We had the good fortune of connecting with Olga Shmaidenko and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Olga, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
I was born and raised in Ukraine (country with a Soviet mentality at the time), immigrated to Canada, then moved to the United States, to New York City. I’ve lived thirds of my life in different countries and cultures and was shaped by them all. I’ve experienced different societal norms and attitudes toward achievement, failure, perseverance. I was able to feel what it’s like to be an outsider, without the ability to verbalize frustration, hope, happiness and desire. My background, upbringing and immigrant experience taught me to avoid judgement, be open to differences in people, celebrate and lift up those striving to survive and prosper.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I jumped into my current role of a photographer and photojournalist after spending years working in and studying for a completely different field: biochemistry and business. Transitioning into a brand-new creative world took courage and was stress-inducing at first. It was not easy. However, my project WOW Woman requires approaching and celebrating women in such variety of professions and life circumstances that I quickly realized that I’m far from alone in taking a risk and pursuing a passion full time. I started WOW Woman as a way to shine spotlight on women who have persevered, took a shot on goal, succeeded, failed, learned and tried again. The platform keeps evolving but I remain true to my core belief of honoring women of different ages, backgrounds and cultures. I choose to celebrate diversity. I am grateful for every woman I featured on WOWwoman.com and remain in awe of the stories I am entrusted with. This responsibility, to showcase women in their best light, keeps me humble and motivated.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I have been on the road for the past five years and currently live out of a suitcase. The stories on WOW Woman span across four continents and over 50 countries. We’d have to zero in on a country first and then discuss a perfect itinerary.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to thank and give a shout out to the women who shaped my life story (my mother, my mentors and friends) and the WOW Women I have interviewed, photographed, learned from and celebrated on WOWwoman.com.
Other: email: firstname.lastname@example.org