Diverse hiring in tech & preventing Tokenism, with Strava’s Shailvi Wakhlu

Shailvi Wakhlu was in technology from the beginning. At two, her mom brought home a computer that she would play with. At eight, she started coding and found her passion. But as she got older, she started to realize that most of the coders didn’t look like her, and she was working in a very homogenous field. Now she’s on a mission to change that.

Shailvi Wakhlu is the Senior Director of Data at Strava.


Jackie Ferguson: Hi, and welcome to season four of the Diversity Beyond the Checkbox Podcast sponsored by The Diversity Movement. I’m your host, Jackie Ferguson equality advocate and certified diversity executive. On this show, we discuss how diversity, equity and inclusion benefit our workplaces, schools, and communities by sharing the stories, insights, and best practices of game changers, leaders, and glass ceiling breakers that are doing the work to make our world a more understanding, welcoming and supportive place for us all.

Jackie: Welcome, and thank you for tuning in, my guest is Shailvi Wakhlu. Shailvi is the Senior Director of Data at Strava. As an analytics professor and a former software engineer, she has been involved in shaping great products for companies of all sizes for the last 14 years. Shelby is also a motivating keynote speaker. Shailvi, thank you so much for being on the podcast today.

Shailvi: Thank you so much for having me, Jackie.

Jackie: Shailvi, can you start by telling our listeners a little bit about your background, your upbringing, your identity?

Shailvi: absolutely. So I go by the she, her pronouns. I grew up in India. I lived all over the country and had a really wonderful childhood with my parents and my elder sister. When I was in my late teens, I ended up moving to the US for college, where I studied computer engineering in Illinois Tech. And after that I moved around a bunch back to India, a little stint in Europe, and now I’m back in San Francisco, but I’ve been living for the last seven years. 

Jackie: Awesome, awesome. And Shailvi, you worked for some really cool companies from Monster to Fitbit, Prezi, and Salesforce. Tell us a little about where the love of technology came from and how you rose through the ranks of those companies.

Shailvi: Yeah, it’s been interesting for me to have worked with a lot of these companies. I really enjoyed all the companies that I’ve worked at, and I think I’ve gained a lot by having been in a position to tackle many different problem spaces and, you know, they all had some differences in some pieces in common, but my love for technology started at a really young age. I always enjoyed coding. I started coding when I was eight years old and it was so exciting for me to be able to solve exciting puzzles, as I call them. And so I always knew that I wanted to grow up and work in technology because it was a space that resonated with me. 

Full Episode Transcript

Diversity Beyond the Checkbox is brought to you by The Diversity Movement, hosted by Head of Content Jackie Ferguson, and is a production of Earfluence.  For sponsorship options, email info@earfluence.com.

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