Victoria is a problem solver, and life has taken her to be an international trainer, digital transformation consultant, founder of Behaviour Hackers and ITU expert. She works on building bridges between technological advancements and human interactions by focusing on communications through the use of behavioural science.
She has been heavily involved in the tech community for the past ten years by supporting entrepreneurs and organisations locally and internationally. Victoria has received special recognition by the UK government as an exceptional talent in the technological sector and delivered training with companies such as Linklaters, IBM, Coop, Oliver Wyman, among others.
Her passions are people and technology and combining them to make a world where people communicate better. She strongly believes that most problems arise from lack of effective communications. As an engineer, her goal is to find how to get people to communicate in the most effective way and streamline it. Victoria is committed to removing silos to create an empathetic, inclusive and diverse technical solutions for the common good.
I find enjoyment in identifying new opportunities and gaps in the market, and the importance of rethinking and adapting has been highlighted by the current COVID-19 crisis.Victoria Masso
Growing up, her parents were always a strong influence, and she has unknowingly fallen into her father’s steps, becoming an engineer and entrepreneur. Although she has always been a digitally and technically oriented person, she decided to pursue a MSc. in international business and subsequently behavioural science.
She is originally from Venezuela and has been living in Europe for the past 11 years, currently residing in the UK. Starting her life from scratch in a different country was not particularly easy but nevertheless, a great experience and resilience builder.
Victoria’s life is now abroad, but not bound to one country. She has made it her life to travel and make connections all over the world to allow flexibility in her work and foster a deeper and diverse understanding of economies, behaviours and problems.
I see my need for acquiring new layers of knowledge based on the demand of a specific moment, whether is internal or external. A key theme that I have learned over the years, is that the combination of multiple disciplines is crucial to succeed in today’s VUCA world, as well as a very strong understanding of human behaviour.Victoria Masso
As an expat from Venezuela, Victoria nourishes the problem-solving mindset. She had to ask herself ‘how can I do what I like and am passionate about but still make sure I have a home, help my family and truly have an impact’. Returning to Venezuela was not a possibility.
This brings a series of limitations, including a way of approaching life. The concept of thinking of motivations is not the same for Victoria as for any person that has the security of not being an expat from a country in a very troubled situation. If you think of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, to think of belonging, esteem needs and self-actualisation you need to cover physiological and security needs first.
This is something she finally understood after an interesting conversation with a good friend from Palestine. They kept hearing their European friends talk about how they ‘chill and take time for themselves’, asking them ‘what makes you feel fulfilled’, what is their 5-year plan, and many wonderful personal development concepts even including love life. Victoria could never relate to them and after that conversation with her friend she realised why, they simply do not have that privilege yet.
Since her journey started outside of her “homeland”, she has always tried to have that security to think in the future, to have a home, including her family and herself. That has been her driver, fulfilling that security and having a sense of belonging. This is why a lot of her work has been around having a voice that creates an impact, even if that voice is limited at the moment. Furthermore, she has always tried to complement that driver with the impact that she wants to have in the world.
The amazing thing is that, as she is now closer to obtaining her European nationality, she is starting to plan for the future, to feel different, to understand what ‘fulfils’ her. Victoria hopes that in one-year time her drivers and motivations will come from a deeper understanding of the new gained privilege that comes with having secured a home and exploring the other layers of the pyramid.
A motivation that I feel is deriving from this is the ability to use my new voice to help the ones that don’t have them.Victoria Masso
What Victoria enjoys most at Aspire
She kindly admits: “The people and everything you learn from them. Entrepreneurship and wanting to make a difference can become a very lonely path with a lot of barriers. Having a network of likeminded humans that are driven and ready to do what it takes to change the world is not only inspiring, but it feels like home! Moreover, the ability to access knowledge and support from Ivy league professors that are available to support the network is priceless.”
1) If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Get ready for rejection and to be vulnerable. Both are scary but incredibly rewarding long term. Also, see every situation as a learning opportunity.
2) What are your non-negotiables?
My word is the most important thing. If I say I will do something I will do it, even if it takes me 5 years. And later I celebrate happily.
3) What was the hardest decision you ever had to make?
If I think of a recent one that has to do with losing control of one of my core drivers, I would say it was about deciding whether I should change my career focus based on actual market demand and impact or whether I should continue what I was doing (which would also secure me a visa renewal).
