Adriana is the founder and CEO of Girls in Tech, a non-profit organization, which she launched in February 2007. As a woman in tech, Adriana’s passion lies in bolstering opportunities around the empowerment, engagement and education of women in tech.
She recently launched Singapore-based start-up, HelpLearn.Asia, an eLearning platform for small and medium-sized businesses.
My Definition Of Success | Success is finding fulfilment in achieving specific milestones in life that directly align with my passion and purpose. As a child, success was driven by recognition from a teacher or parent and as an adult success is driven by the discovery of one’s passion and purpose and how that is directly correlated to the positive impact and progress made.
A Key Talent | Empowerment. The Girls in Tech organization was created on a foundation of empowerment and the motto “don’t ask for permission, ask for forgiveness.” I believe that every individual on this planet carries unique talents; creative expertise and an active imagination based on personal experiences, education and influences and as such, should be encouraged to leverage these assets whenever possible. In building Girls in Tech, I have built trust amongst each chapter Managing Director and their Boards to extend the curriculum, programming as well as the brand to create a more effective, comprehensive movement. Each chapter team is empowered to make their own decisions about program implementation and customization.
Dealing With Doubt | I call my Mom and Dad or a very close friend. I find it soothing and therapeutic to share detailed information about difficult situations or emotional setbacks with those who are closest to me. I doubted myself the most when I had to pitch a series of VCs for a startup that I was building with my partner. I had little knowledge about the process, how much to ask for, how much equity to give, the valuation of the company, realistic revenue projections, how much salary to take as a CEO, etc. I felt naked in a room full of 50+ year-old men. I handled the situation by being honest. I told them that this was the first time I have had to fund raise and if I wasn’t sure about something, I would have to ask an advisor or my legal counsel and get back to them. While that wasn’t an ideal answer it was better than lying or being disingenuous. The company ended up getting funded.
Performing At My Peak | While “always” performing at one’s peak is literally impossible, I focus on three things to keep my mind fresh:
1. Exercise daily
2. Drink raw juice everyday
3. Stay organized
I also remind myself to not sweat the small stuff, be grateful and not to take myself too seriously.
Resources I Use To Stay Inspired |
- Independent films (Sci-Fi, Drama, Comedy)
- Audible books – favorite fiction and non-fiction
- TED Talks
- Inspirational speeches from world leaders
- ThinkTanks/Conferences such as Aspen Institute, TED, Renaissance Weekend, Summit Series, The Web Summit
- I listen to Gregorian Chants to help me relax and focus; Classical and house are also favorites
- Salsa dancing
- Books from my favorite authors such as Ray Kurzweil, Jared Diamond, Thomas L. Friedman
- National Geographic Magazine and TV Shows
- VICE HBO Documentaries
- Nature is very important in meditating and focusing my mind; I enjoy travelling and immersing myself in nature whether it’s biking in the countryside, relaxing on a sailboat or swimming in the ocean
- Being around positive people who enhance who you are/bring out the best in you – my childhood friends and close friends and family; being around my family (mom and dad) helps reinforce and remind me of my true values and how much I am loved.
- Continuous curiosity – I enjoy going to the opera, plays, musicals, ballets, art exhibits, museums, travelling, etc. I am eager to learn, absorb and grow to become a more informed and well-rounded individual.
My Future Dreams And Ambitions | I would love to scale/expand Girls in Tech to all developing nations/cities (as well as developed nations/cities) around the globe. I would like “Girls in Tech” to be a household name, which helps women and girls love, live and breathe STEM/education, leadership and entrepreneurship. I would still love to grow my organization “The YOUniform Project,” which is a philanthropy that provides uniforms and educational resources to underprivileged children around the world. Hopefully we’ll be launching this initiative in Southern India very soon!
The Best Advice I’ve Received | Advice that I recently received from my Dad: “When life is difficult go back to the basics” – I experienced the worst year of my life recently and my parents were always there for me emotionally and spiritually. My Dad’s advice to focus on the most basic things in life – shelter, food, health – was an important guiding light for me as I came up for air and reinvented my life after this personal setback. I now live by this motto day-to-day and it helps in sustaining a work/life balance, feeling grateful for the small things in life and to not allow my workload to get overwhelming.
On Inspiring Others | The wonderfully talented people of Girls in Tech (as well as other projects I’ve worked on) have come to me. I was so focused and dedicated to working hard in building Girls in Tech that I never had time to recruit people to help me. Instead the best thing I could’ve done is to wait for people who were passionate about the movement, who shared the same vision for the organization to step forward organically to volunteer and help scale the organization. I always try to lead by example and I believe that that factor in and of itself has helped encourage, motivate and inspire people to be a part of an organization that is making a sustainable impact in the world. The individuals who have been by my side the longest – Kate Brodock, Roxanne Varza (and all of the chapter Managing Directors of Girls in Tech) to name a few – have helped me reach our organization’s goals by developing a corporate strategy, operational guidelines, high-impact curriculum and programming and most importantly, keeping me focused.
The Legacy I Would Like To Leave | The legacy that I would like to leave is to help girls and women enter into the STEM fields, help them become entrepreneurs and leaders in high-tech environments. I would also like to help underprivileged children access educational resources and uniforms to destroy the cycle of poverty and create equality amongst all socio economic classes, races, and cultures around the world.