Inspirational Women in STEM and Tech: Yulia Matiuhin of Entoprotech On The 5 Leadership Lessons She Learned From Her Experience

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Candice Georgiadis
Authority Magazine
Published in
10 min readMar 23, 2022


Ditch your insecurity and draw inspiration from your own personal integrity and your professional and educational foundation. I understand this can be daunting in a male-dominated industry, but it essential. You must know your worth and be sure of yourself to command the respect and admiration of your team.

As a part of my series about “Lessons From Inspirational Women in STEM and Tech”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Yulia Matiuhin, Ph.D.

Yulia Matiuhin is Head of Research and Development at Entoprotech, an Israeli circular economy company that harnesses the power of the Black Soldier Fly to convert food waste into high-quality protein, insect fat (oil), fertilizer. A protein biochemist by trade, Yulia leads a team optimizing use of BSF to process organic waste and innovating to discover new, high-value applications. She also heads up the End Users and Processing Research Group for Israel’s Black Solider Fly consortium, developing innovative biomass and frass processing technologies. Yulia has 10+ years of managerial experience in BioPharma Industry in such therapeutic areas as microbiome diseases (IBD), coagulation, pulmonary disease with particular emphasis on development of innovative solutions. Yulia holds a Ph.D. in Biology, an M.Sc. Summa Cum Laude in Biology, and a B.A. Cum Laude in Molecular Biochemistry from the Technion — Israel Institute of Technology. Yulia is a co-author of seven scientific publications and four patent applications.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Science has always been one of my passions, despite being born into a family of lawyers and engineers. Initially, I had my heart set on becoming a doctor, before realising that I could actually influence more lives through science.

So, I decided to study biochemistry at university, a field focusing on the intersection of biology and chemistry. My official trade is as a protein biochemist, which is so fundamental it can transfer into any field in Biology and especially nicely into my role researching the Black Soldier Fly.

After completing my Ph.D., I considered a post-doctorate and a career in academia, before eventually settling on a career in industry. I’m thankful

every day for this decision as it has led me to the insect sector, an area which I would have never discovered had I gone into academia.

Now, with Entoprotech, I work every day to tap into the full potential of the Black Soldier Fly, attempting to use its magic to solve some of the world’s most pressing issues, such as food waste and climate change.

This role facilities my true passion in life — constantly learning and exploring outside of my comfort zone, and I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to do this every single day I go into the lab.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?

The great thing about working in the insect sector is that it’s full of surprises. As a developing sector, there is still tonnes of stuff to uncover, and you find out new things almost every day.

At Entoprotech, I was totally stunned when we found out that cow manure can be nutritious and nourishing substrate for the Black Soldier Fly. What we humans find disgusting and harmful, these insects eat without hesitation and reap major nutritional benefits.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When studying for my master’s degree, I had the embarrassing experience of destroying a piece of faculty equipment. I had set up the equipment incorrectly and although I desperately tried to fix it, I had to come clean to my supervisor. Tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of top-of-the-range instruments gone up in smoke — I expected some stern words.

To my surprise, my supervisor was totally supportive, stressing to me that ‘mistakes happen,’ and the only way to deal with them is to learn from them.

This event had a profound impact on my development and has shaped much of my research and management style. I encourage my team to take risks, to investigate their hypotheses, and to speak up with their ideas. If they make mistakes, so be it — we will learn from them.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Entoprotech is a unique company in multiple ways. First — the subject matter. We work with an incredible insect to help find sustainable solutions to the global food waste crisis, and to provide food and health benefits to both animals and humans. That is the ultimate goal, and it makes working at Entoprotech both an exciting and rewarding experience.

The second reason is our team structure. We’re a hyper-flexible organisation with a totally flat management structure. I strive to create an inclusive, stimulating environment within my team, where ideas are heard, discussed, and debated. I find that this approach helps me get the most out of each individual and the group, and we achieve far more than if I ran a totalitarian regime.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We’re always working on exciting research at Entoprotech, and it was super cool to see one of these projects come to fruition back in December.

Alongside Professor Betty Schwartz at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, we have been investigating the medical potential of the black soldier fly (BSF), discovering that BSF oil can alleviate symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD) such as Colitis and Crohn’s.

This is ground-breaking news that could transform the lives of millions of IBD sufferers across the world. The next stage is to organise human trials as we move down the path to regulatory approval.

Ok super. Thank you for all that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Are you currently satisfied with the status quo regarding women in STEM? What specific changes do you think are needed to change the status quo?

I don’t think any women in STEM can be satisfied with the status quo. There is significant room for improvement, and the dissatisfaction is certainly not down to the calibre of women in the sector.

In my view, there are systemic issues blocking the development of women in STEM. This starts at the university level where the discrepancy between male and female candidates is too high and needs to be addressed head on. Passive outreach is no longer enough — instead, there must be a concerted effort to pitch this industry to young, aspirational women. Summer camps, high school lectures, webinars and proactive mentors will help young women understand they can be highly successful in this industry and begin reversing the decades of neglect.

