fbpx

EXPLORE OUR

How my non-technical background helps me as a three-time tech-founder & CEO

Neha Sampat is currently founder and CEO at Contentstack, the leading Content Experience Platform (CXP)

ARTICLE SUMMARY

Neha Sampat is a three-time tech founder and CEO, even though she comes from a non-technical background. Neha is also known for building purpose-driven companies that are great places to work.

IT’S BEEN SAID THAT NEHA SAMPAT “GOES AGAINST THE GRAIN OF STARTUP MYTHOLOGY.”

Neha is currently founder and CEO at Contentstack, the leading Content Experience Platform (CXP). She recently led the company through a $57.5M series B, taking the total capital raised to $89M over the past two years. Neha previously founded and led digital transformation consultancy Raw Engineering and digital experience Platform Built.io, which was acquired by Software AG in September 2018. 

Neha often speaks at conferences and events about her experience as an entrepreneur, female founder, leader, culture builder, and equity champion. She was recognized as “Female Tech Trailblazer of the Year in 2020” by IT Supply Chain, and “Best CEO for Diversity” and “Best CEO for Women” in the 2020 Comparably Best Places to Work Awards. Aragon Research also named her its 2018 CEO of the Year, and Inc. named Contentstack one of its Best Workplaces in America in 2021.

Neha is a relentless advocate for achieving equity in the workplace through initiatives like the ScaleUp Diversity Pledge and Pledge 1%, board participation, incubator programs, and mentorship. In her Dreammakers podcast, she interviews women trailblazers who balance profit and purpose while finding sustainable ways to lift people and communities up. Neha is a certified sommelier.

In this piece, we chat to Neha about how her non-technical background has helped her as a tech founder, how to cultivate a positive culture and encourage diversity, and making the tech industry a better place to work.

THE TECH WORLD HAS LONG BEEN CONSIDERED AN EXCLUSIVE PLACE, WHERE IN ORDER TO JOIN, YOU MUST HOLD A CERTAIN SET OF SKILLS AND HAVE A CERTAIN TYPE OF KNOWLEDGE.

Although I am a three-time tech founder and CEO, I’m not your “typical” tech CEO. I am an American Indian woman without an engineering or computer science degree. I haven’t come from a technical background; however, I strongly champion that diversity of knowledge and an array of experiences are key to making the tech industry a better place to work.

Over time, I’ve become used to being an outsider. I’ve also made it a point to level the playing field externally and within my own company. But the industry still needs to catch up, and to do so, we need to empower women to step into tech and take leadership roles.

When I first travelled to India as a CEO, I visited the India-based headquarters of our growing digital experience consulting company, Raw Engineering, to inspire our engineering team to the overall vision of our product and company. I was a non-techie female CEO in a room full of (mostly) male engineers. These situations can be challenging, but to succeed, business leaders must be prepared to go against the grain and build purpose-driven companies that are great places to work.

Moving from a non-technical background into a career in tech is no easy process, and that is one of the many reasons why having a good culture is so important. Employees are individuals, and they will have more than one set of skills. As a business leader, it wouldn’t be right for me to treat people in a binary way. There are a plethora of different skills an individual can offer across many markets. Some of the best colleagues I’ve hired and worked with over the years have had resumes that didn’t match the job description. For instance, we hired an astrophysicist to head up our marketing, and now they’re our COO. Also, a former screenwriter works in sales, and with his prior expertise, he curates his emails expertly as if he is developing a scene for the next cinematic hit.

So, how do you go about building a diverse team? You focus on hiring people with transferable skills over narrow experience. This is our process at Contentstack, and it allows us to give all qualified applicants a chance to prove their abilities. We also run our job descriptions through a Gender Decoder to ensure gender-inclusive language. Holding yourself accountable is also key – actions are much louder than words. At Contentstack, we’ve signed industry commitments such as the “ScaleUp Diversity Pledge” to focus on diverse hiring, ensure equitable compensation and build a representative board of directors. By making sure we have diversity at all stages of the company, we can really reinforce our values and lead with them. This creates a culture we are all proud of. It also ensures we are futureproofing our organisation as economics, business, and societal tides shift. A company that knows who it is and what it stands for is more sustainable in the long run.

Diversity also plays a pivotal part in building a culture that motivates employees. Research studies show that diverse workforces strengthen the bottom line. Diversity also brings with it all sorts of intangibles that improve culture. To name a few, employees don’t feel as if they’re “the only,” new ideas and fresh thinking inspire creativity and innovation; and the organisation becomes a coveted place to work.

The industry has become more diverse in the last decade. In 2004, one in four tech employees were women. Women in India today make up 35% of the tech workforce, partly due to tech-involved programs like NASSCOM. They encouraged businesses to launch gender-parity initiatives to overcome the talent shortage the industry was facing. Although we have come a long way with diversity, there is still a long way to go, and I hope that with progressive changes, we can help to make the tech industry a better place for people of all backgrounds, no matter if they are technical.

CAREER BUILDING RESOURCES
FOLLOW US ON SOCIAL
RELATED CONTENT
RELATED CATEGORIES


JOIN OUR COMMUNITY

RELATED ARTICLES

Join us as we sit down with Kristin Dorsett, the Chief Product Officer at Viator, the world’s largest experiences marketplace. Delve into Kristin's remarkable journey,...
In this episode, join us as we delve into the dynamic world of female tech engineers. Tania Zagorskaia, Engineering Manager at Bloom & Wild, shares...
Gillian Whelan is Managing Director of emagine in Ireland. As an experienced MD leading the Irish arm of emagine’s international operation, Gillian has built up...
Neha Srivastava, a seasoned software engineer, highlights the pivotal role effective communication plays in securing coveted tech positions. She provides invaluable insights to excel beyond...