Ruchi Sanghvi (b. 1982)
Can’t help checking your Facebook News Feed every hour? You have Ruchi Sanghvi to blame for your addiction. As the first woman to be hired as an engineer at Facebook, she worked tirelessly as one of the leads on the project to make sure you would never again be out of the loop on what your friends are doing (even if it’s just taking pictures of their lunch).
The Pune, India-native came to the United States to earn her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. After graduation, she found herself in New York City, preparing to use her math modeling skills to work on Wall Street with the rest of her classmates. But a little voice told her she should move west, so she took a chance, joined Facebook and forever changed the way we interact online.
But there was a catch. She had promised her parents that after a year of working in the United States, she would return home and get married. So she took a sabbatical from work, flew home, and went on a ton of dates they had arranged for her. But she found that when she really wanted to know more about the guys, she just looked them up on Facebook! It seemed like a sign, so she went back to work, where she led the teams for Facebook Connect and Facebook Platform (and found her own husband).
After five years at Facebook, she left to co-found her own company, Cove. As CEO, she developed a system to help organizations and communities collaborate and coordinate their efforts. She sold the company to Dropbox a year later, and now serves as the vice president of operations for the file sharing company.
She hopes other women will learn from story and do what’s in their hearts, rather than take the safe route. “I was doing what was expected of me as a girl, and as a woman…. And I’ve seen so many women go through so similar experiences,” she has said. “I’ve decided to not leave before I have to. To not make compromises before I have decisions to make. To not be afraid of the unknown, because that’s where the most exciting opportunities lie. To raise my hand and actually ask for these opportunities.” Here’s to embracing the unknown.