recall in times of hardship, that can cheer me up anytime are memories of my childhood in our country house, in village Byurakan. As kids, we spent our summers there with my paternal grandparents. On weekends, my parents would come, with my aunts and uncles and their families. With some meat on the grill, with cheerful conversations and lengthy toasts, the music would soon play, and everyone would be dancing and singing in no time. Most guests would spend the Saturday night, and Sunday we would wake up to my grandma’s delicious tomato omelet.

{Q} What does being on the AIWA-SF board mean to you?

I am very happy and proud to join the AIWA-SF board. This is my way to give back to the Armenian community and inspire the Armenian women leaders of tomorrow. I know of many struggles and stereotypes that unfortunately still dominate in Armenia, restricting women from becoming truly independent and self-reliant. I join with a vision how we can help them with the AIWA-SF dynamic community and leaders.

{Q} What is your favorite Armenian tradition?

Festivals, parties and especially weddings. There is certain magic in Armenian weddings. How the groom would come to bride’s house with live music, how godmother would put the veil in bride’s hair singing a special song, and how the mother-in-law will spoon-feed honey to newlyweds after church ceremony. I am tearing up remembering the beauty of each and every part of the ceremony.

{Q} Who inspires you?

My parents, my mentors including AIWA-SF leaders, Elon Musk, Grace Hopper, Walt Disney… People who don’t accept stereotypes and imposed limitations, people who believe it takes one person to change communities and improve way of life.

{Q} If you could use technology to do one thing, what would it be?

Cure diseases! I would also love an ability to fly, have a chip installed in my body that I could turn on and rise about the ground, mostly to avoid traffic J.

{Q} Do you have any hobbies?

I love painting and photography, sometimes I blog. 

{Q} Where is your favorite place to go in the Bay Area?

Work.  I love going to the ocean, feeling the magnificence and force of it, the gentle breeze and the smell of fresh ocean air.

{Q} What is your life philosophy?

Simple: do good things and good things will come to you. Also question (try to prove wrong) every time you are told something is impossible. 

{Q} What languages do you speak?

I speak Armenian, Russian and English.

{Q} What advice would you give your younger self?

Invest in Bitcoin, buy Apple stock. 😊 But really, pace yourself. Enjoy the time and don’t rush through life, everything doesn’t have to happen tomorrow.

Please join us as we welcome Lilit to our leadership team!

AIWA-SF:

The Armenian International Women’s Association is a dynamic global 501(c)3 dedicated to empowerment, education and enrichment. Through many projects and initiatives,  AIWA is dedicated to enriching social, economic and personal advancement of Armenian women worldwide through educational and other community activities that promote gender equity, and emphasize our Armenian cultural heritage.   To learn more about AIWA, please visit http://www.aiwainternational.org.

To get involved with the AIWA-SF affiliate, please visit http://www.aiwasanfrancisco.com or send an email to aiwasanfrancisco@gmail.com. We are grateful for all donations. To help us promote progress, contributions can be mailed to: AIWA-SF 15559 Union Ave #227 Los Gatos CA 95032

 

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One thought on “Lilit Yenokyan joins AIWA-SF Board of Directors

  1. Congratulations, AIWA! It is inspiring to read Ms. Yenokyan’s interview and story. Looks like you have a real winner in her. I am impressed anytime an Armenian woman achieves some status in life, but especially when they migrate from Armenia and rise to the top of their profession. Bravo!

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