Zoia Kozakov, ’20SPS, may have only graduated from the M.S. in Strategic Communication program three weeks ago, but she’s already earning dividends from the program. This fall, not only is she serving as Associate for Frank Oswald’s “Ethical Decision Making” class, she also launched the WIN/WIN podcast for Women in Innovation...all while holding down a full-time job.
We caught up with Zoia to learn more about the podcast and what else she’s been up to post-graduation.
What has life been like since graduating from the Strategic Communication program?
For the last three weeks, I've been working on getting the word out about Yup, the blockchain social network where I am Head of Marketing. This incredible and diverse group of Columbia alumni and entrepreneurs (including Nir Kabessa '20, Vernon Johnson '20, and Jaya Subrahmanyan '20) has launched the largest blockchain social network in the world, all while graduating from extremely rigorous programs at CU. We also just finished the Envision Accelerator and were featured in TechCrunch.
How did you come to launch the WIN/WIN podcast?
As a master’s student in the Strategic Communication program, I had the opportunity to apply to be a Global Growth Fellow at WIN: Women in Innovation, which is a global non-profit helping close the gender gap in innovation industries (innovation consultancies, innovation departments/roles in Fortune 500 companies, the start-up ecosystem). After finishing the fellowship, I was promoted to be the Global Marketing Lead and saw the opportunity space to communicate the organization to a broader audience, reaching more people. With quarantine giving me back some of that commuting time, I bought a microphone, learned to edit, and was on my way speaking to some of the most impressive minds in the world!
What interviews are you most looking forward to on the podcast?
I would be lying if I said this wasn't like picking a favorite child. But, I am very excited to get the word out about the Innovation Principal at Gensler, Amanda Ramos and Marysharon Owens, who is Head of Global Creative Studios at Illumina, arguably the most impressive biotech company in the world.
How has your time in the Strategic Communication program informed how you crafted the podcast?
Many times, innovation industries do not bring in communication as a part of the conversation, until the product or concept has been actualized, which to me is a missed opportunity. While I would consider myself a strategist and not a communicator by trade, I did the Strategic Communications program to bring that discipline into the field of innovation, as I think it is vital as a consideration.
Many times, innovation industries do not bring in communication as a part of the conversation, until the product or concept has been actualized, which to me is a missed opportunity.
The podcast is a perfect mix of all of the above, in my opinion. I focus on a discipline that can be void of communications and use communications, the podcast itself, as a means to expand its reach, and therefore change the course of the discipline. So many of these women are not the "characters" that you see across social media who have been front and center of the narrative around innovation, and I'd like to change who the "heroes" are.
Any advice for other recent graduates in this strange time we're living through?
Companies like Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat all emerged after the 2008 financial crisis, because the need for something different came out as a bi-product of the crisis. 2020 is symbolic of that, but amplified on a global scale that is absolutely unheard of. To me, that means using everything I've learned to take risks and try things I haven't before, whether that is a podcast, a product idea, or just a creative outlet that seemed intimidating. Who knows, that risk/idea may be the next big thing!
You can learn more about the M.S. in Strategic Communication program here.