Elya McCleave has been taking risks her whole life. In this fascinating Nomad Futurist podcast, McCleave shares her inspiring journey from Uzbekistan to Canada where she is now the Founder of Innovorg, a SaaS company dedicated to helping businesses optimize employee and customer success. McCleave’s journey was fueled by her vision and determination to actualize her potential. She discusses with Phil and Nabeel the many challenges she faced including assimilation into a foreign culture, learning the nuances of English, and finding her voice as a female leader in a male-dominated industry.

The daughter of engineers, McCleave was encouraged by her parents to pursue her goals. Initially obtaining a degree in civil engineering, she shifted her focus to other aspects of contemporary tech, emigrated to Canada and secured a position as a first-line engineer, moving up through the ranks as she became focused on customer success — something she is passionate about.

I’m not your typical technical leader, technical founder. I’m more focused on customer relationships, the operations, the customer success, the sales elements.”

McCleave talks about the challenge of achieving an authentic communication style, of finding her voice as a woman in business. Some mentors suggested that she not share personal details of her life with her staff, others suggested that she was too direct.

Now I realize the only way forward is just to be yourself…especially with your staff…letting them get to know who you really are makes things much more fun and much more enjoyable in the workplace.”

McCleave talks about the emotional rollercoaster she has experienced as a founder, negotiating the ups and downs of her own business. Her biggest challenge is the loneliness she faces after having worked in companies with large teams, alongside VPs, directors, and managers.

All of a sudden I’m a solo founder in my little office, with my laptop doing my thing. Trying to build a product and rally the people around me.”

McCleave talks about the importance of having friends and family to counterbalance the loneliness that can come with entrepreneurship. 

But she clearly thrives on taking chances and is extremely upbeat about the necessity of living with risk.

“You need to rely on the universe, know that it has your back, and everything will work out in the end.”

Her advice to people starting out, especially immigrants who are pursuing a corporate career:

“Companies do not nurture authenticity. There’s the notion of your being a great soldier and producing great results. But producing great results can also mean having your own personality, having your own great style…so don’t be afraid to be yourself and let your colleagues and your boss get to know you.”

Elya McCleave has two decades of global leadership experience in IT Service Management and Customer Success. She is a vibrant, veteran leader of the Cloud industry, responsible for pioneering and reshaping the customer experiences of many successful organizations. 

Since leaving the corporate world, McCleave founded a SaaS company, Innovorg, to help more businesses focus on employee and customer growth. Innovorg is an ambitious, ground-breaking analytics and skills-building solution that has been refined from years of listening to customers, the employees that serve them, product managers and executives who build their businesses around achieving complete customer satisfaction. 

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