The Harvard Girl Who’s Crashing The Frat Party
Women in tech shouldn’t be a debate. They are essential. It’s not a boys versus girls thing, it’s a “diversify your company and you will succeed” thing.
So, when Matthew Prince, co-founder and CEO of CloudFlare was asked about what he thought of women in tech, he didn’t hesitate to give props to his co-founder Michelle Zatlyn and her role in the success of the company and in smashing tech-frat-culture presumptions.
From Canadian Chemist to Tech Tycoon
Michelle is a clever cookie. Her academic resume would intimidate anyone, guy or girl, going up against her in an interview. It looks something like this:
- BS, Chemistry (minor in Management), with Distinction- McGill University
- MBA- Harvard Business School
- Awarded Dubliner Prize for Entrepreneurship
Prior to co-founding and becoming Head of User Experience at CloudFlare, Michelle worked at little companies like Google and Toshiba, and she helped start two successful startups.
Now at CloudFlare, her business card reads: I’m Michelle Zatlyn. I make products people love.
So, it’s no surprise that she doesn’t have much time to worry about the women in tech/frat culture debate. When Matthew (who also happens to be Michelle’s former HBS classmate) asked what she thought about the Geeklist sexist comments pandemonium, her response was brilliant:
“Sorry, busy building a company”
That company she refers to, of course, is CloudFlare. And, the culture there? A far cry from the frat party that potentially great tech women run from.
The Culture of CloudFlare
Michelle shoots Nerf guns at her employees and drinks beer in the office on Fridays. Well… she has the opportunity to if she fancies. That’s because these are some of the relaxed-atmosphere perks at CloudFlare, and the only similarities the company shares with frat culture.
You see, CloudFlare, is a very young, very successful company. Its impressive list of credentials include:
- Processing more than 20 billion page views monthly (more than Twitter, Amazon and Wikipedia combined)
- Wall Street Journal’s “Most Innovative Technology Company of 2011”
- One of World Economic Forum “25 Technology Pioneers for 2012”
But, it’s the company’s diversity and work-life balance that are the real stars behind the success. Employees work hard, have fun, and leave at a reasonable time. And, no surprise here, their hasn’t been any resignation letters so far.
And, where does Michelle fit into all this? For Matthew, having a woman help him call all the technical, strategic and tactical shots has allowed the company to be as successful as it is. He believes the women in tech discussion should really be a diversity in tech discussion. In order to build a successful startup, he says, it shouldn’t be dominated by one gender, race, etc.
“Having different people with different experiences and different outlooks helps you build a better product”
So, the Harvard girl turned tech leader has found a family amongst the multi-lingual (employees hail from 9 different countries and speak 13 different languages), gender-diverse workforce that is CloudFlare.
So, all you tech ladies sans Michelle’s credentials need not be intimidated. Instead, be inspired that women like her are crashing the tech frat party to make it easier for you to join the fiesta in the future.