#WomenInTech | 5 Women from Silicon Valley talk about what got them...

#WomenInTech | 5 Women from Silicon Valley talk about what got them into Technology.


Sharon.1. Sharon Morad is an entrepreneur and technologist currently pursuing her MBA at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. She is passionate about developing new products that impact people’s daily lives, including consumer electronics, STEM, and Internet of Things (IoT) products and solutions.

Sharon has a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Southern California and a M.S. in Engineering Management from Santa Clara University. Prior to attending the GSB, Sharon led new product development at Amazon Lab126.

“My mom always likes to share this story about my curiosity when I was a baby. As I was learning how to crawl and stand up, what interested me most were the mechanical items — I was always gravitating to things I could take apart.

I was fortunate to be surrounded by tech growing up, and I think that the culmination of my childhood experiences, from building a solar car in middle school to living in Silicon Valley, nourished the curiosity and passion that got me into tech.

One of my first memories as a child is climbing into the MRI machine, which my dad was developing at the time. This massive off-white machine that magically saw inside people in ways I couldn’t imagine possible exhilarated me!

I was always intrigued by how things work, why they are designed a specific way, and how they can be improved. Designing solutions for people that create new, seamless experiences excites me. I love observing something that has always been done the same way for years be disrupted with a new sensation.”

Read her full story here. 

Parisa.2. Parisa Tabriz is Google’s “Security Princess” — that’s her real job title.

She has worked on information security at Google for more than 8 years, starting as a “hired hacker” software engineer for Google’s security team. As an engineer, she found and closed security holes in Google’s web applications and taught other engineers how to do the same.

Today, Parisa manages Google’s Chrome security engineering team, whose goal is to make Chrome the most secure browser, and more generally, improve security of the web. In 2012, she was selected by Forbes as one of the 30 under 30 pioneers in technology and has the somewhat rare distinction of being profiled by both ELLE and Wired in the same year. In 2014, she used her vacation to work with the White House U.S. Digital Service to enhance security of government technology.

“I’ve always enjoyed making things, design, and the arts, and that led to teaching myself web development basics (HTML, Javascript, CSS) in college, primarily from reading free tutorials online. Learning how to make web sites was a cheap and fast way to express myself creatively since it didn’t require any art supplies. Also, I discovered that coding was a really powerful tool for creation.

At some point, one of my websites got hacked, and I wanted to understand what happened, so I started researching more about web security. I also got involved in an awesome club with other students interested in information security and hacking. We would teach each other about hacking techniques we were learning ourselves, and do security projects for fun. I’m still friends with a lot of those people today!

Given my amateur interest in computer security, I interned at Sandia National Labs in their cyber security research lab and got more experience doing research and exposure to wireless networking. Working at Sandia with full-time employees made me realize I could actually do this as a career, so I continued to get more project experience, and ultimately an offer at Google.”

Read the full story here.

Omosola Odetunde.3. Omosola Odetunde is currently a Software Engineer at Shopify on its Fraud & Risk team. She couldn’t choose between her wide range of interests, including security, privacy, linguistics, psychology, and lots in between, so she chose Computer Science so she wouldn’t have to.

She earned her BS and MS Computer Science degrees from Stanford in 2013 and 2014, respectively. She was a KPCBEngineering Fellow, an AAUW Fellow, and a Google Anita Borg scholar amongst other honors and worked for a variety of companies including Microsoft, Chegg, Shopkick, and Babbel.

She’s filled with a constant urge to do big things and try to positively impact the world around her as much as possible during her lifetime.

“My interest in CS started with educational software. My first memory of computers was sitting at my family’s computer at age 6 and playing my favorite game, “Smiley Face Subtraction.” My parents probably lucked out to some degree that they had a six year old whose favorite game was Subtraction.

My teachers saw my interest in computer games pretty quickly and pounced on it after they realized I was very talkative and finished my work quickly, a deadly combination for an elementary school teacher. To make sure I didn’t distract other students, my teachers would put me in front of the computer and let me play games after I finished my work. The more I played the games, the more I loved how fun and interactive they made learning.

In middle school, one of my classmate’s parents who was a software engineer at Oracle came to our class and taught us about the parts of a computer in a fun play where I played the Computer Bus. That was when I first started getting a sense that this whole computing thing was actually a thing. It felt awesome learning about the inner workings of something that I used every day, and I had to find out more.

From there I took any chance I could to learn more about technology. I took a tech module in 7th grade, a web design class in 8th, my first official Computer Science class in 10th grade, AP Comp Sci A & AB in 11th and 12th grade, and never stopped taking CS classes from that year on until I graduated with my Masters.”

Read the full story here. 

Sophie.4. Sophie Xie is a designer of well-loved mobile products. Recently she spearheaded Stickers on Facebook Messenger and led design at WillCall, a live events app acquired by Ticketfly. Currently she works on independent projects in San Francisco.

Before coming to the Bay, she tinkered in prototyping Windows Phone at Microsoft Research. Sophie earned a B.S. in Cognitive Science & Computing from UCLA where she published research with UCLA Learning Technology.

“I was an indoor kid who changed schools a lot and spent free time abusing the extreme liberties of 90’s web publishing. I loved skinning Geocities, Winamp, Livejournal, later OSX.

I formally learned to code in college during the heady (bubble-lettered?) beginning of Web 2.0. Of everything the consumer Internet made possible, software engineering never fascinated me the most. But with college tunnel-vision, being a code savant felt like table stakes.”

Read her full story here. 

Jan Chong

5. Jan is a Senior Engineering Manager at Twitter, where she owns development of Twitter for Android and Twitter’s mobile development infrastructure. Prior to joining Twitter in 2012, Jan ran client and server development at OnLive, a cloud gaming platform. Jan graduated from Stanford with a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Computer Science and a doctorate in Management Science and Engineering. In 2013, Jan was named one of 21 Rising Technical Superstars by Hackbright Academy.

“I got into Computer Science in college. I’d arrived at school as a freshman thinking I would double major in art history and engineering, but a couple months in, it became pretty clear that I was having the most fun in my CS classes. There’s something beautiful about weaving together a set of logical primitives and creating something complex out of them that I never get tired of.

Being in Silicon Valley also did not hurt. Tech is everywhere and when I first got here, the ubiquity was inspiring. I felt like I’d found home. The first time I drove down 101 and saw the billboards advertising Oracle databases, I remember being so excited that something that nerdy warranted a billboard.”

Read her full story here.

This article has been adapted from the Women of Silicon Valley series. You can find them on Medium and Facebook.

If you’re a woman entrepreneur, and would like to share your story with us, write to us at blog@letsintern.com for a possible feature. 




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