Sunday, January 22 2017, 04:57:12
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Mansi Khandelwal

JWB Blogger

Featured In Forbes 30 Under 30, Neha Gupta Invites Us Over A Feminist Breakfast Talk

  • JWB Post
  •  January 16, 2017


For several years I have been envisioning what turning 30 would feel like. Would I have my Life- Marriage, Job, financial stability, a house all sorted?

Well, five years prior to reaching the turning age, and wondering how to shape my life, gaining perspective from a dynamic and successful woman is exactly what I needed.

On a bright wintery morning, excited and happy, I started my day with an empowering and motivational breakfast ‘Talk’ with Neha Gupta who made it to the Forbes 30 under 30 immigrants list in the Manufacturing & Industry section. Currently managing business operations for DAQRI, a company that develops technologies for augmented reality gadgets, Neha Gupta at 28 holds a proud position in the Forbes list. Prior to this Gupta helped launch The Honest Company and played a role in the sale of Beats by Dre to Apple.

This hour-long conversation reinstated my belief in my dreams. Sharing with you the dose of inspiration I got, here are some excerpts of our chat.

Me: What are the main challenges you face being a woman in this category?

Neha: When I worked with customers both local and outside, I realized it’s a very male-dominated space. Most of the people I work or have worked are males. I think men have an easier way of connecting with men as to how a man and a woman would connect to each other. However, when I am in a meeting, I make sure my voice is heard and I don’t let people talk over me all the time.

Without going into the specifics, I would say that many times what I have realized is that people forget my presence probably because I am the only woman in the room. Also, there are inside jokes amongst them which I personally find very offensive.

Me: What is your leadership style and success mantra?

Neha: My success mantra is “No fear.” Most of the companies that I have worked for have been startups, and what happens there is that you get to learn a lot. That’s how I learned to create my own path. I believe you grow when you take risks and do not become a slave to anybody else.

To be a leader, I believe honesty and transparency are imperative. I try to keep politics out of my workplace. For me, there’s a thin line between being successful and being respected. Sometimes people do not remain true to their selves as they are busy running after success.

Me: Tell us about any feminist memory from the college campus?

Neha: Ahhh, there are so many! *excitedly* So, most of my classmates in graduation were guys. There was a guy from some other country who used to mock me often. Once a professor asked some question and the moment I replied, he started laughing. I was so infuriated that I asked him to answer if he knew it better, but he couldn’t. Soon after he was asked to leave the class. 

Neha had switched from pre-medical studies to Business and Finance during graduation. I was curious to ask the reason behind the shift.

Before she could answer, I jumped, “Is it because Indian families generally want their children to become either doctors or engineers?”

She laughed out loud, and said,

When I grew up in Vegas, there weren’t many business opportunities there. One had to either work in a casino or there were options to be an engineer, lawyers or doctors. So when I got an opportunity to live in LA, I realized that the world was run by much more other options than the ones I had, and I started exploring them.

Me: Tell us about your connection with India.

Neha: My mom is from Chandigarh and my dad is from UP. They moved to Montreal when they were in high school, but yes they often talk about moving back to India and retiring there.

Me: How have your parents supported your journey?

Neha: I am really fortunate that my dad has guided me throughout and has always encouraged me to take risks. He possesses all the entrepreneurial skills in the world. My mom, on the other hand, would not agree with that, but yes they kind of balance it out for me.

I guess it also helps since my brother is in medical school.

And I replied, “Yes of course! It still stays around. Point=Proven!


Me: What advice would you give to women who are trying to break the glass ceiling in the field of technology?

Neha: I would suggest women to never give up. Always keep going no matter how many times you have been rejected. Also, I feel you have to work harder than everyone else if you wish to be successful in life.

Me: How did you spend your first paycheque?

Neha: Ummm, I gave it to my mom!


Me: The biggest stereotype you had to fight as an Indian American?

Neha: I don’t think there has been a chance to fight any such stereotype because I have always had a good set of immigrants to work with. Also, since there are a great number of Indians in the sphere of technology in the US, I have never felt a tinge of discrimination.

Me: One failure that has inspired you to win?

Neha: When I did my first internship in Finance, I cried every single day and I didn’t know what was happening in my life. I had a full-time job offer but I refused as I couldn’t decide. At that time, my dad supported me and asked me to take 2 weeks off without doing any work. I took his advice and it surely sorted my life for good.

I guess I need a break too. LOL!

Me: Three networking tips you would like to give to women.

Neha: My first tip would be to go out as much as you can and meet new people since it helps in building the connections.

Second, build friendship and a warm relationship first.

Last, stay in touch, make a note of important contacts, wish them on celebratory occasions like New Years.

Me: What were you doing at the time you got the news of making it to Forbes? Who called you first to congratulate?

Neha: I was with my mom and we were returning from the gym. I don’t remember it clearly but I guess my dad called me first to congratulate.

Me: Tell us something about yourself that only your close friends would know.

Neha: I guess it would be that I am very spiritual; I like to meditate a lot and talk about it, too.

Me: Three bookmarks on your computer that you click every day.

Neha: Haha… That would be, Twitter, and Facebook!

Me: What was your New Year resolution?

Neha: This year I am planning to start a Non-profit organization to contribute towards women education.

Me: One thing that makes you insecure as a woman.

Neha: I guess the way I look and present myself is very important to me. So the days when I feel I am not looking good, I get uncomfortable.

Me: One secret talent that you have.

Neha: Ohh, I can read very very fast. I can read 1000 words in a minute.

Me: One thing your CV lies about?

Neha: I have mentioned Hindi and Spanish in languages and I am okay in both. Shhh…

Me: One desi habit you’ll never part with.

Neha: Ohh that has to be eating Indian food! I have learned to cook Indian food from my mom and I make sure I cook one Indian dish every day. My favorite is Saag Paneer.


Me: Five wardrobes must haves for a business woman?

Neha: Comfortable shoes under your desk and cute shoes when you have a meeting.

Warm shawl for office. A cute necklace and a pair of simple earrings. And yes, all clothes black is my thing!

Me: How do you entertain yourself during boring meetings?

Neha: I generally text my friends when I am bugged.

Me: If we were to meet in person, what café would you suggest?

Neha: It’ll be Literati café in LA.

*imagining* Sitting on the window side, sipping coffee, and talking about life, hopes, dreams, and our power to bring about a change in not only ours but others lives too!

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