C A R E E R  F I L E S :
SILICON VALLEY
Though Silicon Valley can at times be synonymous with the male key players in the technology industry, there are plenty of women creating change, too. Tatiana Hambro meets four of them.

C A R E E R  F I L E S :
SILICON VALLEY
Though Silicon Valley can at times be synonymous with the male key players in the technology industry, there are plenty of women creating change, too. Tatiana Hambro meets four of them.

Ruzwana Bashir, Co-Founder & CEO, Peek.com 
THE ENTREPRENEUR WHO’S TAKING THE “PLANNING” OUT OF YOUR VACATION 

Fact: the worst part about a fantastic vacation is the laborious research required to plan it. After spending over 20 hours organizing a girls trip to Istanbul, “travel junkie” Ruzwana Bashir decided to change that. In 2012 she created Peek.com, a one-stop destination for travelers to discover the best activities and book them within seconds (it’s so good that locals are using it, too). Peek also helps companies on the back-end, by giving them the tools to transition online. To date, Bashir has raised about $40 million, some of which comes from high-profile backers including Eric Schmidt and Jack Dorsey. When you consider that female-led startups only received 2% of VC dollars in 2017, it sounds even more impressive.

Bashir has always been a force to be reckoned with and not someone limited by circumstance. Born to Pakistani immigrant parents in Yorkshire, England, she earned a scholarship to Oxford (and while there became the 2nd Asian woman to be President of the Oxford Union debating society). After university, Bashir worked in finance before realizing she wanted to be an entrepreneur—so she secured another scholarship (this time a Fulbright) to Harvard Business School for her MBA. She makes it all look easy—that’s part of the job—but behind her every success is pure old-fashioned hard work and sheer determination. “Nothing that is worth doing is ever easy,” she says. “The roles that push you out of your comfort zone are the ones where you learn the most and really empower yourself.”

Ruzwana Bashir, Co-Founder & CEO, Peek.com 
THE ENTREPRENEUR WHO’S TAKING THE “PLANNING” OUT OF YOUR VACATION 

Fact: the worst part about a fantastic vacation is the laborious research required to plan it. After spending over 20 hours organizing a girls trip to Istanbul, “travel junkie” Ruzwana Bashir decided to change that. In 2012 she created Peek.com, a one-stop destination for travelers to discover the best activities and book them within seconds (it’s so good that locals are using it, too). Peek also helps companies on the back-end, by giving them the tools to transition online. To date, Bashir has raised about $40 million, some of which comes from high-profile backers including Eric Schmidt and Jack Dorsey. When you consider that female-led startups only received 2% of VC dollars in 2017, it sounds even more impressive.

Bashir has always been a force to be reckoned with and not someone limited by circumstance. Born to Pakistani immigrant parents in Yorkshire, England, she earned a scholarship to Oxford (and while there became the 2nd Asian woman to be President of the Oxford Union debating society). After university, Bashir worked in finance before realizing she wanted to be an entrepreneur—so she secured another scholarship (this time a Fulbright) to Harvard Business School for her MBA. She makes it all look easy—that’s part of the job—but behind her every success is pure old-fashioned hard work and sheer determination. “Nothing that is worth doing is ever easy,” she says. “The roles that push you out of your comfort zone are the ones where you learn the most and really empower yourself.”

As a child, what did you want to be "when you grew up"? 
A lawyer-cum-detective like Perry Mason.

What do you love most about your job? 
That I get to work with some of the smartest, most passionate people I've ever met, in a space that I’m really excited about (I’m a travel junkie!). 

What do you dislike about your job?
As a startup there’s constant change and it can be a real rollercoaster–with big highs and lows, which makes it very stressful.  

What was the best advice you ever received?  
To be persistent. Nothing that is worth doing is ever easy.

What advice would you give someone today?  
Dream bigger and take risks early in your career rather than playing it safe. There is definitely a balance between risk and reward, and the roles or opportunities that push you out of your comfort zones are the ones where you learn the most and really empower yourself.


“The best things happen when you’re
willing to create your own path.”



How would other people describe what you do? Do people “get” your job?
The CEO mainly steps in to do the things others don’t want to take on, or that are very challenging. People probably think being a CEO is more exciting than it is—it’s often just hours of emails and meetings!
 
