We've all heard it said before: confidence is key to career success. This was especially true for Niyati Shah, who found herself evangelizing and training seasoned software engineers... without a technical background.
Shah started her career in payroll. But her persistence and confidence helped her along to director of education operations at MongoDB, a cross-platform document-oriented database program. There, her training team has grown from three to 30 and has helped over one million people in 196 countries learn the MongoDB platform.
We spoke to Shah about how she found a career that fits her talents, even if her role wasn't something she felt immediately comfortable with. Then, we talked about her (relatable) love for travel, who inspires her and, of course, her best career advice.
Fairygodboss of the Week: Niyati Shah
Director of Education Operations, Engineering Department at MongoDB
Greater New York City Area
Tell us a little about your career. How did you get to where you are now?
My career has taken a very interesting trajectory. I started out in payroll then became an executive assistant, a recruiter and a global training manager. Now, I am a director of education operations at MongoDB. When I first joined, the training team was only a team of three. Fast forward to 2019 and we are a team of over 30 professionals. In my current role, I am responsible for expanding the global community of skilled and enthusiastic users of MongoDB.
What is an accomplishment that you are proud of?
MongoDB University has over one million course registrations from learners in 196 countries, and is the primary means through which the world learns to use MongoDB.
What is a challenge that you've faced and overcome?
I came from a non-technical background and was responsible for evangelizing and training seasoned software engineers. The way I overcame this challenge was through a lot of self-learning, being aware of my surroundings and picking up the lingo as quickly as I could.
Who is YOUR Fairygodboss? and Why?
My Fairygodboss is my mom. It may sound really cliche, but she really is. She came to the U.S. as an immigrant with two very young daughters and she worked tirelessly and endlessly to provide a better life for us. She started out as a cashier at Walmart and ended up being the director of finance at the Coca-Cola division in New Jersey. To really see someone coming up in this world based on talent and hard work is very inspiring.
What do you do when you're not working?
I love to travel. I say this to my manager all of the time: the only reason I come to work is so that I have money to travel. I also read a list of five must-reads every day. It could be about personal investments, feminism, a new tech company that is up and coming or something as silly as reading a new comic strip.
Lightning Round: What book would you bring with you on a desert island?
"Serving Crazy with Curry" by Amulya Malladi.
Lightning Round: What is your shopping vice? What would you buy if you won the lottery?
A lot of travel tickets.
What is the #1 career tip you'd like to share with other women who want to have successful careers like you?
Be persistent. I think it's really important to be confident and know what you're capable of doing.
Why do you love where you work?
I love MongoDB because it has given me the opportunity to grow — not only professionally, but personally. MongoDB believes in doing good for the community. We are one of the only tech companies that offers free education to anyone who wants to learn our product.