What is your current role and where do you work?
I am a tech entrepreneur and MBA candidate the The Wharton School where I am studying finance and entrepreneurial management. I’m the CEO/Founder of Watotolly, a technology company that offers busy parents the ability to connect and exchange babysitting services within trusted networks in a way that is affordable and convenient. I also manage the MBA Mama blog, I have two children and am committed to a career at the intersection of technology, entrepreneurship and venture capital. I have experience in law, non-profit and investment management, consulting and impact investing.
How did you get into tech?
I’ve always been interested in how technology can improve how we live and work. I got hooked on social media as one of Facebook’s first users during my undergraduate days at the Univ. of Southern California. When I launched MBA Mama in 2015 and we began to gain traction, I started to consider myself a tech entrepreneur.
What’s your favorite technology to work with and why?
Without a doubt, my iPhone. As a busy entrepreneur, single mom and full-time grad student, I am maniacal about my calendar and my iPhone keeps me on track to manage my time in an efficient manner. I use my phone to make calls, stay on top of email, coordinate my transportation, and pay for things. When I am traveling or away from home for work, I usually Facetime my daughter who lives in Philadelphia with me, and I Skype my son who lives in Uganda with family. I often take photos of receipts and business cards on my phone so I can better keep track of items I might otherwise misplace not to mention I take iconic selfies.
What project are you most proud to have worked on and why?
MBAMama.com is my proudest project. We have more than 10,000 users and have touched the lives of ambitious women in the UK, China, and Nigeria. Our content increases the visibility of ambitious career moms and gives women the confidence to pursue their career goals and navigate family and career planning.
I’m proud of it for two reasons. First, I said I was going to do something and I followed all the way through on it. I’m always doing something outside of my 9 to 5, and this was a good way to get a quick win. Second, people actually read it and got something from it! I’ve had quite a few people, even those not interested in an MBA, message me saying that it helped them get some direction.
What do you see as the most interesting technology on the horizon?
Virtual reality and augmented reality
If you weren’t working in tech, what would you be doing?
I would definitely still be an entrepreneur, even if the focus of my company was not tech. My dream is to build and scale a company and upon a lucrative and successful exit, I plan to start my own venture fund focusing on female founders and underrepresented minority entrepreneurs. Overall, I am committed to a career at the intersection of technology, entrepreneurship and venture capital.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in your tech career?
As a founder and product manager, I cannot try to be everything to everybody. While scale is important, it is critical to know what you’re building and who your customer is. One angel investor I met recently advised me not to “try to boil the ocean” by overextending the scope of my business.
What can companies do to create more inclusive environments?
1. Be intentional about creating a culture where work-life integration is a priority
2. Provide clear channels for providing and tracking feedback
3. Give people the space to bring their authentic selves to work
4. Foster culture of creativity rather than compliance
5. Dedicate finances and other resources to affinity groups – encourage mentor-mentee relationships that cut across lines of gender, race/ethnicity, etc.
What keeps you busy when you’re not being a technologist?
Being a mother to ten year old, Shafiq and 4 year old Nyah. My children mean the world to me, and I love being a mom. In my view, there is no greater leadership role than parenthood. Instilling values and cultivating culture, motivating my children to excel, negotiations, and managing all the responsibilities that come with parenthood are tests of leadership every single day. I regularly blog about my experiences on mbamama.com.