Name 3 characteristics required to do your job well.
Passion for your company mission with the skills to communicate that well; the ability to synthesize lots of information and make decisions swiftly; awareness and empathy.
 
What is your greatest achievement to date?
Building Peek.com to over 100 employees and hundreds of millions of dollars of activities bookings. It’s really fulfilling to know we’ve helped millions of people to find fun adventures to do with their friends and family, to create special memories that last a lifetime.
 
How do you define success?
The positive impact we can have on the world, and on those around us.

As a child, what did you want to be "when you grew up"? 
A lawyer-cum-detective like Perry Mason.

What do you love most about your job? 
That I get to work with some of the smartest, most passionate people I've ever met, in a space that I’m really excited about (I’m a travel junkie!). 

What do you dislike about your job?
As a startup there’s constant change and it can be a real rollercoaster–with big highs and lows, which makes it very stressful.  

What was the best advice you ever received?  
To be persistent. Nothing that is worth doing is ever easy.

What advice would you give someone today?  
Dream bigger and take risks early in your career rather than playing it safe. There is definitely a balance between risk and reward, and the roles or opportunities that push you out of your comfort zones are the ones where you learn the most and really empower yourself.


“The best things happen when you’re
willing to create your own path.”



How would other people describe what you do? Do people “get” your job?
The CEO mainly steps in to do the things others don’t want to take on, or that are very challenging. People probably think being a CEO is more exciting than it is—it’s often just hours of emails and meetings!
 
Name 3 characteristics required to do your job well.
Passion for your company mission with the skills to communicate that well; the ability to synthesize lots of information and make decisions swiftly; awareness and empathy.
 
What is your greatest achievement to date?
Building Peek.com to over 100 employees and hundreds of millions of dollars of activities bookings. It’s really fulfilling to know we’ve helped millions of people to find fun adventures to do with their friends and family, to create special memories that last a lifetime.
 
How do you define success?
The positive impact we can have on the world, and on those around us.

Shop Ruzwana's Picks

Kirsten Green, Founder & Managing Partner, Forerunner Ventures 
THE INVESTOR WHO BACKED GLOSSIER WHEN NO ONE ELSE WOULD 

How do you become one of the most successful women in Silicon Valley? By having the courage to do things differently. As the founding partner of Forerunner Ventures, an early stage investment firm, Kirsten Green scouts and identifies companies that are going to break the mold—and earn millions (if not billions) doing so. See Glossier, Bonobos, Jet.com, Hims and plenty of others you’ve already heard of as recent examples.

Today, the 46-year-old epitomizes the hyper-dynamic, open-minded type who seems to thrive in the startup world, one that requires a sense of agility to succeed. But she wasn’t always so flexible in her thinking. As a young analyst, Green thought she had it all figured out until a company restructure left her without the job she wanted. “I was totally offended,” she recalls. “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!”
 
Having the rug pulled out from under her at such a crucial point in her career forced Green to recalibrate. Fast forward to now and the married mom of two is one of the world’s leading VCs. As one of few women with a seat at the table, Green offers a fresh perspective (she famously backed Glossier founder Emily Weiss when no one else would because, as a woman, she could intimately relate to the company’s mission). As such, she’s spearheading real change: about 40% of Forerunners’ portfolio is female or minority-led. “We are trying to invest in the companies that are shaping tomorrow,” says Green, “and tomorrow looks like a very diversified audience.”

Kirsten Green, Founder & Managing Partner, Forerunner Ventures 
THE INVESTOR WHO BACKED GLOSSIER WHEN NO ONE ELSE WOULD 

How do you become one of the most successful women in Silicon Valley? By having the courage to do things differently. As the founding partner of Forerunner Ventures, an early stage investment firm, Kirsten Green scouts and identifies companies that are going to break the mold—and earn millions (if not billions) doing so. See Glossier, Bonobos, Jet.com, Hims and plenty of others you’ve already heard of as recent examples.

Today, the 46-year-old epitomizes the hyper-dynamic, open-minded type who seems to thrive in the startup world, one that requires a sense of agility to succeed. But she wasn’t always so flexible in her thinking. As a young analyst, Green thought she had it all figured out until a company restructure left her without the job she wanted. “I was totally offended,” she recalls. “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!”
 
