Community Spotlight: Rimma Boshernitsan, CEO of DIALOGUE
Meet Rimma Boshernitsan, the founder and CEO of DIALOGUE. An innovator, experimenter, and thinker, Rimma brings together the worlds of business, science, art, and design. Drawing inspiration from her academic experiences, as well as advising CEOs of Fortune 500 companies ranging from Apple, Aesop, Lyft, Google and the like, Rimma successfully cultivates dialogue between leaders, bringing together seemingly disparate ideas to influence business strategy. We chatted with her to hear more about her company, experiences, and her recent event at our Historic Train Station in San Francisco.
SPLACER: Tell us about yourself…
RIMMA BOSHERNITSAN: I was born in Eastern Europe and came to San Francisco in 1991 with my family. I then went to University of California, Santa Barbara, studying Economics and Art history; both inspired me greatly in future ventures. I started my career working at Deloitte Consulting, where due to my focus in M&A (Mergers & Acquisitions), I had the opportunity to live in London, Paris, NYC, and Moscow. I was really fortunate to get such a diverse experience at a young age: working professionally on human-focused issues of organizations and being able to explore new territories and new cultures simultaneously. This experience led to my work advising executives and CEOs several years after I left Deloitte. After being in consulting for many years, I didn’t necessarily want to continue; however, in 2010, a former client presented me with an interesting opportunity.
SPLACER: What was the opportunity?
RB: I started working in the art world in the realm of strategy and art acquisition. I really enjoyed the combination of art and business. It became apparent to me that both worlds aimed to communicate the same thing, yet spoke different languages. After thinking deeply about the interconnectedness and the opportunities for cross-pollination, not even just art and business, but also the science, design, and psychology of it all, I got the impetus to bring these worlds together through dialogue. This paved the way for the prototype of my company, DIALOGUE, in 2013.
SPLACER: Tell us a little bit about your company.
RB: When I worked in consulting, the work was heavily based on strategy, people, and companies, but when I worked in art consulting, it dealt more with an understanding of commerce and the idea of context and culture at large. During conversations I had with artists, I realized that there were ties back to work I did with Deloitte in the business world. I’m good at cross-pollinating and seeing how things connect, so creating a model for Dialogue was really the next step. I started thinking, what would happen if I could bring thought leaders together around a variety of topics that were relevant to us as a culture? After doing several prototypes and leveraging many friends as sounding boards, I realized that there was a methodology – one that could be used to help clients have a greater impact through their already-existing products as well their people. DIALOGUE as a company was born.
SPLACER: Where do you see your company in several years?
RB: We’re currently working with US-based clients. Over the next 2-3 years, I’d like to go international. I love collaborating and working with people, so growing our team of 4 to a team of 10+ is absolutely on my radar. Additionally, I’d like to expand on our product offerings. Right now, we’re a small and nimble company that is able to be agile and meet our clients’ needs. My goal is to stay this way but also build towards the future.
SPLACER: Can you tell us a little bit about the event you hosted at our space?
RB: The Dialogue we hosted was On Place and the Future of Urban Living. It struck me as a pressing topic, which stemmed from a few conversations I have been having as well as the interview I did with the Splacer founders Lihi and Adi. The future of interaction of people in cities is changing. Understanding how factors like space, place, community and transition are being planned for in terms of how we think about our lives is a very pressing topic – especially in an ever-changing city like San Francisco.
SPLACER: Why did you pick the space you used?
RB: The Oakland train station space is somewhere I’ve been before and have been wanting to transform. Since experience design enables the people we bring together to viscerally relate to the chosen topic, it was a dream to be able to work within it. Having our Dialogue on the topic of Place in a location that is no longer representative of a transitional space, a space for transportation, or a community gathering place, seemed perfect. The team and I loved that the station is situated in a neighborhood that is in the process of gentrification. It made us ponder the role this space played in the neighborhood before the 1989 earthquake and the purpose it will serve again in the future. The inaccessibility of the train station by the community in which it is in facilitated a conversation on the repurposing of space in a changing neighborhood. Also, the 7000 sq. ft of space allowed us to get really creative. I invited my collaborator, Robbie McMillan, Founder & Creative Director of Aubrey Maxwell to think through the potential of the station. Together, we conceptualized an altar, consisting of work by Jonathan Anzalone, Windy Chien and a video installation by UK born, SF-based artist, Richard T. Walker.
SPLACER: What are your favorite amenities in a space?
RB: Personally, I love an amazing bathroom or kitchen. Professionally, I look for spaces that inspire, challenge and create a moment for pondering from our guests. I want each person to wonder why the space has meaning for what we are talking about. I want them to have a healthy level of discomfort and an opportunity to create a container for their thoughts as they enter and engage with us at one of our Dialogues.
SPLACER: Was the event a success?
RB: Absolutely. All our Dialogues have an interesting energy about them. No matter what space we are in, much of the energy depends on who is sharing the space with us. For this Dialogue, we brought together artists, urban planners, entrepreneurs, stage designers, writers, developers, and individuals directly working with the City of San Francisco. Each was carefully selected based on their background, relevance to the topic, and appetite for controversy in dialogue. Bringing together these very select minds was a recipe for success, and so, it was.
SPLACER: Do you have any upcoming Dialogues?
RB: We are collaborating with Stanford on a few different opportunities, but I can’t quite go into details yet. I’ll be hosting several client Dialogues later this year, one on topics like “Citizenship” and “Scaling Human Connection through Technology”. All of our topics tie the philosophical, human aspect of culture to something that is either meant to serve as a platform to shift perspectives and create opportunities for collaboration, OR, if working with clients, we tie insights that our Dialogues generate to the client’s business strategy.
SPLACER: What’s your favorite building in San Francisco?
RB: I’m really loving the new SF MoMA. I’m also a big fan of the private art collection at Pier 24 and the several hidden spaces they have there.
SPLACER: What’s your ideal home?
RB: I’m a big fan of modernism and love the combination of nature, rocks, beautiful woods, and modern light. I’m a big fan of John Pawson, Frank Gehry, Stanley Saitowitz.
SPLACER: What’s your favorite exhibition that you’ve been to recently?
RB: I really liked seeing Richard T. Walker’s new exhibit at Fraenkel Lab in San Francisco. Last year, I also enjoyed a Pierre Huyghe exhibit at LACMA.
Words by Katie Roscoe