Closing The Gap

Anarghya Vardhana, 30-year-old partner at Howard Schultz's VC firm, shares her top 3 tips for launching a career in tech

Anarghya Vardhana, partner at the venture capital firm Maveron. 
Photo courtesy of Anarghya Vardhana
Anarghya Vardhana, partner at the venture capital firm Maveron. 

Anarghya Vardhana is used to being one of the youngest people in the room. At age 17, she published a math theorem. At age 28, she made the Forbes 30 Under 30 list, in the Venture Capital category.

And today, at 30 years old, Vardhana is the youngest partner at Maveron, the consumer-focused venture capital firm founded in 1998 by Dan Levitan and Howard Schultz.

She joined the firm in 2015 as a senior associate, after holding operations and product management roles at Google and several Silicon Valley-based startups. Initially, Vardhana tells CNBC Make It, she was skeptical of venture capital firms, because she "felt like a lot of the recognition in venture capital went to young white men who went to top-tier schools."

But, she says, "I soon learned from a bunch of friends and mentors in this space that the beauty of venture capital is that you can make it your own, and there is a lot of opportunity to learn and develop."

Vardhana shares her top three tips for anyone interested in building a successful career, in tech or any field:

Anarghya Vardhana showing her support for All Raise, an organization that works to diversify the pipeline of funding in tech. 
Photo courtesy of Anarghya Vardhana
Anarghya Vardhana showing her support for All Raise, an organization that works to diversify the pipeline of funding in tech. 

1. Ignore the "can't do" attitude

Currently, women make up just 7 percent of venture capitalists in the U.S, which is a slight boost from 3 percent in 2014. As a woman of color in her field, Vardhana, who was born in India, says she understands that she's a rare presence. But she says she's always ignored other people's idea of what she can and can't do.

"There are always people who are going to tell you 'no' and tell you why you can't do something," she says. "And I think that 'you cannot do something' attitude is especially targeted towards women and people of color."

She says pushing back against these notions and putting herself in a position for new opportunities has been key to her career success.

"One thing that has really benefited me and my career is always having options and asking 'Why?,'" she says. "Why can't I be a woman in engineering? Why can't I be a venture capitalist? When people doubt you just ask the question 'Why?' And remember that those rules are just limitations that people have told themselves."

2. Put yourself in a room that's "above your weight class"

At all times, Vardhana says you must be proactive and the driver of your own career. "No one is going to turn around and say, 'Hey, hello, take this amazing opportunity!" or "Take on this project," she says. "Very few are lucky enough to have someone hand them things like that."

She emphasizes that in order to drive your career forward in technology, or any field, you have to "jump into situations where you have no business being, but you're going to learn a lot."

"Always, always, strive and fight to be in a room that's above your weight class," she says. "If you find yourself with people who are better than you, smarter than you, and you're like, 'I have no business being around these people,' then you are also going to elevate and become smarter and better."

3. Stay a student

In a constantly-changing industry like tech, Vardhana says that "being passive and sitting around waiting for things to come your way will not benefit you." (In today's job market, it's good advice for employees in any industry.)

Instead, she says you have to always be learning, trying new things and putting yourself out there to take risks.

"That attitude of constant learning behooves anyone who wants to be in technology, because every day there is something new and you will fall behind if you don't have that attitude."

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