I also believe that changes need to occur at a wider societal level, and not just in the STEM industry. Our traditional view of family life must change. Too many women are still expected to run the home and family, while also forging a career. This is incredibly taxing and requires women to work doubly hard just to keep pace with their male counterparts. In this regard, we need a society-wide conversation about balance in the family, and possibly some legislation, to ensure that both fathers and mothers can equally participate in their family and advancing their careers.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women in STEM or Tech that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts? What would you suggest to address this?

As I mentioned above, I believe an excessive burden is placed on women, with them expected both to be the heartbeat of the household and a high-achieving professional.

For example, if a child gets sick and both parents work, the expectation often remains on the mother to take time off from her job to look after the child. Little things like this need to be changed to ensure a more equal distribution of duties fit for 21st century society.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a woman in STEM or Tech. Can you explain what you mean?

There are a couple of really damaging myths surrounding women in STEM and it essential to dispel these if we want to succeed in efforts to open up opportunities for the next generation of female scientists.

First is the myth that women are less competent thinkers than their male counterparts. This is simply untrue. Perhaps women are likely to approach certain tasks in a different way than men, but this is neither universal, nor is it a detrimental tendency. Not once in my career have I felt less able than a male colleague and this is backed up by my success — for example, I am currently leading one of the research group’s in the BSF Consortium — a new national wide research project in Israel.

The second myth is that women are less tough than men and therefore unfit for leadership. Toughness in this regard is such an old-fashioned concept and an outdated leadership approach. To be an effective leader, you don’t need to be stern, hard, or ‘tough’ — you need to be confident in yourself, attentive and inspiring to others, a good thinker and a good listener. To all aspiring scientists out there, don’t let this antiquated myth put you off.

What are your “Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience as a Woman in STEM or Tech” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Be true to your roots. It is essential not to trade your authenticity or integrity to try to conform to the expectations of others. Our strengths lie in our individuality, and this should be cherished. This advice was given to me by a mentor who deeply impacted my life, and it has been the cornerstone of my professional development ever since.
  2. Do your homework. I actually took this lesson from Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who inspires me and epitomised the concept of being an absolute authority in her field. Before you embark on anything, you should do your research and obtain as much knowledge as you can. This will empower you and ensure rock solid confidence in your abilities to handle any difficult questions or unexpected hurdles that life might throw at you.

What advice would you give to other women leaders to help their team to thrive?

Ditch your insecurity and draw inspiration from your own personal integrity and your professional and educational foundation. I understand this can be daunting in a male-dominated industry, but it essential. You must know your worth and be sure of yourself to command the respect and admiration of your team.

What advice would you give to other women leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

Empower those around you. Encourage them to be collaborative, take risks and not to be afraid of failure. When there is failure, support your colleagues and help them to learn and improve.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I have been extremely fortunate to work with two prominent women in the STEM field who had a profound impact on my career.

First is Tammy Ariel, who was my dear colleague in the industry at Protalix. She helped me understand that there are many approaches to management — you don’t have to be tough and aggressive to lead a team. Instead, she focused on empowering her team and treating all as equals, a method that is the foundation of my management style to this day.

Second is Naomi Zack, an incredible scientist, cherishing her professional integrity, and a motherly figure I came across at BiomX. Again, she was an attentive and caring manager who gave me the personal strength to chase my ambitions and believe that I could achieve whatever I set my mind to.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Working with Entoprotech gives me the opportunity to contribute an enormous amount of good to the world. We have ambitious plans to tap into every last drop of potential within the Black Soldier Fly, using it to help solve the global food waste crisis, reduce pressure on our climate, while innovating and providing sustainable and circular feed, cosmetic and medical solutions.

On a personal level, I increasingly proactive in reaching out to talented young women aspiring for a career in STEM. This will include educational initiatives where I can give back as a role model and mentor, helping to reduce the gender inequality we see in STEM today.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

I’d really love to see a movement where we encourage people to think more in terms of a long-term future — thinking at least one generation ahead, but ideally, even further.

This future-looking philosophy influences both the personal and societal spheres, informing how we look after personal health and the health of our family, ensuring you prepare your children with the skills needed to thrive in the future, and of course, thinking about your impact on the environment and the planet.

If every single person aimed to leave the planet in a better place than when they arrived, we would reap huge benefits.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My favorite life lesson is similar to one of the leadership lessons I mentioned early: be yourself.

Instead of trying to conform to certain standards, be true to your roots, and your professional and educational background. Approach decisions, challenges, and adventures based on your own personality and your own instincts. “Be yourself” is a very empowering approach in both business and life which helps provide that innate confidence needed to succeed in any task you take on.

We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)

I would love to sit down with Angela Merkel. As a strong, independent woman with a scientific background, I have always been fascinated by her exceptional approach to politics. Ditching bluster for reason, Angela Merkel relied on her informed, analytical approach to lead Germany, one of the world’s most powerful economies, successfully for 16 years. That is a remarkable feat in today’s world of ultra-polarization.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this!



Candice Georgiadis
Authority Magazine

Candice Georgiadis is an active mother of three as well as a designer, founder, social media expert, and philanthropist.