How she built a career in a man’s world

Evgeniya Malina- Food Rocket

Evgeniya Malina, Head of Business Strategy and Operations at Food Rocket

Evgeniya Malina, Head of Business Strategy and Operations at Food Rocket,  is responsible for automating the company’s operational processes and building the foundations to scale.

My path is full of challenges and opportunities

Evgeniya graduated from University College London and earned a Master’s degree from the Queen Mary University of London.

After finishing her studies, she joined a leading consultancy Ernst & Young in London, where she worked on high-profile projects for companies on Fortune Global 500 list, like Amazon. However, she’s always wanted to play a role internally and to watch those going live.

Later, Evgeniya joined Sberbank, where she was the head of analytics within the Digital Business unit. It was a period of time when huge companies like Google, Amazon, Alibaba, and Tencent were eager to build a digital ecosystem around their core products, capturing clients within the ecosystem by creating products and services that seamlessly penetrate into their daily routines: everything from grocery shopping and booking flights to looking for a job or getting medical help.

Her team and she analyzed 18 different digital markets in three months and developed a strategy for building an ecosystem that digital, non-financial markets could enter.

The plan also included  how to integrate them into the bank’s existing product offerings, channels, and infrastructure following the goal to grow the bank’s business by developing subsidiaries in non-financial spheres.

Afterward, Evgeniya was invited to join the digital office of Rostec, a tech company, where she was responsible for the research and development of 5-year plans for the implementation of digital technologies like 5G, blockchain, and big data across all business, academic, and state spheres at the national level.

It was a trip for 6 months, after which Evgeniya joined another prominent bank in the country, VTB. The corporation planned to build a service-based structure and undergo digital transformation in order to accelerate the development of new products and services.

The team achieved this by implementing more advanced IT systems and technologies as well as changing the organizational structure and operational processes across all divisions and functions.

Evgeniya was in charge of creating a complete methodological and strategic development for the transformation. As a result, the bank was able to implement more than 1,000 new products and services.

Evgeniya was always looking forward to dealing with real products and joined another department that deals with debit cards at the start of the pandemic. 

Her goals were to create new debit cards and to help smooth the process of digitalizing client experiences, particularly for customers who were only used to offline banking services.

One of the most interesting and challenging goals was the development and implementation of a new technological process that would automatically transfer more than 80,000 clients to the national payment system, allowing them to receive their pensions and social benefits without physically attending bank branches in times of COVID-related restrictions.

This journey led Evgeniya to Food Rocket

After working with corporations for a long time, Evgeniya was always passionate about new challenges and looking forward to working in international markets and the opportunity at Food Rocket was a great fit to do so.

She had to organize all the operational processes right off the bat. For her and an international team, the challenge was to build and automate processes for a new market with a new mentality, different regulations, unfamiliar supply chain specifics, and even a different geographic landscape.

For example, the team didn’t have to deal with hills like in San Francisco. At the same time, they had to deal with unfamiliar purchasing habits because Americans prefer offline shopping to grocery delivery, and they couldn’t believe in the concept of 15-minute delivery.

Food Rocket is an amazing opportunity to implement everything from scratch. For example, the challenge for the American market was that producers typically don’t mark the production/picking date for fresh items like fruit.

This can lead to situations where customers get fresh items that spoil too quickly because they’re not used soon enough.

Together with the team, Evgeniya built an algorithm that helps identify expiration dates for these items to provide our users with fresh food that will not be spoiled the next day.

Working for a startup means that you’re a decision-maker, so you don’t need to go along with internal approvals. Sometimes you make mistakes, and you take the whole responsibility as well. For instance, I once rolled out a new system prematurely in our new contactless stores and a distribution center. We were eager for its immediate launch as our old systems couldn’t keep up with our business growth. At the time, I was overseas, and it was challenging to control its launch remotely.  So many things went wrong during implementation and it felt like a personal failure, especially when the final decision was made to postpone the launch and carry on with the legacy systems. The problems we experienced during the rollout created distrust in the new systems among the employees, who were no longer expecting anything good from them,Evgeniya Malina says.

It was then that she realized that transformations do not happen in one day. Instead, Evgeniya stepped back and viewed it from a fresh perspective.

She went ahead with collecting feedback on the key problems experienced during the rollout, prioritized them, and went back to development to create a system that works.

How to build a career in a man’s world

Evgeniya’s path always went through “male” industries, such as finances, banking, business consulting, and operations.

Sometimes she realized she was the only female in the room. However, Evgeniya felt a spirit of competition against the men as she needed to hide her weakness and to prove to others her stands and points of view.

Probably Evgeniya could make it real because of her personality as well as the knowledge that professional skills and confidence would win them over.

Evgeniya can’t say it always went smoothly. Once a male partner didn’t want to talk with her and their colleague as they were female; he just left the call.

Over the years Evgeniya created her own rules of communication: You have to be confident and clearly understand whom you are dealing with.

Overall, Evgeniya’s journey at Food Rocket now is a vital part of her life. She feels like they are a sports team working toward common goals and victory.

“I feel a sense of belonging in our mission to help customers focus on important things. I believe that we are not just “snack delivery.” Instead, I believe we could widen the range of services we provide and deliver anything in a short time. We started with groceries to make people’s lives easier and facilitate opportunities to spend time with people who matter.”

Evgeniya’s path through traditionally “male” industries helped to develop their confidence in her abilities and showed that she was more than capable of handling the challenges that come with joining an international startup like Food Rocket.

Every challenge and every opportunity in her journey through finance, tech, operations and consulting has taught her valuable lessons that have equipped her for doing something she’s truly passionate about with Food Rocket.

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