“I’ve always been interested in technology and how to create new solutions to solve difficult problems,” says Sophie Ross on how she became interested in a traditionally male-dominated field. Due to this interest, she pursued an engineering degree in Tel Aviv University and earned an MBA at Harvard.
In pursuing a career in tech, Ross found a common thread: the importance of teamwork. “My belief that collaboration is necessary to innovate is ultimately manifested in a career focused on the intersections of technology and business challenges,” states Ross. This is certainly true in her current position as the Global CEO of the Technology segment at FTI Consulting — a global business advisory firm — where collaboration is key.
“Every day [at my job] brings new opportunities to innovate and connect,” explains Ross. “One thing that’s always consistent (and happens to be one of my favorite parts of the job) is collaboration. Whether I’m working with clients, partners, employees or our firm’s executive leadership, I’m always in a collaborative mindset. I love this aspect of leadership and seeing the results of our amazing people when they’re empowered by a set of shared goals that will drive our business forward.”
And tied to this is an inherent need for flexibility and an ability to think on your feet. “Our clients’ needs — and leadership in general — are fluid, so each day is different,” Ross notes. “Leading in a fast-growing, industry-leading professional services firm involves overseeing strategy and execution across our practices; supporting the evolution and refinement of our core values and company culture; driving diversity, inclusion and belonging initiatives; working with clients, contributing to the firm’s executive committee and much more.”
In this interview, we chatted with Ross about her career and advice she would give to other women who want to succeed in the tech world.
Tell us about your job.
I’m the Global CEO of the Technology segment at FTI Consulting and have been in this role since 2016, leading teams that help our clients manage their data in the context of compliance and risk and deliver solutions across Information Governance, Privacy & Security, Digital Forensics & Investigations, E-Discovery Consulting & Services, Managed Review, Corporate Legal Operations and Blockchain and Digital Assets practices.
What do you find are the most rewarding and challenging aspects of being a woman technology professional?
I think people can easily fall into the trap of focusing too much on what went wrong or what was the hardest. I’ve always tried to focus on the positive angle and impact I can have in any given situation. Focusing on what to do next rather than dissecting problems is incredibly powerful — and rewarding. Working at the intersection of legal, consulting and technology provides tremendous opportunities to make an impact and collaborate, and I find that very motivating.
In terms of our business at FTI Technology, it’s an exciting time to be in legal technology consulting. Our clients are facing completely new challenges, and, as a result, we’re working on the cutting edge of legal and regulatory issues, using the latest in advanced analytics technology. It’s incredibly exciting to take on these new challenges, especially with a diverse, dynamic and growing team.
What traits/skills help you succeed as a technology professional?
I’ve always had an entrepreneurial mindset, looking at things from a fresh perspective and coming up with new ideas or new ways of doing things. I think that’s a critical trait in leadership, especially within industries that are constantly evolving, like technology.
What’s your No. 1 piece of advice for women looking to start a career in technology?
I think future leaders — women and men alike — need to recognize that leadership is different in today’s world. And not just from a physical workplace standpoint. Leadership is no longer about hierarchy but rather about collaboration.
It's also important for women starting out to think deeply about their strengths and how they can make an impact, and then have confidence in those skills. Make your voice heard in a positive way and differentiate yourself by letting those strengths and skills really shine.
What projects or accomplishments are you particularly proud of?
During the first several years of my role as Global CEO of FTI Technology, I worked with our senior leaders to drive a strategic turnaround for our business. This included a significant effort to deepen the skillsets of our experts, adding critical services for clients and strengthening the team’s focus on key areas amid a continually intensifying landscape of data risk. Seeing the impact that new direction has had on our business and our growth has been immensely rewarding.
Now, however, after two years of leading during a prolonged global crisis, I look at that accomplishment in a new light. The resilience, creativity and nimbleness our organization and our people have shown in an environment where everyone has been subject to high anxiety is an achievement in itself. I’m so proud of how we pulled together to manage our people, while supporting clients through a fast-changing and uncertain climate. I admire the team’s perseverance, positivity and ability to maintain upward momentum in the face of unprecedented challenges.
How has FTI supported you?
FTI Consulting has been consistently recognized as a great place to work. The firm as a whole is deeply committed to improving diversity, inclusion and belonging, and I’ve had the privilege of helping our company launch programs that support these goals across hiring, retention, mentoring and external collaboration with clients.
We’re creating a safe space for employees to share personal experiences and engage in candid discussions and are paying much closer attention to granular details — such as the types of images used in presentation materials and the makeup of teams — to build a more inclusive, engaged and innovative firm.
FTI Consulting’s Women’s Initiative (FTI WIN), for which I serve on the Global Steering Committee, is a great example of how these types of programs can make an impact. FTI WIN started as a small group of senior leaders in the company establishing a framework for mentoring and uplifting women within the firm. Today, the progress we’ve made is remarkable — we have addressed pay gaps, successfully recruited and retained top female talent and found ways to better meet the needs of women in our workplace.
Looking forward, as FTI Consulting works to become an even more diverse, inclusive and equitable workplace, FTI WIN is serving as a strong foundation for how to scale these types of programs across our global teams and ensure more women are supported and empowered to achieve their goals.
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