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Celebrating Women's History Month with Team Symba

Published by Ellen Zhang on March 23, 2021
5 min read

Ellen Zhang

Ellen is the Chief Marketing Officer at Symba. Prior to Symba, Ellen worked in the cybersecurity industry, marketing data loss prevention (DLP) and cyber insurance solutions. She graduated from Boston College with a degree focused on Marketing and Information Systems.

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Happy Women's History Month! As a female-founded tech startup, our team at Symba is passionate about elevating opportunities for women to grow into leaders. Every day we choose to challenge the status quo and work to close gender inequality in the workforce.

Meet Symba's founding team and read the stories of the women that inspire us.

Nikita Gupta, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer

Who are the women leaders you admire and why?

Indra Nooyi was the CEO of PepsiCo from 2006 to 2018 and was the first South Asian, female C-Suite Executive based in America that I learned of. She represents that South Asians can climb the corporate ladder and has been an inspiration to me in navigating the business world. I also admire Malala Yousafzai for her activism in making sure all females have access to education. As the youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate, she has paved a way for others and has consistently demonstrated that you should never let your fears get in the way.

Share a moment in women's history that inspires you to challenge the status quo.

Kamala Harris becoming the first female Vice President of the USA. Despite this moment being very recent in history, Kamala Harris has an inspiring story of many firsts. She has shown that women of color and daughters of immigrants can rise to the top and be elected as one of the highest ranks in American politics.

Julianna Hamilton, Head of Experience

Who are the women leaders you admire and why?

RBG! There are far too many reasons to admire her. To start, her mission in life to advocate for gender equality; she persisted against high levels of adversity in developing her extraordinary career and was devoted to her personal health and wellbeing. Her legacy stands as proof of the difference one woman can make.

Share a moment in women's history that inspires you to challenge the status quo.

When Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic. I remember learning about her in grade school. It was inspirational to hear about a woman who went against gender norms and achieved something almost unheard of in her era. It's because of women like her that we have come so far today in our expectations of gender roles. The challenge Earhart took on made headlines all over the world. Stories like hers give women fuel (pun intended) to choose different paths and validation that we can achieve unheard of feats. No one should be limited to life experiences based on gender. Amelia's story inspires me to never be limited by the expectations of others, gender, and other things considered.

Mitra LeBuhn, Head of Growth and Strategy

Who are the women leaders you admire and why?

Ruth Bader Ginsberg, for her pursuit of knowledge and fearlessness of dissent. She was a confident change-maker. I admire her tenacious advocacy for gender equality. Anita Hill, for her brave fight for civil rights and women's rights. I admire her vulnerability, poetic words, and bold actions. Amelia Earhart, for her persistence and dedication towards exploration. She is known for a number of aviation records, but it's her full life story and adventurous heart that inspires me.

Share a moment in women's history that inspires you to challenge the status quo.

A more recent pivotal moment in women's history that inspires me took place on International Women's Day in 2019. Three Iranian women, Yasaman, Monireh, and Mojgan, entered a subway in Tehran and removed their veils in the “women-only” wagon. They distributed flowers among other, veiled, women and expressed the wish that “one day all the Iranian women won’t have to fight for their natural right (freedom of dress) and whether they are veiled or unveiled will be free and united.” Based on a video recording of the peaceful demonstration, the three women were sentenced to a total of 55 years in prison. The video and the harsh consequences inspired other Iranian women to challenge the status quo. While this has led to dangerous confrontations with religious authorities, it is empowering to question the laws that guide the ways we live and to see women fight for their rights. This moment inspires me to continually ask questions and advocate for human rights.

Paula Mora, Head of Business Development and Strategic Partnerships

Who are the women leaders you admire and why? 

Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund. She was named one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People of 2020. I had the opportunity to meet Kristalina during my time at the World Bank. Her leadership was key as Acting President of the World Bank. She brought with her a personable and mission-driven leadership style that I aim to replicate through my role at Symba.

Share a moment in women's history that inspires you to challenge the status quo.

A recent moment in women's history that inspires me every day was the naming of Kamala Harris as the United States' first female, first African American, and first Asian American vice president.

Ahva Sadeghi, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer

Who are the women leaders you admire and why?

I admire Anousheh Ansari, CEO of the XPRIZE Foundation, the world's leader in designing and operating incentive competitions to solve humanity's grand challenges. She is the first female private space explorer, first astronaut of Iranian descent, first Muslim woman in space, and fourth private explorer to visit space. I had the opportunity to meet her in Hyderabad, India in 2017 for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit. I was lucky to randomly sit next to her on the bus ride to the reception and hear her incredible story. I admire her for adventuring to space, founding multiple companies and continuing to make a positive impact on a global scale as the CEO of XPRIZE.

Share a moment in women's history that inspires you to challenge the status quo.

In 1903, Marie Curie was the first woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. I did my first history fair project on Marie Curie when I was in elementary school and she inspired me as a woman in science making new discoveries.

Ellen Zhang, Chief Marketing Officer

Who are the women leaders you admire and why?

I really admired the women leaders I worked with at Digital Guardian, my first real marketing job out of college. Connie Stack and Niru Raghavan were vital in shaping my career as a marketing professional. It was inspiring to see these strong, intelligent women lead our revenue-driving department; they were incredibly supportive and helped me grow not just as a marketer but also a person.

Share a moment in women's history that inspires you to challenge the status quo.

Dr. Margaret Chung's story is very inspiring. I just learned about her recently through Alok Vaid-Menon, who is an incredible gender non-conforming LGBTQIA+ activist. The daughter of Chinese immigrants, she was the first Chinese American female physician and founded one of the first Western medical clinics in San Francisco’s Chinatown in the 1920s. She also challenged gender norms at the time. Dr. Chung had female lovers, and when she was in med school, she was the only woman and called herself "Mike" while wearing traditionally "masculine" clothing.

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