With an MBA from Harvard Business School, Ellen Rubin had a lot of options, some more challenging than others. She chose to take one of the most challenging paths of all, especially for a woman without a technology background: becoming a serial tech entrepreneur.
Rubin’s current incarnation is that of CEO at ClearSky Data, an enterprise infrastructure startup in Boston that she co-founded with virtualization and data storage guru Lazarus Vekiarides. I recently had the opportunity to interview Rubin, and I asked her, given that her co-founder is male, whether there is a beneficial gender dynamic that exists when two co-founders of a company are opposite genders. She said it’s a matter of balance, not gender:
The most important dynamic between any two co-founders is how they balance each other’s strengths and weaknesses. The gender issue is not the point. I’ve worked with many co-founders in Israel, at CloudSwitch and ClearSky, and there are always issues on which you don’t agree. These can cause arguments, sometimes intense ones that are not easily resolved. However, successful founder relationships depend on two main criteria that have nothing to do with gender: Can you argue and disagree strongly, but still get on the plane together the next day, or go to the next meeting and not have the arguments get in the way of working productively? And is each partner willing to give the other space to lead in her areas of strength, especially as the company’s needs and priorities change over time?