Maya Hari has made a name for herself as the second woman to lead Twitter’s Asia Pacific operations.
As Vice President for APAC, she is responsible for overseeing the technical processes of the social media company, managing its business units and, increasingly, for socio-political issues.
However, the Indian-born engineer who worked her way up in the tech industry said that reaching that position was aided by the discovery of a “superpower” early in her career.
“While I understood technology and engineering very well, in hindsight my superpower may have been explaining the technology to people who didn’t understand,” Hari told CNBC Make It.
“I realized that I absolutely love technology and that is still my first love to this day, but I could certainly make the best impact I can as a communicator,” she said.
Become a risk taker
Hari said that realization became a “cornerstone” of her career and led her to where she is today.
A trained engineer, she worked in high-tech roles in Silicon Valley for several years before moving to Singapore in 2005 to complete her MBA. She later returned to her native India and worked in marketing and management roles at technology companies for eight years before moving back to Singapore to take on a regional role.
Nowadays, being a woman in engineering is desirable and it opens many doors.
Vice President (APAC), Twitter
She has been on Twitter for the past six years and has held increasingly senior positions.
“Taking that risk at this point made me a person with skills that I brought back to this region that weren’t common,” Hari said of her decision to leave the US and move to Asia.
In fact, “putting yourself in awkward situations” is critical to providing both career opportunities and critical insights, she said.
Opportunities in technology
It didn’t come without challenges. Hari said being a woman in a male-dominated industry has been difficult at times, including being asked about her parenting plans by a potential employer in India. But she insisted the situation get better.
“Today being a woman in the technical field is desirable and it opens many doors, at least for an initial conversation,” said Hari.
You just need to imagine someone you hold to be yourself just a few years before you.
Vice President (APAC), Twitter
“As an industry, it is much more powerful than most,” she said. “If you persevere and hold on in the early days, when the differences between you and your co-workers are most obvious, I think that over time you add value and people look to you for what you add value for.”
For its part, Twitter has stipulated that women should make up 50% of the company’s global workforce by 2025. It is currently 42%.
Advice for prospective women
Hari, herself a mentor, admitted that women still face challenges today – especially in Asia, where traditional societal expectations are high.
However, she shared three pieces of advice for aspiring women.
- Look for a role model
Finding a career role model that you respect and admire is motivating. It’s even better to find someone relatable in your work environment, Hari said. “You have to imagine someone you take to be yourself just a few years before you do. This relativity creates confidence.”
- Have open discussions
Be honest with your managers and stakeholders about your career goals. In the past, Hari said it took her three or four calls to ask for a promotion. But over time, she “built the confidence” to have open chats with her manager and make sure they were on the same page.
- Gamify the process
Speaking can be intimidating, but Hari advised women to make a game of the process. For every meeting or project, set small challenges such as: B. Make a commitment to speak up on every team call. “This process can be very rewarding,” she said.
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