Pavni Diwanji’s Journey to Tech and Google #womenintech

Pavni Diwanji’s Journey to Tech and Google #womenintech


To me, when I program,
it feels like I’m creating something. And once these creative juices
are flowing, then I can bring them everywhere I go. [MUSIC PLAYING] I grew up in a city in western
India called Amdavad. My mom worked as
a bank manager. At the time, you don’t think
about these things, right? It’s only afterwards that you’re
grown up and you’re looking around and you’re like,
boy, that was unusual to have actually a working
mother. My dad worked for IBM. I think I was in seventh grade
and he was trying to get me excited about programming for
the first time in the language called BASIC. My dad’s like, well, you should
learn so you can enter this competition. I’m like, oh, that
sounds good. Really, I’ve never
looked back. Once I got my hands dirty I
was like, this is amazing. [MUSIC PLAYING] I remember this day
very clearly. I show up to the university and
I’m looking around, and in my whole class I’m
the only woman. And I’m like, I guess I’m going
to have to get used to this because it’s a
four year degree. If girls are showing inclination
toward sciences, we have to support them and
we have to encourage them. I have two daughters, and I
think my older one is right now into computer games. So I’m thinking that
there’s a win. [MUSIC PLAYING] My dad mortgaged his
office, $10,000. And I knew that it could
last me one quarter. So my mission, when I came to
Stanford, was to find a way to fund my education. I made a big list of
all the professors. I went to them and I said,
here’s what I can do. Can you take a chance on me? Some of them shouted at me, one
of them really kicked me out of the office. And I cried for a bit, and then
the next morning I went to the next person
on the list. So I think my don’t-give-up
gene really helped me. I graduated in ’92. The company I wanted to work
for was Sun Microsystems because it was where a lot
of hot engineers were. [MUSIC PLAYING] At the time, C++ was the big
language of choice but it was fairly complex, and a
lot of programmers didn’t really like it. This little team of eight
people deep in Sun, were designing a new programming
language called Oak. And Oak became Java, and then
Java launched and it became a huge overnight success. It was tremendously exciting. I mean, we would come to work
every day and there was a huge fan base. And we had no idea. You know, when we put it out,
we had no idea how much of a success this was going
to become. And then James Gosling had
this idea that this programming language can be
really, really useful even on the server side. And no one was looking
at that area at all. And so I said, I’ll step up and
I’ll look at it, and then servlets were born. I think you can hardly go to a
website today that doesn’t deploy the technology. [MUSIC PLAYING] I think spam is awful. It clutters up everyone’s
life. What makes it really hard is
also what intrigues me about the problem. It’s almost like you’re playing
chess with someone. There’s a human being
on the other side. And there’s us on this side
trying to figure out how to take him out. I’m thinking about the
problem every day. Like, there’s got to
be a better answer. There’s got to be
a better answer. And that’s what led to the
creation of my second company, MailFrontier. [MUSIC PLAYING] The idea is, can we take Gmail
and bring it to schools and universities and companies? And I found this incredibly
exciting. I picked it up as
my 20% Project. 20% projects at Google are like,
for 20% of your time you’re allowed to do whatever
you want, right? Gmail was created this way. Google Maps was created
this way. Fast forward four years and what
we achieved was Google Apps for Business. Most major universities in
the world today use that. My kids’ school use that. [MUSIC PLAYING] I would say it’s the most
fast-paced project at Google. I am driving the Profiles
and Pages effort. And we’ve just gotten started. I mean, we have so
many cool things coming down the pipeline. Success to me, for Google+ Pages
means every business, every band, every artist will
have a page, a Google+ page, where they’ll all be
using Google+. I would declare victory if I
have changed the world, if I’ve created something that a
lot of people use that have made a difference
in their lives. And Google makes it really
easy to do that. [MUSIC PLAYING]

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