Former Chess Champion Now Queen of Cloud Computing
© Werner Münzker | Dreamstime.com
Whether it's strategizing, searching for good opportunities or exercising mental toughness, business professionals rely a lot on the same principles as chess players.
So it may come as no surprise that a former child chess prodigy, Victoria Livschitz, has found the same success running her own IT company as she did playing the game.
After learning the game from her father, Livschitz was crowned Lithuania's youth chess champion in 1988, at 17.
"I learned it fairly young and always enjoyed it," Livschitz told ITTechNewsDaily.
Three years after winning the title, and one year after marrying a man she met at another chess tournament, she and her husband immigrated to the United States.
Her success as a businesswoman didn't come quite so quickly as her rise in chess. While her husband delivered pizza, Livschitz found work at a Cleveland dry cleaners.
"Our first jobs were whatever we could do to make money. It was basic survival," Livschitz said.
Livschitz discovered programming while attending Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. After graduating, she went to work for the Ford Motor Company.
Her passion for creating technology blossomed there, and it led her to leave for a job as an IT architect at Sun Microsystems. It was at Sun, in 2005, that she began working on the cloud.
"At that time it was called 'computing on demand,'" she said. "What was readily clear to me back then was this was a revolutionary concept."
Hoping to expand on it, Livschitz left Sun to start Grid Dynamics.
"To me, it was pretty obvious this model was going to be successful," Livschitz said. "I wanted to capitalize on my insight."
She did just that.
The company, based in Fremont, Calif., now has 160 employees and offices around the world. Livschitz said it is building cloud offerings for some of the world's largest technology providers, including Microsoft and Cisco Systems.
Livschitz said she was able to use many of her chess skills as she maneuvered her way through her business career.
Specifically, she pointed to being able to handle competition.
"You have to have a stomach for competition, because business is very competitive," Livschitz said.
Her ability to quickly think through several different scenarios also has come in use: "You are always making decisions with incomplete answers. It helps in determining which option is most likely to be successful."
Finally, Livschitz said there were plenty of chess games she lost. As in the world of business, she said, that experience is necessary to make you tougher.
"That toughness is required to stay in it for the long haul," Livschitz said. "You are able to take a punch and roll with it."