Highlighting Inspirational Asian Leaders in Tech
May 31, 2023
Happy Asian Heritage Month! This month serves as an opportunity to highlight and recognize the achievements of Asian Canadians, both past and present. For the occasion, we took to our social media channels to spotlight some influential Asian individuals that have made their mark on the tech industry.
Looking back at the profiles of Asian American and Asian Canadians we shared in May, we wanted to further explore these remarkable individuals. Keep reading to find out all about three Asian leaders in tech: Reshma Saujani, Steve Chen, and Saadia Muzaffar.
A highly educated and motivated individual, Reshma initially started her career in law after receiving her Juris Doctor from Yale Law School in 2002. This career path led her to work at various firms, including hedge funds and investment management firms to name a few. She even performed some pro bono work while employed at Davis Polk & Wardwell LPP.
By the late 2000s, Reshma racked up an impressive career in politics as well. After publicly supporting US State Senator John Kerry’s presidential campaign with “South Asians for Kerry,” Reshma served on the National Finance Board during Hillary Clinton’s campaign. A year later, she made history by becoming the first Indian-American woman to run for US Congress. Her later use of technology in her US House campaign proved revolutionary at the time.
Reshma’s most notable accomplishment in tech is the creation of Girls Who Code. This is an international non-profit dedicated to increasing the number of women in STEM. It offers programs and clubs for everyone from school-aged children to university students and beyond. Girls Who Code has incited 500,000+ girls, women, and nonbinary individuals to code! In 2015, Reshma was named one of Fortune magazine’s “40 Under 40” for her efforts.
Ever heard of a little something called YouTube? You have Steve Chen in part to thank for that! Born in Taiwan, Steve and his family immigrated to Illinois at the age of 7, where he later earned his degree in computer science at the University of Illinois. Post-graduation, Steve made his way to Silicon Valley where he started his career with a bang. After working at PayPal, where he met his future YouTube co-creators, he even spent some time at Facebook.
At only 27 years old, Steve teamed up with PayPal colleagues Chad Hurley and Jawed Karim to create the Internet sensation, YouTube. As many know, YouTube has become massively popular and it’s even the second most-visited website! In 2006, Steve and Chad sold YouTube to Google, Inc. for a whopping $1.65 billion, receiving 625,366 shares of Google in the sale.
After YouTube, Steve and Chad continued to work together, co-founding a platform called AVOS Systems. This platform, which was released in 2013, was designed to help developers create apps in real-time. In 2011, AVOS Systems acquired the social bookmarking tool, Delicious, from Yahoo!. For his impressive efforts, Steve has been recognized in multiple capacities, including Asian Scientist Magazine’s list of 15 Asian Scientists to Watch. However, the greatest recognition came from his induction as a Laureate of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois in 2018, when he was awarded the Order of Lincoln.
As a Canadian agency, we love to highlight individuals who come from our own nation! Saadia Muzaffar was born in Karachi, Pakistan but emigrated to Canada with her family as an adult. There, she got her start in the tech industry by working at an e-commerce company called AudienceView where she was part of the marketing team.
Saadia has made remarkable strides in advocating for women in tech in Canada. Just like Girls Who Code, TechGirls Canada was founded in 2012 and aims to promote Canadian women in STEM fields. The nonprofit has a focus on intersectionality and diversity, determined to decrease the gender gap in the tech industry particularly where these issues prevail.
In addition to TechGirls Canada, Saadia is involved with multiple organizations that empower women in Canada. She is associated with Women’s Shelters Canada and Girls E-Mentorship. In 2023, she acted as a Canadian representative at the United Nations’ 67th Commission on the Status of Women.
In her capacity as a writer, she co-authored a diversity handbook for start-up companies titled “Change Together.” She led a study entitled “Workfinding and Immigrant Women’s Prosperity in STEM” which focused on immigrant women’s efforts to find employment in STEM fields in Canada. Aside from her advocacy-related work, Saadia also publishes short fiction for which she was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
We hope you enjoyed learning about these incredible trailblazers in the tech industry! We know that we did. To see more of our Asian Heritage Month campaign, plus content like this, make sure to our follow our Instagram.