As a software engineer and entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, Poornima Vijayashanker’s gift for technology isn’t as much an asset as it is a requirement. But it’s the way she uses her talent and ambition to help others that makes her work so exceptional.
While many of us were busy with crayons and blocks, Vijayashanker spent her childhood tinkering with technology and taking apart gadgets at home. Inspired by her upbringing, Vijayashanker went on to double major in electrical engineering and computer science at Duke University. After college, she packed her bags for Silicon Valley to be in the center of tech.
At a time when there were few young people living in Silicon Valley at the time, Vijayashanker became a founding engineer at Mint.com, an online personal finance tool. She went on to start her own successful company, BizeeBee, a startup that helps membership-based businesses expand and thrive.
Another one of Vijayashanker’s great accomplishments is Femgineer, a company that strives to “educate, empower, and encourage” women in tech. “Our long-term goal is to get more women into tech leadership positions,” she said. Through monthly events, online resources, and one-on-one mentoring, Femgineer provides women with strategies to achieve confidence and success in their fields. Vijayashanker counts even the small victories, like when one of her clients called to say she got a promotion using the negotiation skills she learned at a Femgineer event.
Vijayashanker wants people to use her startups as “tools to lead a richer life.” Her companies have already made an impact in the world. Through them she has helped families manage their finances, opened doors for women in tech and turned the dreams of small business owners into realities. In the future, she says she hopes to “continue to build companies and products she believes in, and see those things grow.”
“I have seen and experienced so many benefits of technology in terms of improving the quality of human life,” says Vijayashanker, “It’s amazing to see the different aspects of life in which tech makes a positive impact.”
Poornima Vijayashanker’s talk for the 2014 TEDxNavesink conference, “Taking the Time to Tinker”, will explore the importance of play in technological development and innovation.