Q: What does it mean to you personally to be named one of the Most Influential Women in Silicon Valley?
Receiving this recognition is such an honor. There are a growing number of influential women based here and those of us being recognized with this award are the tip of the iceberg. I am flattered at being recognized and expect the recognition is really more about Obopay and less about me. Obopay is such a big idea – using the global ubiquity of mobile to bring banking to billions of people who have been unserved by traditional banking business models. Oh, I almost forgot…Obopay is also committed to bringing a new level of convenience to the rest of us – so we all have banking services that empower our life and work.
Q: What do you think the potential is for women in business to lead and make a difference today?
For a while now when asked this question, I have been giving the same answer – the potential is broad and deep. When I started in technology in the 70’s, the industry wasn’t used to women engineers or women leaders. That has all changed now. Plus, we have many new high growth companies – like Obopay, Facebook, Twitter, and many more – that represent great opportunities. If you have the talent and leadership, companies want their employees to step into the role of maximum contribution. So they don’t care what sex, religion, race, or relationships you have. Instead they care about results and market leadership. And they are always asking who among us can take on this new challenge. These are great environments for women to contribute, grow and lead.
In addition, there are also great opportunities in more establish companies and in start up companies. Everyone is more comfortable with women leaders including VC’s, board of directors, peers, even husbands are more comfortable and supportive than ever.
Q: What challenges do you think still exist for women to excel in the workforce today?
In many ways, the challenges are the same for women and men. You have to be good at your job so you need to develop strong competencies. In most situations women don’t have to be better than men to succeed or be recognized. But they do need to learn things that may not come naturally to them. Like fighting a good fight, recognizing organizational obstacles and eliminating them. Most of all, they need to stop worrying about people liking them and worry about doing the right thing.
Q: Having both the CEO and General Counsel from Obopay named Women of Influence in Silicon Valley is quite an accomplishment. What do you think this says about Obopay’s leadership?
It says we have a great leadership team – and that two of those people are women. I am really proud of the strength of our executive team. They are top leaders with extensive mobile and financial services experience. If there was a list of top men or list of top leaders in India – I would expect that we would get on those lists also.
Q: How has Obopay General Counsel, Executive Vice President and Secretary Judy O’Brien made a difference at Obopay?
Judy was a top lawyer – led a large practice at Wilson Sonsini. Then, she became a VC for a few years. She could be general counsel for a large public company or run a large law practice. We are so lucky to have her at Obopay. She is at Obopay, like the rest of the executives, because of the big idea – next generation banking and electronic payments that brings a whole new level of convenience and extends banking to billions.
Judy is also totally committed to building a global company from the start. On her first week at Obopay, we traveled to India to set up the operation there. We knew we wanted to be global, sowhile we are building our business in the US we are also building (on the same platform) our business in India. Now we are also in Africa and talking about expanding in Asia, Europe and Latin America.
Q: What are you most proud of in your career as a female leader?
I am proud of many things. I have been involved with building 3 companies before Obopay. All of them successful. I am proud of raising capital – which is very tough. And most of all, I am proud of Obopay. Before Obopay I thought my career was behind me. When I was traveling in Africa and saw mobile phones in places where infrastructure was weak, I realized my career was in front of me.
Q: If you had one nugget of advice to give young women leaders today, what would that be?
Don’t listen to anyone that tells you “you’re not good enough”. And (just one more)….surround yourself with great advisers and team members. And (just one more please)…dream big.