Nevertheless She Persisted

The Seeker: Romi Koifman

by Stephanie Blucker

For Romi Koifman, seeking out new opportunities is in her blood. Romi’s family moved from Buenos Aires to Israel when she was just six years old so they could have more choices when it came to her education. That move meant major changes for Romi in every area of her life.

“I walked into a classroom full of kids who were dressed in unfamiliar fashions and speaking a language I couldn’t understand,” said Romi. “It was, honestly, kind of exciting in some ways. I can imagine that it would be uncomfortable and maybe even scary for most six-year-olds, but once I realized the situation, I immediately searched for ways to get rid of that discomfort and fear.”

Romi’s ability to adjust to change came into play again early in her career when she was drafted into the Israeli Defense Forces, where she began training as a developer. Romi took night classes to complete her bachelor’s degree in both Computer Science and Psychology while she worked. As she gained more experience, she discovered that her true passion lay in working with people to solve technical problems, not in writing code — and she made that clear to her commander.

“Someone may see your strengths and give you an opportunity, but why not increase your odds by speaking up for yourself?” Romi said. “Exposing what you like and what you think your strengths are to others is very important.”

After advancing her career in the army for 10 years, Romi once again felt the desire for change. She eventually landed a role in Microsoft Israel, where she worked on Power BI. Her manager encouraged her to use her love of working with people to improve the product.

“I did a lot of customer engagement, which meant evangelizing the product, participating in conferences, talking about the product, and most importantly working with people,” Romi said. “I communicated with people to get the essence of what they needed, and then brought it back in a very data-driven, realistic way to the product team to shift the roadmap.”

For Romi, it was a period of growth and learning that only deepened her desire to guide teams to deliver on customers’ needs. Four years later, she was ready to fulfill her dream of taking her career abroad.

“I was looking for my next challenge and an opportunity to grow, but I didn’t want to leave Microsoft,” she explained. “I love working for Microsoft. I believe in the values of the company and its focus on innovation.”

That dream became a reality when Romi landed a role in Redmond, Washington, working on Azure DevOps. She moved to the U.S. in 2017. Now a Senior PM, she uses her ability to adapt every day in her work. Her role bridges the gap between developers who want to do their job and the data that helps them do it better.

“I try to think about how data can empower developers to be more productive and to achieve more in their day to day,” she says.

For her, the most critical part of the role is synthesizing what customers want and need with what her engineering team can deliver.

“I love talking to people,” Romi said. “I do customer research sometimes, and I have a list of questions I want to ask, but then the person says something to me that triggers another thought. I’m able to pivot, to go with them, and that’s where I find the interesting stuff. I think that flexibility and agility mindset is what my background and all the different changes I’ve been through in my life have built in me.”

She cites allies, such as her parents and former managers, as her biggest influences and sources of support. She now freely passes on that support by acting as a mentor to young women.

“I’ve never wanted to be treated differently because I was a woman, so I’ve just ignored it in a lot of ways,” Romi said. “But one of my mentors said, ‘Even if you believe that you’re not different because you’re a woman, the moment you walk into a room, you’re a woman. You cannot change the biases that other people have of you, no matter how much you try.'”

But her true success, Romi believes, lies in her ability to be authentic with those around her — just like she was all those years ago when she told her commander what she really wanted from her career.

“I think people appreciate authenticity,” she stated. “It creates an environment of inclusion. When you are yourself, you allow others to feel that they can be themselves. I’m a very open person, and I’ve seen that change people,” she added. “People who were never sharing about themselves or their lives saw me sharing and said, ‘Oh, it’s okay to share; it’s safe to share.’ That’s the power of authenticity.”

Read more posts from the thread “Nevertheless She Persisted,” or check out all of our Anita’s Quilt stories.