As one of the most powerful women and role models in technology in Cyprus, Elena Georgiou Strouthos is heading an agency focusing on mobile platforms design, development, and consultation with an impressive list of international clients from across the globe.

Elena Georgiou Strouthos was an executive Board Member of Cypriot Enterprise Link and served as the team lead for hack{cyprus}, the biggest Cypriot online community of technologists and the first hackathon organiser in Cyprus. Furthermore, she has a podcast about the history of women in computer science called Breaking the 20 per cent.

Please provide a brief business description, summarising what your business/organisation does, its purpose, and what makes it unique.
“We are an award-winning agency focusing on the creation of bespoke and beautiful digital solutions with world-class standards. We design and develop custom and complex applications for iOS & Android devices, along with web systems, having performance, quality and user experience in mind.

“We also provide business and technical consulting services to new and established businesses, as well as customised and complex system integrations to help businesses with their digital transformation strategy. We are the tech catalyst behind leading companies around the world, having worked with more than 100 clients in 14 countries.”

As a woman with a pioneering role, how have you played a key part in bringing about change, and how are these changes enhancing your organisation’s potential for future growth?
“I have organised code schools where we have taught young children coding through robotics. I also consciously try to have a team whose members are 50-50 women and men, and I am proud to say that at Cocoon Creations, 50 per cent of our software engineers are women, way above the 20 per cent average of the industry.

“My podcast also aims to showcase all the women that played a pioneering role in creating the digital era but were forgotten by history. Being role models for younger women in the computer industry is, in my opinion, what we as women in this field contribute most to society.”

How does an increase in the number of women in the workforce benefit businesses and organisations?
“If we are referring to the tech sector, which is where I work, then by including the 50 per cent of the population that is typically excluded, you have a higher chance of filling all the open positions and resolving the programming shortage that the sector is currently facing.

“Furthermore, including more women results in a greater diversity of viewpoints, concepts, and experiences. This may result in more creative solutions, greater judgment, and enhanced problem-solving skills.”

What does it mean to be a female pioneer in your industry, in this day and age?
“Despite our desire to believe that the 21st century has seen significant progress, women still experience bias and discrimination in the computer industry. In the tech industry, there is a bro culture that is pervasive and encourages misogyny and segregation, and that women must manage.

“The importance of removing gender barriers in the workplace is now acknowledged, and we do have access to tools, networks, and support systems that women may not have had in the past, but there is still a long way to go.”

Do you believe men still dominate the most influential companies in the world today? If so, how does one break down the barriers of this gender imbalance?
“Speaking specifically about my own sector, the response is yes. There is no simple solution to this complex issue, which many individuals, groups, and even governments have attempted to address. The obstacles date back many years and are related to stereotypes as well as the reality that the tech sector is fundamentally sexist in many subtle and varied ways.
• “We need to have visible role models, we need to start early but expose young girls to coding before society convinces them that they cannot do this, and we need to recognize the numerous problems with sexism and discrimination that exist within the industry and attempt consciously to solve them.”
• Did you have a woman leader as a mentor, or are there specific women who inspire you and why?
• “I had the good fortune to work for a successful and inspirational female boss when I was a young professional. The reality that women initially helped to build the industry before being driven out by men in the middle of the 1980s is another realisation I’ve had over the years and is the topic of my podcast.”

How are your pioneering efforts preparing your company for a future that is more sustainable?
“The Department of Labour has certified Cocoon Creations as an employer of equality since 2018, making us the smallest business in Cyprus to hold this certification. Our office is welcoming and inclusive, and it values variety and champions equality. 50 per cent of our workforce is female, and we offer equal chances for hiring, promotion, and pay for women. Our work schedule is flexible, and all of our workers have the choice to work from home. Additionally, as part of our summer programme, we offer teenage female pupils an internship at our business for two weeks.”