Having the rug pulled out from under her at such a crucial point in her career forced Green to recalibrate. Fast forward to now and the married mom of two is one of the world’s leading VCs. As one of few women with a seat at the table, Green offers a fresh perspective (she famously backed Glossier founder Emily Weiss when no one else would because, as a woman, she could intimately relate to the company’s mission). As such, she’s spearheading real change: about 40% of Forerunners’ portfolio is female or minority-led. “We are trying to invest in the companies that are shaping tomorrow,” says Green, “and tomorrow looks like a very diversified audience.”

In your own words, please describe what you do?
Invest behind and partner with ambitious company founders looking to challenge business norms through bringing new products and services to life. 

As a child, what did you want to be "when you grew up"?
An architect. 

What do you love most about your job?  
I learn every day. And I get to do this working in partnership with a group of passion-driven leaders who are challenging norms, as well as themselves, their teams and me in new ways, constantly.  
 
What do you dislike about your job?  
I prefer quality over quantity, in general. That said, my job and role at Forerunner requires a certain amount of “quantity” (lots of meetings, lots of people, lots of decisions), making bandwidth an extremely precious resource.  

“There are periods of ‘paying your dues’ and others of great opportunity, and that dance goes on throughout.”
 

What was the best advice you ever received?  
Own your decisions.  
 
What advice would you give someone today?  
Be patient, while staying directed. Careers don’t evolve linearly; there are periods of “paying your dues” and others of great opportunity, and that dance goes on throughout. You have to stick with things long enough to reach new step-changes in your own development and opportunity set.   

Describe 3 characteristics required to do your job well.   
Curiosity, original thinking, interpersonal skills.
 
What is your greatest achievement to date?    
Staying true to myself and sticking with dreams long enough to see them happen. 
 
How do you define success?  
Having a reputation as a colleague, partner and friend consistent with the person I strive to be.

In your own words, please describe what you do?
Invest behind and partner with ambitious company founders looking to challenge business norms through bringing new products and services to life. 

As a child, what did you want to be "when you grew up"?
An architect. 

What do you love most about your job?  
I learn every day. And I get to do this working in partnership with a group of passion-driven leaders who are challenging norms, as well as themselves, their teams and me in new ways, constantly.  
 
What do you dislike about your job?  
I prefer quality over quantity, in general. That said, my job and role at Forerunner requires a certain amount of “quantity” (lots of meetings, lots of people, lots of decisions), making bandwidth an extremely precious resource.  

“There are periods of ‘paying your dues’ and others of great opportunity, and that dance goes on throughout.”
 

What was the best advice you ever received?  
Own your decisions.  
 
What advice would you give someone today?  
Be patient, while staying directed. Careers don’t evolve linearly; there are periods of “paying your dues” and others of great opportunity, and that dance goes on throughout. You have to stick with things long enough to reach new step-changes in your own development and opportunity set.   

Describe 3 characteristics required to do your job well.   
Curiosity, original thinking, interpersonal skills.
 
What is your greatest achievement to date?    
Staying true to myself and sticking with dreams long enough to see them happen. 
 
How do you define success?  
Having a reputation as a colleague, partner and friend consistent with the person I strive to be.

Shop Kirsten's Picks

Leslie Berland, Chief Marketing Officer & Head of People, Twitter
THIS MARKETER IS GIVING TWITTER ITS MOJO BACK
 
What is Twitter, exactly? That’s the first question Leslie Berland had to address when she took up her post as Chief Marketing Officer in 2016—and it was no small undertaking. With the rise of Instagram, Twitter needed to redefine its place and purpose (social network? watercooler? newsource?) in order to remain relevant. She ultimately chose to define Twitter as “What’s happening in the world,” and launched a series of bold campaigns to make the point (including an amusing video starring musicians Chance The Rapper and David Crosby among other figures across sports, politics and culture). The dramatic rebrand required an expert storyteller and Berland was exactly that, having honed her skills at American Express where she launched the giant’s first social strategies. By the time she left Amex after almost 11 years, she was one of the most respected figures in media (in 2012, Fast Company placed her sixth in it’s 100 Most Creative People in Business issue). 

