As the Principal Group Program Manager for Skype.com, Vasiliki “Vicky” Gkiza is the person behind what millions of global users experience when they arrive at the Skype.com.
She has also played a central role in important Skype developments, like the recent integration with Outlook.com.
“It’s a dream come true to work on one of the top sites in the world,” says Vicky. “And, now, as part of Microsoft Silicon Valley, opportunities like the integrations between Skype and Lync and also Skype and Xbox, are really exciting.”
But growing up in the tiny town of Arta, Greece (which is better known for its medieval bridge than for creating tech talent), she had no idea she would or could come so far.
Vicky didn’t think much of the computer at her father’s office until an older cousin showed her how it could access the wonders of the Internet. Intoxicated by the potential of what she saw, Vicky immediately became a self-described “geek.” She laughs, “While my friends were negotiating more allowance for traveling and entertainment, I was doing the same thing - but for a computer.”
After getting an MA in Communications Policy at City University of London, she wanted to continue to explore the nexus of media and technology. Vicky got a job working with the small team that oversaw Yahoo! Greece. “Within six months, I was managing projects,” she remembers. “I did everything: I wrote specs, code, business plans, marketing briefs, I even translated all of Yahoo! Mail and Messenger into Greek myself. I paid my dues and learned a lot.”
She soon became a product manager with a strong relationship with the Yahoo! team in the Valley. She says, “By 2004, I decided that to get a deeper understanding of the product, I needed to be in Silicon Valley and I transitioned to the team in the US. I then worked with real estate site Trulia in its infancy before coming over to Skype.”
Vicky now oversees the Skype.com, My Account and Skype SMB and audience initiatives. She explains, “My goal is to always engage users in a better way.”
As for her team’s accomplishments, Vicky says, “We’ve re-released the site in 29 languages with a new brand, a new content management system and targeting capabilities. It’s been amazing to watch users’ excitement and positive feedback.”
“A lot of us have a strong emotional attachment to Skype,” she says. “Skype’s soul is dispersed among the offices in Palo Alto, Redmond, Prague, Estonia, Stockholm and London. But we all share the same passion for the users and we understand that each office brings something different and important to the table.”
Looking forward, Vicky says, “I love that we’ve been able to bring Skype together with new worlds of users like Outlook.com with its 400 million people. There’s a ton of opportunity and we are finding out how we at Microsoft can help each other become better.”