A funny thing happens when you ban girls from a boys’ club. Not only do they create their own, (Click) but what they build tends to have wide appeal. That’s what happened for Pooja Nath Sankar, now CEO of a Palo Alto Company called Piazza. Sankar didn’t plan to build a business. Her idea was born of necessity. A student in technology, she was frozen out of the all-male study groups at the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur where she was one of three women studying computer science. Too shy to put herself forward, she set up an online question-and-answer study board where individuals could seek help without revealing their gender.
The idea took off. Sankar’s idea answered an unmet need. Eventually, she established Piazza Technologies where, ”Some 2.5 million students use her free website to ask and answer questions about computers.” (“The Social Network Employers Love to Raid,” by Peter Coy, Bloomberg Businessweek, May 21, 2018, pg. 23.)
Sankar didn’t envision that tech companies would gravitate to her page, seeking the brightest of the bright, but they did. Looking back, the synergy seems natural. If you’re a business eager to hire tech talent, Piazza is a good place to find them.
So many recruiters came flocking, in 2013, she added a job hunting function. In 2016, Piazza Careers went commercial. Already, 80 corporations pay to gain access to her service.
To escape discrimination, Sankar was forced to tunnel around it. Her several degrees complete, she now lives in Palo Alto where she serves as CEO of her fledgling enterprise. When she meets her male counterparts now, she stands on an equal footing.