Berland’s impact hasn’t only been outward-facing: she's equally focused on telling stories internally to Twitter's 3,800 employees. In 2017 her job expanded to include Head of People, and Berland devotes much of her energy into fostering the warm #LoveWhereYouWork environment that Twitter is known for. Ask anyone who’s worked with her and they’ll tell you how relatable and approachable she is (no closed-door policy here). In today’s cultural climate, her career advice is poignant and offers a new roadmap for success: “Lead with your heart.”

Leslie Berland, Chief Marketing Officer & Head of People, Twitter
THIS MARKETER IS GIVING TWITTER ITS MOJO BACK
 
What is Twitter, exactly? That’s the first question Leslie Berland had to address when she took up her post as Chief Marketing Officer in 2016—and it was no small undertaking. With the rise of Instagram, Twitter needed to redefine its place and purpose (social network? watercooler? newsource?) in order to remain relevant. She ultimately chose to define Twitter as “What’s happening in the world,” and launched a series of bold campaigns to make the point (including an amusing video starring musicians Chance The Rapper and David Crosby among other figures across sports, politics and culture). The dramatic rebrand required an expert storyteller and Berland was exactly that, having honed her skills at American Express where she launched the giant’s first social strategies. By the time she left Amex after almost 11 years, she was one of the most respected figures in media (in 2012, Fast Company placed her sixth in it’s 100 Most Creative People in Business issue). 

Berland’s impact hasn’t only been outward-facing: she's equally focused on telling stories internally to Twitter's 3,800 employees. In 2017 her job expanded to include Head of People, and Berland devotes much of her energy into fostering the warm #LoveWhereYouWork environment that Twitter is known for. Ask anyone who’s worked with her and they’ll tell you how relatable and approachable she is (no closed-door policy here). In today’s cultural climate, her career advice is poignant and offers a new roadmap for success: “Lead with your heart.”

As a child, what did you want to be "when you grew up"? 
A rock star (sans talent), a psychologist, a talk show host.

What do you love most about your job?  
The people. #LoveWhoYouWorkWith.
 
What was the best advice you ever received?  
Lead with your heart.

How would you describe your personal style?  
Unintentional. I used to wear stilettos daily. Twitter turned me into a flats girl by necessity.

Describe 3 characteristics required to do your job well.   
High energy, high EQ, ability to prioritize what matters most.
 
What is your greatest achievement to date?    
My two sons. 
 
How do you define success?   
I define my success by the health and happiness of my kids. Comparatively, nothing else matters.

As a child, what did you want to be "when you grew up"? 
A rock star (sans talent), a psychologist, a talk show host.

What do you love most about your job?  
The people. #LoveWhoYouWorkWith.
 
What was the best advice you ever received?  
Lead with your heart.

How would you describe your personal style?  
Unintentional. I used to wear stilettos daily. Twitter turned me into a flats girl by necessity.

Describe 3 characteristics required to do your job well.   
High energy, high EQ, ability to prioritize what matters most.
 
What is your greatest achievement to date?    
My two sons. 
 
How do you define success?   
I define my success by the health and happiness of my kids. Comparatively, nothing else matters.

Shop Leslie's Picks

Tina Bhatnagar, VP, Operations and Technology, Coinbase
THIS OPS EXEC IS BRINGING CRYPTOCURRENCY TO THE WORLD 

Tina Bhatnagar  is exceedingly efficient, the type of person who goes to SoulCycle, cooks breakfast at home, drops her kid off at school and still makes it to the office in time for a meeting at 9am—sharp. She treats her mornings much like she does any problem she’s trying to solve: by breaking it down into manageable tasks and methodically working her way through them, a lesson she learned growing up. “My dad taught me that the best way to tackle challenges is in pieces,” she says. 

It’s exactly this approach that enabled her to scale the customer support team while working at Twitter. In just over five years, her team of 20 people (working in a basement) grew to over thousands of people across the world who handled millions of support tickets a month. Bhatnagar now runs operations at Coinbase, the world’s leading cryptocurrency platform. To those less familiar with “crypto,” Coinbase may seem like Wall Street for the tech-savvy. However, the company is actually on a democratic mission to “create an open, more equitable financial system that will bring financial freedom to the world.” And it’s that mission that means the most to Bhatnagar. “I could never work for a company that's not making a positive global impact,” she explains. “Otherwise, I’d rather be spending that time with my kid.”

