Our first featured Women is Shyna Zhang, Director of Product Marketing for the Enterprise team
The Nation: What's your story? / How did you get where you are?
Shyna: Growing up in Louisiana, I was never exposed to the ‘Technology’ sector or even knew what job opportunities there were in the field. In college, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to intern at a couple of Fortune 100 consulting and banking companies and quickly realized that it wasn’t for me. Even though it was deemed as such a prestigious career, I knew I wouldn’t survive in such a structured and stiff environment (unspoken dress code, ‘buckets in seats’ culture, etc..). A friend of mine encouraged me to apply for an internship at Microsoft – through that experience, I really fell in love with how quickly the Technology space changes and innovates (even comparatively at a large organization like Microsoft).
Believe it or not, I talked my way into a SQL Server Product Marketing job (database marketing! what what!! J) and learned so much about how to drive cross functional teams to launch project, how to set manage large marketing budgets, and how to bring new products through the Microsoft sales engine to market. Seizing the opportunity, I was offered an opportunity to the Microsoft Azure business in Asia Pacific, based out of Singapore. I was terrified, I was 24, and could barely take care of myself let alone leaving everything that I knew to move to the other side of the world without knowing a soul to run a $500M business that I had no clue about. Long story short, I took the leap of faith and had a tremendous year of growth both personally and professionally. It certainly wasn’t a Cinderella story where everything turns out beautiful, in fact, I lost a patch of hair about a half-dollar size from internalizing the stress. Everyone goes through experiences that define who they are, and moving to Singapore (I know, it’s still Asia for Dummies : ) was mine.
Long story short, I was always attracted to the scrappy, startup mentality that Silicon Valley offered and decided that it was time to pack up and move again to San Francisco. Marketo was looking for people to help build and grow their Enterprise business and my skill set fit well in given the organization’s strategic focus. It’s been a fun ride!
The Nation: What is your personal motto?
Shyna: Shoot for the moon, if you miss you’ll still be among the stars? I don’t know, I’ve never been one for mottos or mantras (kudos to you if you are disciplined enough to do that, I envy you! : ). I just try to prioritize staying healthy, family, and friends. I actively practice being grateful for what I have versus focusing on what I don’t.
The Nation: What is your advice for other women in technology?
Shyna: Show up, lean in, be authentic, you’ve probably heard it all – and it’s all true. I think that women have an amazing opportunity at an amazing time where we can truly define our role in the workplace and in society. Reach out to others for help (this is something I’m notoriously bad at and have to actively practice). A good piece of advice that a mentor gave me is to figure out who your Champ, your Advocate, and your Coach is. Your Champ is someone who is potentially more Senior in the organization, who will champion on your behalf of you for your goals. Your Advocate is someone who is willing to speak up on your behalf in meetings and support you behind closed doors (not necessarily the decision maker). The Coach is someone who you can go to with more day-to-day workplace issues that you may not feel comfortable speaking with others on. These folks don’t’ have to be mutually exclusive, however, I think it’s a good framework to think through.
The Nation: How would/do you encourage other women in this field?
Shyna: When my girlfriends and I have career discussions, many times it’s just about building confidence. Often (myself included), self-doubt and second guessing creeps in, having the confidence to 1)know what you want 2) being bold enough to ask for what you want (in a respectful way) is often the hardest part.
The Nation: What do you do to relax?
Shyna: Having lived in 6 cities over the last 8 years, my boyfriend and I love to travel, especially spending time outdoors on ‘adventure’ trips. We’ve climbed Macchu Picchu in Peru, hiked up Volcan Fuego in Guatemala, and plan to climb Mt. Kilimonjaro later this year. We love backpacking, staying active, and exploring the world!