Tanya has over 12 years of experience in operations management, business development, and venture capital and she has significantly contributed to various sectors globally.

In a recent conversation with Tanya Romanyukha, the General Manager of TechIsland, I, Souzana Psara, discovered the depth of her experience and vision in propelling Cyprus towards a tech-driven future.

Tanya, who has over 12 years of experience in operations management, business development, and venture capital, has significantly contributed to various sectors globally, including Ukraine, the US, Europe, and the Middle East.

Her expertise has greatly benefited startup accelerators, venture capital firms, investment groups, and non-profits.

Tanya shared, “I am very drawn to mission-driven work. TechIsland’s mission of fostering a tech-driven economy in Cyprus that benefits society resonates deeply with me.”

She explained that her background in venture capital and developing innovation ecosystems allowed her to work closely with startups, innovators, tech companies, and investors, making her move to TechIsland a natural progression. At TechIsland, she engages with the tech and innovation ecosystem on a broader scale, contributing significantly to a social goal for positive change and prosperity.

Describing the strategic initiatives implemented at TechIsland since becoming General Manager, Tanya said, “I have been in the management team of TechIsland from the beginning of the organisation but under a shared-management structure focusing more on the Program management.”

In the last three years, she has worked closely with the Board of Directors, setting strategic priorities towards leveraging Cyprus’ potential to grow as a tech-driven economy.

“We have established six working groups that have successfully advocated for crucial reforms to modernise the tech industry’s operational framework,” she added.

Furthermore, they have launched five tech ecosystem projects, including the Cyprus Tech Ecosystem Map, and raised over €5 million for social causes. “These initiatives have significantly enhanced our organisational impact and fostered a collaborative environment that addresses the industry’s challenges and needs.”

On collaboration between the education sector and the tech industry, Tanya emphasised its crucial role in TechIsland’s vision for Cyprus as a tech hub.

The sudden increase in demand for high-quality English-speaking schools due to the influx of highly skilled individuals has created a bottleneck, leading to a shortage in school capacity.

“During the recent TechIsland Summit, the minister of education highlighted the government’s will for cooperation to address these challenges,” Tanya noted.

They are considering attracting investors to create the necessary infrastructure, then handing over its operation to school operators or renting facilities to existing schools, incentivised through tax benefits and allowances related to land use, similar to the measures taken in Belgium, where VAT on schools was reduced and significant funds were allocated for new school construction.

Moreover, the presence of tech companies offers a substantial advantage for Cyprus. The industry can play a vital role in supporting STEM programmes, offering scholarships and internships, and overall encouraging the next generation to pursue careers in tech and ensure their employability in the AI-driven future.

Tanya’s diverse background in operations management across various global regions has enabled her to navigate diverse cultural and business environments, fostering adaptability and strategic thinking. These skills are instrumental in fostering collaboration within the multicultural community of TechIsland and the local tech ecosystem in general.

Discussing the challenges in aligning the banking sector with the needs of tech businesses, Tanya pointed out that traditional banks in Cyprus often lack a deep understanding of the unique business models of tech companies and startups.

“To address this, we established a working group that facilitates collaboration and alignment between the two sectors,” she explained.

They have organised three separate workshops with the Bank of Cyprus, Hellenic Bank and Astrobank during which representatives from the video-gaming industry gave thorough presentations and answered bank representatives’ questions on their business models and discussed ways to improve banking service to better meet their fast-paced needs. We plan more similar activities in the near future.

On supporting the upskilling of local talent, Tanya highlighted the active role of the tech industry in Cyprus. Tech companies provide opportunities to work and learn alongside world-class tech experts, offering a unique environment for skill development and professional growth. They also offer internships for young graduates and organise hackathons to support entrepreneurs and foster a culture of innovation and problem-solving.

“The tech industry is making significant efforts to cultivate a vibrant tech culture and ecosystem in Cyprus. By demonstrating how it is reshaping the global work environment, they aim to encourage the next generation to pursue careers in tech”, she said.