Tina Bhatnagar, VP, Operations and Technology, Coinbase
THIS OPS EXEC IS BRINGING CRYPTOCURRENCY TO THE WORLD 

Tina Bhatnagar  is exceedingly efficient, the type of person who goes to SoulCycle, cooks breakfast at home, drops her kid off at school and still makes it to the office in time for a meeting at 9am—sharp. She treats her mornings much like she does any problem she’s trying to solve: by breaking it down into manageable tasks and methodically working her way through them, a lesson she learned growing up. “My dad taught me that the best way to tackle challenges is in pieces,” she says. 

It’s exactly this approach that enabled her to scale the customer support team while working at Twitter. In just over five years, her team of 20 people (working in a basement) grew to over thousands of people across the world who handled millions of support tickets a month. Bhatnagar now runs operations at Coinbase, the world’s leading cryptocurrency platform. To those less familiar with “crypto,” Coinbase may seem like Wall Street for the tech-savvy. However, the company is actually on a democratic mission to “create an open, more equitable financial system that will bring financial freedom to the world.” And it’s that mission that means the most to Bhatnagar. “I could never work for a company that's not making a positive global impact,” she explains. “Otherwise, I’d rather be spending that time with my kid.”

How did you get your start?
I started my career in consulting, which is an amazing 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. 

As a child, what did you want to be "when you grew up"?
So many things, but mostly a dancer. 

What do you love most about your job?
In some way, shape or form, operations touches everyone, so you stay incredibly plugged in. Another thing I love is that people I hire are early in their career; it’s so rewarding to be able to engage bright young people and help shape their career paths in whatever way they dream of. 

What do you dislike about your job?
You always have to be “on.” While I enjoy that, at some point it can catch up to you.

What was the best advice you ever received?
A mentor told me, “Be unapologetically you.” Early in my career, I felt comfortable asking questions—even if it might sound dumb. I was really lucky to have amazing mentors who built me up, and that’s what I try to do for my teams: no dumb questions, be bold and undeniably unapologetic in the way that you are. 

What would you advise someone today?
Take chances and if you’re bored, get out. Always push yourself to keep learning, because growth happens when you’re uncomfortable. If you want a raise, ask for a raise. If you want to do something different, ask for it. This is especially true for women. I’ve hired thousands of people in my career, and women don't negotiate as much when they come to the table. My advice: fight the urge to be passive and ask for what you want.

Describe 3 characteristics required to do your job well.
Stamina, perseverance, and being a people person. In operations you work long hours, slog through hard problems and you need to be able to rally a large group of people.

What is your greatest achievement to date?
My daughter.

How did you get your start?
I started my career in consulting, which is an amazing 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. 

As a child, what did you want to be "when you grew up"?
So many things, but mostly a dancer. 

What do you love most about your job?
In some way, shape or form, operations touches everyone, so you stay incredibly plugged in. Another thing I love is that people I hire are early in their career; it’s so rewarding to be able to engage bright young people and help shape their career paths in whatever way they dream of. 

What do you dislike about your job?
You always have to be “on.” While I enjoy that, at some point it can catch up to you.

What was the best advice you ever received?
A mentor told me, “Be unapologetically you.” Early in my career, I felt comfortable asking questions—even if it might sound dumb. I was really lucky to have amazing mentors who built me up, and that’s what I try to do for my teams: no dumb questions, be bold and undeniably unapologetic in the way that you are. 

What would you advise someone today?
Take chances and if you’re bored, get out. Always push yourself to keep learning, because growth happens when you’re uncomfortable. If you want a raise, ask for a raise. If you want to do something different, ask for it. This is especially true for women. I’ve hired thousands of people in my career, and women don't negotiate as much when they come to the table. My advice: fight the urge to be passive and ask for what you want.

Describe 3 characteristics required to do your job well.
Stamina, perseverance, and being a people person. In operations you work long hours, slog through hard problems and you need to be able to rally a large group of people.

What is your greatest achievement to date?
My daughter.

Shop Workwear

Shop more: 9-to-5 chic in our edit of Wardrobe Staples

Shop more: 9-to-5 chic in our edit of Wardrobe Staples