As a people-centric enterprise, we are proud to acknowledge our woman-powered workforce today and every day. Here’s a quick look at three living examples and their female role models.
Ulla Bak, President & Co-founder
President Ulla Bak, Esq. LLM co-founded the company, serves on the board of directors, and is a key decision maker who propels the progression of our organization. She’s also our in-house attorney, so she holds supreme authority on many levels. If you were to ask her husband, Bak USA Chairman & CEO J.P. Bak, what Ulla’s role is at Bak USA, he would vehemently exclaim, “She’s the boss!” 10 out of 10 times.
One of Buffalo Business First’s Power 100 Women in 2016, a Buffalo Business First Woman of Influence in 2015, and a board member of the WNY Women’s Foundation, Ulla demonstrates female excellence, aptitude, and achievement on every level. Her leadership is only exceeded by her generosity, ingenuity, and grace under fire. She is a bona fide role model—not just for women at Bak USA and in the community—but for all her employees.
“We are so proud of everything they have accomplished,” Ulla says of her Bak USA family. “I have never witnessed a team so talented and eager to take on such accelerated learning, and to do it as well as they have… It is simply incredible.”
I’m not sure if Ulla would be flattered to know this, but I view her as something of a mother figure. She is most certainly the company’s matriarch, and her loving leadership inspires respect and admiration across the board.
Ulla’s Woman of Influence: Marie Curie
“My role model is Marie Curie,” says Ulla. “She was able to combine her outstanding scientific work with motherhood. She was also known for never having been corrupted by fame.”
Marie Curie was a Polish physicist and chemist who won two Nobel Prizes: one in physics in 1903 and another in chemistry in 1911. She’s the only woman who has won the Nobel Prize twice, and the only person to win one in two different sciences. Having coined the term “radioactivity,” established techniques for isolating radioactive isotopes, and discovered the elements of polonium and radium, Marie Curie was indeed a strong pioneer—not just for women—but for the entire field of science.
Rachel Ernisse, Product Marketing Coordinator
Bak USA Product Marketing Coordinator Rachel Ernisse initially applied for a position as a graphic designer, but we loved her so much that we had to create a new role that would maximize her skill set. A SUNY Cortland graduate with a degree in new media design, Rachel is helping Bak USA establish our strong yet sophisticated style—a key component to any company’s brand.
Rachel’s positivity, willingness to work with others, and unflagging enthusiasm enable her to act as a liaison between the marketing team and the production team. An intellectual bridge between two vastly different departments, Rachel’s versatility and leadership ensure that our computer products look and feel the same to all users, exceed customer and company expectations, and represent our company brand consistently.
“Every day is exciting!” Rachel exclaims. “To be able to work with so many talented people and to build these computers that make such a difference in so many people’s lives is amazing. I am so lucky to be a part of it!”
And we are so lucky to have her. Rachel, with all her style, business savvy, and charm, is the type of woman who doesn’t just get things done—she gets them done quickly, correctly, and convincingly. She’s a true game changer at Bak USA, and she is an excellent representation of what women can achieve in the workplace.
Rachel’s Woman of Influence: Amelia Earhart
“As for my woman,” Rachel begins, “she’s not quite a ‘tech’ person, but I’d definitely say she was an innovator for her time. She is Amelia Earhart. Since I was a kid I’ve admired her because she didn’t let limitations stop her. In a male dominated industry, she proved that a woman can be an aviator too and fly over the Atlantic Ocean. During a time where women didn’t have many opportunities, she defied what society told her she couldn’t do. She is a constant reminder that there are no limits in your ability.”
Amelia Earhart, as Rachel notes, is known for becoming the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, an endeavor she achieved in 1928. On top of setting many other records in the feats of flight, she was also a best-selling author and participating supporter of historic female organizations such as the Ninety-Nines, National Woman’s Party, and Equal Rights Amendment movement. Amelia Earhart is a bold representation of female achievement and an instrumental figure in the advancement of women.
Ashley Bankston, Builder
Ashley Bankston is a Bak USA rock star, plain and simple. Born and bred in Buffalo, New York, Ashley represents the perseverance, strength, and success of the modern metropolitan woman. A GED recipient, A+ certified tech worker, and Bryant & Stratton IT graduate, Ashley is a living example of how to make it in America.
And as a tenured builder at Bak USA, Ashley is a major part of Bak USA’s success; without employees like her, the company could not function. She is a living and breathing testament to strong-willed women everywhere. “Working here is good for me, my peers, and the city of Buffalo,” Ashley says. “You can still make it without a high school diploma. People don’t think so, but you can!”
A mother of two and entrepreneur (she operates her own taxi business as a second career), Ashley is a joyous and enthusiastic person who is a pleasure to work with. “My motto is ‘live, love, life,’” she says with a smile. “And I am a role model for my children,” she adds. “That’s what drives me in my work. I love that.”
Indeed, Ashley is a role model for us all.
Ashley’s Woman of Influence: Oprah Winfrey
“My woman of inspiration is Oprah Winfrey,” says Ashley. “She grew up poor and had an oppressive life growing up, but she stayed strong and really made something of herself. One of my favorite quotes that she says is ‘turn your words into wisdom,’ which is something I think about every day as I strive to succeed in life.”
Oprah Winfrey isn’t an innovator in science or tech, of course. But she is a champion of the human spirit which certainly resonates well with us. Oprah’s success in media and television is a testament to the accomplishments women can achieve in an otherwise male-centric industry/society. Her heartfelt approach to storytelling has helped humanize people, a radical contrast to the exploitative nature of popular television talk shows as that time. Oprah represents strength in the face of adversity on many levels and is undoubtedly a source of reverence for many women and men around the world.
As a simple man among many brilliant women, I am humbled and privileged to occupy the same space as Ulla, Rachel, and Ashley, as well as all the other strong and accomplished women who work at Bak USA. Their collective contributions are cornerstones of our success as a company, and I am extremely proud to call them my coworkers, my colleagues, and my friends.
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James A. Colombo III
Check out the rest of our talented workforce at bakusa.com/team.