Coming from an immigrant background…
Maria’s parents immigrated from Greece. They were pharmacists, and she reminisced about a childhood filled with hard work and pitching in to help with the family business. Her parents wouldn’t call themselves entrepreneurs, but she later realized that is exactly what they were. She credited this background to her work style and work ethic today.
“I had so much energy and I wanted my skills to be recognized and leveraged”
Maria started her career at Arthur Anderson & Co., after being encouraged by her parents to go into a more traditional field – like medicine or law. Maria quickly grew bored, and felt her skills were not being utilized. She told us that a colleague at Arthur Anderson & Co. encouraged her to ‘get out while you can.’ Following this advice and the advice of her mentor, Maria went to graduate school and volunteered in the community. This is where she became interested in the technology world in Chicago, met many new friends and business partners and transitioned into doing what she loves, which is building businesses.
Maria on Leadership Styles
Maria has worked with, and learned from, many leaders throughout her career. She quickly recognized a common trait in leaders that she admired – a strategic mind. Operational leaders are important, but strategic thinkers are the people that build new and innovative organizations that fill a gap or solve a problem. Maria focused on being a strategic thinker, which is what allowed her to focus on co-founding Built In. She also highlighted that recognizing weaknesses, and admitting fault is key in any great leader. The Built In community has focused on this, and has ensured that there is no place for toxic workers.
Built In is a passion project…
Maria is passionate about what she does, and the evolving nature of her role as Built In grows. What started as a two person shop, an outlet and community for leaders in the tech world, quickly evolved into so much more. Maria reflected on the struggles of scaling to other cities, coping with a round of investors while her daughter was severely ill, and the importance of being human focused, as the CEO of a growing organization.