Fairygodboss

"Do not define yourself by your gender. Do not aspire to be the best female CEO, or the best female engineering manager. Aspire to be the best CEO or the best engineering manager. Period."

That's Magdalena Yesil's advice to other women who aspire to have successful careers. Yesil is an entrepreneur and role model professionals everywhere: the first investor and founding board member of Salesforce, current executive chair of DriveInformed, and author of Power UP: How Smart Women Win in the New Economy—and she's our Fairygodboss of the Week.

Fairygodboss of the Week: Magdalena Yesil

Executive Chair, DriveInformed, and author of Power UP: How Smart Women Win in the New Economy

San Francisco, CA

Tell us a little about your career. How did you get to where you are now?

I studied electrical engineering and have been part of Silicon Valley for three decades. As a technologist, I rode every new wave of innovation—sometimes sank, sometimes swam.

What is an accomplishment that you are proud of?

Building Salesforce from scratch, surviving the dotcom bus,t and coming out stronger at the other end of the dark tunnel.

What is a challenge that you've faced and overcome?

Not being able to make payroll, and figuring out a way to collect from customers upfront to help with negative cash flow.

Who is YOUR Fairygodboss? And why?

I did not have female role models during my career, but I know a few amazing women. Julie Wainwright, the CEO of the TheRealReal is one of those. 

What do you do when you’re not working?

Hike.

If you could have dinner with one person—dead or alive—who would it be?

Sandra Day O'Connor.

Lightning Round

What is your karaoke song?

"What Do You Get When You Fall in Love"

What is your favorite movie?

The Gods Must be Crazy

What book would you bring with you on a desert island?

A survival manual. 

FGB: What is your shopping vice? What would you buy if you won the lottery?

I am not much into owning stuff.

What is the #1 career tip you'd like to share with other women who want to have successful careers like you?

Do not define yourself by your gender. Do not aspire to be the best female CEO, or the best female engineering manager. Aspire to be the best CEO or the best engineering manager. Period. 

FGB: Why do you love where you work?

Working with young and smart people who are motivated to change the world for the better using technology is always fun.

Fairygodboss is all about women helping other women - so each week, we celebrate a woman who made a difference in another woman’s career. Is there a woman who has made a difference in your career? Celebrate her and thank her by nominating her here.