Meet Shirly Kalush, One Of The Great Women Behind Every GoTo Ride
What's your role at GoTo? I am the COO and responsible for a range of areas including fundraising and M&A, as well as overseeing global expansion and operation deployment.
What was yourprofessionaljourneybefore GoTo? I've been in mobility for over 10 years. Before joining GoTo, I was at BlaBlaCar, the carpooling platform based in Paris. Prior to that I had launched a taxi hailing service in Argentina. Before getting into mobility, I had the opportunity to work at the World Bank and the World Trade Organization which is where I fell in love with the idea of working globally - I've now lived in 7 countries and I speak 5 languages.
What about life beyond work – can you share some interesting facts about you? I love to swim, going on hikes, travelling, and dancing. I also enjoy reading history, psychology, and philosophy books. All this make Tel Aviv the perfect place for me. That said I do miss the travel and am looking forward to things getting back to normal on that front.
I was lucky to have a strong role model such as my mother, who always told me "the sky is the limit" and a father who always supported me and guided me when needed.
What's yourfavorite mode of transportation and why? It's definitely the bicycle. I use the bike to go anywhere in the city - I love the feeling of total freedom that riding a bike gives me. It allows me to enjoy the outdoors while I'm commuting, and also get a fun workout too. The not being stuck in traffic is also a big plus.
What does equality mean to you? For me it's simple really – it's all about having equal rules, access, and opportunities for anyone and everyone. It's not just relevant for the work environment but in life in general. Our sense of equality is something we learn from the people around us, starting from a young age. I was lucky to have a strong role model such as my mother, who always told me "the sky is the limit" and a father who always supported me and guided me when needed. In the professional world, women and men start off as equals but slowly as they develop, and climb, a level of inequality appears. Everyone must do everything in their power to eliminate this, including advocating paternal leave and creating a balance that enable men to leave early to see their children. At GoTo we already have a flexible work structure that allows both men and women to leave early to be with their family on given weekdays.
What is the main challenge you face as a woman in the professional world? I don't really see it as a challenge but actually see opportunity - especially in a sector like mobility. It's true that there are fewer women than men in senior positions – however this actually helps people stand out in a positive sense. And fact is that the more time passes the number of women is ever growing. I remember my first EcoMotion conference, when it came time for the break, there was a long queue for the men's restroom and none for the women's – that came in handy. But I'm happy to say that at the last EcoMotion I attended, that line for the ladies-room had grown quite a bit!
Do you have any tips for women in trying to make in an organization? I'd start by recommending they read Sheryl Sandberg's book 'Lean In'. From there, I'd say don't settle for a back seat. Ask questions, push yourself to be part of the key discussions and do so with confidence. Also remember to always be networking - introduce yourself to key people, tell them who you are and that you have a view. Finally, never be afraid to fail!
What do you think is the role of shared mobility in the equality landscape? Buying a car can be the second-most expensive purchase a person makes, after a home. Shared mobility offers people access to vehicles without having to buy them, giving them the freedom to go where they want, when they want – at an affordable rate. It truly levels the playing field in that regard. Why are you excited to be at GoTo? I believe in our mission – we can make vehicle ownership obsolete. Shared transportation is the future of mobility in urban centers, and it's also my own way of moving around the city. So whether it's by bike, kick scooter, moped or car – we can give people the freedom to go where they want with ease – for me that means visiting my grandmother outside the city during weekends when public transport just won't cut it. I love working in places where we can make an impact. At GoTo, I feel I'm making a big impact, both in our company and globally.