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WoW Blog (Woman of the Week) Blog

WoW Blog (Woman of the Week)

Each week this blog will feature a prominent woman who made significant contributions to engineering or science. If you have any women you'd like us to feature please let us know and we'll do our best to include them.

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Woman of the Week – Rija Javed

Posted June 20, 2017 8:37 AM by lmno24

Rija Javed is currently a senior engineer at Wealthfront, and investment services platform. She leads banking and brokerage platforms and many of the company’s major initiatives. She supervises many projects at once, as well as coming up with creative ideas and solutions.

Credit: Linkedin

She didn’t always want to be an engineer though. In an interview with Refinery29, she noted that she came from a family of engineers and she made a point to not study it in college, which she calls her version of rebellion. She began at the University of Toronto studying commerce and accounting, but soon realized that subject area was not for her. She consulted her dad, who suggested she study electrical engineering. She reluctantly took his advice, but it turned out to be the right choice, she says.

After college, she began work at Zynga as a software engineer. She said in the interview that the company gave her the perfect experience before jumping into[BA1] Silicon Valley, as well as her first job in the U.S., as her studies were all completed in Canada. She worked at Zynga for just over a year, spending time on the infrastructure team as well as the gaming side. However, she reached a point where she wanted to work somewhere more close-knit and less established, so she could have a hand in how it grew. She’s found a good fit at Wealthfront. The company is an automated investment service.

"Initially, I was really impressed with the engineering blog; from there, the mission and company culture drew me in. There are peers I can learn from, but it's small enough that I feel like an integral part of the company,” she told Refinery 29. “Since joining, I've taken the lead on a massive infrastructure project that will impact much of the company's future. As for the mission, Wealthfront is going after a huge undertaking that I find personally rewarding and exciting — to change the way financial services are delivered, and create access to good financial management for more people."

Though she has found career success relatively early in life, she has spoken on the struggles of being a woman in the industry. She noted that there are many misconceptions about what it means to be an engineer, especially among women. She first thought it would be purely technical, but most of her job involves pure logic, rather than manual, technical work.

"Most of my work involves intense critical thinking, collaboration, and problem solving. At Wealthfront, we are trying to change the way people in my generation understand and interact with financial planning. That means we often have a blank canvas to build something that hasn’t been built before, which requires a lot of collaboration and relationship management across teams inside and outside of the company. These are all things I find women inherently excel at. Unfortunately, misconceptions about engineering persist among women because there are few good resources that educate people about what being an engineer actually means. It’s one of the reasons I believe mentorship for young women interested in math and science is so important,” she told Refinery29.

She also spends time volunteering with young girls to foster their interest in engineering and STEM. She works with a nonprofit called the We Teach Science Foundation and tutors and mentors young women.

"I want to get rid of the idea that being an engineer means you sit alone at a computer. The more women there are, the more we can dispose of stereotypes about women in the workplace and [ideas about] how they should behave," she told Refinery29.

Javed also blogs on the company site, check her work out here.



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