On Nov. 28, the Harker Speaker Series relaunched after an extended hiatus with an appearance by entrepreneur and author Magdalena Yeşil, a first investor and founding board member of Salesforce. Interviewed by junior Mahi Kolla, a student in Harker’s incubator program, Yeşil discussed her latest book, 2017’s “Power Up: How Smart Women Win in the New Economy.”
The book was spurred by stories Yeşil read of women having bad experiences in the tech industry. Fearing that more women would not want seek a career in technology, she decided to take action. “I felt that it was my responsibility to tell my story as well as other women’s stories,” she said. Yeşil interviewed 27 women for the book, sharing challenges and success stories of women in the industry in what she hopes to be a “very pragmatic, very practical book to inspire young women.”
Yeşil also shared some instructive stories, such as the time she had dinner with her 31-year-old niece, who asked what Yeşil was doing at the same age. Yeşil responded that she was unemployed at the time. “I became an entrepreneur because I couldn’t find a job,” she said. “I had to create a job for myself.” After interviewing at several companies, she decided “to recreate myself by making myself an expert in an area where a lot of people were not experts.” That area turned out to be the internet, which at the time was primarily the domain of universities and the government.
After the talk, Yeşil took some questions from the audience and offered advice to young entrepreneurs on what challenges they could expect in their careers. She stressed the importance of finding co-founders and advised students not to get discouraged when generating funds, explaining that venture capitalists will predict incorrectly “no matter what or how brilliant the idea is.”
Yeşil also spoke briefly about her latest startup, which uses artificial intelligence to upload loan documents via smartphones, drastically improving the approval process.