Venezuela is not only an incredibly dangerous place, but human rights and basic needs are not a given. Since I’ve left, I have focused on my visa path to make sure I can stay outside of Venezuela while also doing what I love. A well thought visa journey requires a level of analysis and order of actions as any mistake can result in visa denial. Additionally, every visa type has its own restrictions. The goal of my visa path is getting citizenship to have the freedom and security that comes with it and live a normal life.
My first start-up didn’t work for many reasons including my co-founder moving to LA. During that time, I received training on behavioural science, and straight away the demand made it, so I was involved with incredible projects around this subject from the get-go.
However, my visa was attached to my failing company so I had to make the choice. Do I continue with the failing company, keep investing and overwork myself for something that didn’t make sense anymore but with the possibility of continuing my visa and see some rewards in the future? Or do I continue with the new path of behavioural science and later figure out what to do with the visa, with the possibility of not being able to get a citizenship at the end.
I chose the latter and I don’t regret it for a second, because, even though it was incredibly stressful to lose control that way of something that in the long-run could have cost even my life, it opened my world to these new possibilities and accelerated my growth, my career and impact. Ultimately, I ended receiving special recognition by the UK government and was given an exceptional talent visa which is highly competitive. It was worth it.
4) Can you tell me about a time when you almost gave up, how you felt about that, and what you did instead of giving up?
Recently, I was betrayed in business by someone I really cared about as a friend and had to get lawyers involved. This is not my area of expertise and it was a very difficult and emotionally draining process. However, instead of taking this as a failure, I utilised this moment as a time to learn about law in the UK and negotiation. It changed the angle and mood around the problem, and I was lucky to find someone to help me learn and take the time to answer all my questions. This is how I like to see most of my life and, together with my wonderful network of friends, is why for me giving up is never an option.
The outcome was that I analysed behaviours throughout the relationship and identified new red flags to consider when getting involved with someone in business; I now implement contracts when needed to create an extra layer of protection even when it comes to friendship; and assessed my time more carefully when investing it in others. However, my dynamic of interconnecting and supporting people did not change as I believe that one bad experience should not damage who you are at the core. You can only control how you feel and what you learn from it.
When it happened, I felt hurt and betrayed. It’s difficult to rationalise that someone that cared for you can take an unfair advantage too. I questioned my ability to read others, which is at the core of what I do for a living. The reality is that no-one is infallible and we need to be more forgiving when we are wrong.
The first thing I did when the situation happened was reach out to my network, in which I asked openly to the Aspire Professionals network if someone could give me some advice. I am from a country where law and justice work very differently, but I learned I could do something about this specific problem thanks to my friends.
Through Aspire, not only have I received legal support, but personal too. Marius Stanciu has not only helped me tackle this situation with kindness and his professional expertise in law, but also listened to me patiently. I can’t imagine what my mental health (and my current situation) would be without him and his colleague Viktor.
I can’t stress enough how important a strong, capable network is for anything.Victoria Masso
Knowing that there are incredible humans in my network to support me and see my value changed how I felt 360 degrees. It truly helped me push forward in a time where lockdown made everything so much more difficult. This experience has not made me give up doing business with friends, because that is one of the fun parts of my life, but it has taught me to be more careful. I have learned so much about the legal system and thanks to my very driven and knowledgeable friends, this negative situation has become a learning process, removing the stress around it and enjoying the company of the incredibly smart Marius.
5) What is that one book that has influenced you the most?
Many books have influenced me in different moments of my life for different reasons. I think at the moment Who thought this was a good idea? by Alyssa Mastromonaco and How Democracies Die by Daniel Ziblatt and Steven Levitsky.
6) Why should people apply for an Aspire experience? What did you gain by being part of this community?
The Aspire experience is more than just a week of learning from some of the best professors in the world. It’s the people. I got to Aspire through one of the most amazing humans in this world: Magda Baciu. She is now Forbes 30 under 30 in Romania and one of the most hard working and ethical individuals I know.
During the Aspire week, I met one of my current best friends: Silvia Dusa. Since then we have worked together with the United Nations agency ITU as mentors and on innovation challenges (apply https://cocreate.itu.int/ ), as well as other projects. She makes me be a better person every day! Marius, as I mentioned before, and so many other inspiring humans.
This network has impacted my life so much I have shared it with some of my other networks that are very much in line with Aspire. Henry Dobson, Francisca Krabberod, Kseniya Sidarovich, these are just a few of my friends that are now part of Aspire.
I cannot wait to see them again. These are friends for life and leaders to be inspired by.
Memento Mori (“remember death”). It is a great reminder of the inevitability of death and to live every second like it will be your last.