Notorious for being distinctly male dominated, the technology industry is now seeing increasing numbers of women helping to shape its future. And in a recent piece for Carmen-backed luxury online retailer Moda Operandi, Senior Fashion Writer Tatiana Hambro interviewed four of Silicon Valley’s new breed of tech titan, who we profile here…
Ruzwana Bashir - Co-Founder & CEO, Peek.com
When you consider that female-led start-ups only received 2% of VC dollars in 2017, Ruzwana Bashir’s achievements sound even more impressive. The co-founder and CEO of Peek.com has raised about $40 million to date for her online travel tours and activities marketplace, and from high-profile backers including Eric Schmidt and Jack Dorsey. Her company now also has over 100 employees, and boasts hundreds of millions of dollars in activities bookings.
Born to Pakistani immigrant parents in Yorkshire, England, Bashir earned a scholarship to Oxford and went on to work in finance before realizing that being an entrepreneur was her true calling, so she secured a second scholarship for Harvard Business School where she gained her MBA. Like most of the best ideas, the inspiration for Peek.com came from a problem that needed solving - in this case Bashir had spent more than 20 hours organizing a girls' trip to Istanbul – and in 2012 she created her online platform that not only helps travelers discover the best local activities which they can then book within seconds, but also assists companies on the back-end, by giving them the tools to transition online.
“Nothing that is worth doing is ever easy,” Bashir told Hambro. “The roles that push you out of your comfort zone are the ones where you learn the most and really empower yourself.”
Kirsten Green - Founder & Managing Partner, Forerunner Ventures
“I played by all the rules, I worked as hard as I could, everyone told me I was doing a good job - and then my job was gone!” Former analyst Kirsten Green explained how a company restructure left her without a job, and that it was this career bombshell that forced her to rethink her work future. And now, as the founding partner of early stage investment firm Forerunner Ventures, she is one of the world’s leading VCs, and one of the few women in the start-up sphere.
Her past experience has given her the courage to do things differently, and Green is responsible for spearheading real change in the industry, scouting and identifying new generation companies including Glossier, Bonobos, Jet.com and Hims. Also worthy of note is the fact that about 40% of the company’s portfolio is female or minority-led. “We are trying to invest in the companies that are shaping tomorrow,” said Green, “and tomorrow looks like a very diversified audience.”
Leslie Berland, Chief Marketing Officer & Head of People, Twitter
“What’s happening in the world” was the tagline behind the dramatic rebrand of Twitter in 2016, and was the handiwork of Leslie Berland. As the company’s former Chief Marketing Officer she was tasked with redefining the platform’s place and purpose in order to remain relevant in the age of Instagram, and her series of campaigns featuring figures from the worlds of sport, politics and culture made a bold impact.
Not only an expert storyteller - in 2012 Fast Company placed her sixth in it’s 100 Most Creative People in Business issue – Berland’s relatable and approachable persona now see her overseeing human resources as well as marketing. Responsible for coining the hashtags #LoveWhereYouWork and #LoveWhoYouWorkWith, she has also redesigned the Twitter offices in order to foster a warmer atmosphere, and in today’s cultural climate, her career advice is refreshing: “Lead with your heart.”
Tina Bhatnagar, VP, Operations and Technology, Coinbase
Previously responsible for customer support at Twitter, where in just over five years her team of 20 grew to thousands across the globe handling millions of support tickets a month, Tina Bhatnagar now runs operations at San Francisco-based Coinbase. The world’s leading cryptocurrency platform is on a democratic mission to “create an open, more equitable financial system that will bring financial freedom to the world”, a mission that chimes with Bhatnagar's own desire to make a positive global impact.
Crediting her early consulting roles as a great way to get acquainted with every part of business - “By the time I was 25, I’d done everything from installing cables in a data center to managing multimillion-dollar budgets” – this early experience has also informed the career advice she gives today to new hires, stressing the importance of “always pushing yourself to keep learning”. Another of her nuggets is “Be unapologetically you,” advice she herself received from a mentor. “I was really lucky to have amazing mentors who built me up,” she said, “and that’s what I try to do for my teams.”
Read the full article on Moda Operandi here.