As the director of the Women in Tech Cyprus Chapter, Tanya has championed numerous initiatives to empower female tech professionals.

“This became very personal to me, and I was lucky enough to meet my partner, Gala Grigoreva, CMO at Adsterra, with whom we share the same ideas and values in terms of women’s participation in tech,” she remarked.

In April 2023, they formed a partnership between TechIsland and Adsterra and launched the IT Ladies community, quickly attracting interest from women in the tech sector.

Recognising the rapid growth potential in Cyprus, we expanded our efforts globally by partnering with Women in Tech® Global, a leading organisation dedicated to Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity in STEAM, enabling us to empower women in technology on a larger scale.

“Today, Women in Tech® Cyprus is an open, free community welcoming women of all ages and backgrounds in the tech sector. Our Telegram chat currently has over 500 members, offering a platform for idea-sharing and communication. We hold regular meetups locally for networking and education, and our online platform connects members to global events and initiatives. Through Women in Tech® Global, we offer a mentorship programme and a talent hub. The Global Mentorship programme provides personalised guidance crucial for career advancement, while the talent hub, with a dedicated job board, connects local talent to global opportunities. Women interested in active participation can join as volunteers to support day-to-day operations or as mentors within the Global Mentorship programme framework”, Tanya said.

Discussing the future of tech in Cyprus, Tanya is optimistic about the sector’s remarkable growth, with a 15 per cent average growth rate in the last decade, outperforming all other sectors. Projections indicate that the tech industry’s contribution to the country’s GDP is expected to reach 15 per cent in 2023.

Tanya highlighted the dynamic nature of Cyprus’ tech ecosystem, which is enriched by a mixture of local and international companies, showcasing top-tier talent across various subsectors such as fintech, video gaming, software development, health tech, cleantech, cybersecurity, AI and machine learning, blockchain, VR/AR, and adtech. “This diversity positions Cyprus as a burgeoning hub capable of evolving into a tech and innovation-driven economy,” she emphasised.

However, Tanya was quick to point out that achieving the full potential of this ecosystem, aiming to become the largest sector of the Cypriot economy, requires substantial improvements. The industry is actively working to develop a strong talent pool, which includes not only relocating international tech experts to the island but also significantly upskilling the local workforce.

To support this comprehensive growth strategy, she stressed the need for enhanced living conditions for these highly skilled individuals. “This involves expanding the capacity of English-speaking, internationally-oriented schools, increasing the availability of affordable housing, and expediting the implementation of the EU Blue Card directive to enhance talent mobility,” Tanya said. She also noted the essential requirement for better alignment between the banking and tech sectors to adequately meet the needs of top international tech companies.

“TechIsland is proactively addressing these challenges,” she said. Under her leadership, the organisation has established working groups that bring together experts from various sectors to collaborate and devise solutions. “In this way, we are creating a platform for effective communication among stakeholders, tackling these issues to ensure the tech sector continues to grow and make a significant impact on both the economy and society,” Tanya concluded, illustrating her commitment to driving forward the tech industry in Cyprus with thoughtful and innovative strategies.

Finally, Tanya explained how TechIsland balances the rapid growth of the tech sector with the sustainability and community development goals.

“Sustainability is one of the strategic priorities of TechIsland,” she stated. As a non-profit organisation, TechIsland provides a platform for its members and their employees, fostering a collaborative environment that supports both rapid growth and sustainable development.

Through projects and third-party initiatives, TechIsland unites businesses, stakeholders, and community members to work towards common goals, ensuring that their initiatives benefit both the business environment and the broader community.

As our conversation drew to a close, it became clear that Tanya Romanyukha is a key force at TechIsland, steering initiatives that promise a brighter technological future for Cyprus.

Her insightful leadership is reshaping the tech landscape and also nurturing a community poised for innovation and growth. Tanya’s commitment to excellence and inclusivity at TechIsland offers a compelling vision of progress and sustainability.