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4 Tech Leaders Who Dared To Change The Game

Get inspired by leaders in data, design, cybersecurity, and web development.

What would you do if you were more…adventurous? What would you do if you had the same guts as Arya when she took down the Night King? What if you were as intrepid as Indiana Jones diving into ancient temples, or as fearless as Princess Leia facing down the Galactic Empire?

Choosing to change your life and pursue a new career isn’t as dangerous as any of those things, but it still takes the same bravery.

Investing in yourself and daring to do something new is no small feat. It’s literally life-changing!

But where would the tech world be if nobody ever dared to build something new, or to be creative, or to innovate?

Whitney Wolfe Herd: Dared To Build Something New

Innovation is no stranger to Whitney Wolfe Herd, an American entrepreneur and current CEO of Bumble. Wolfe entered the dating app industry in 2012, as VP of Marketing and Co-Founder of Tinder. Tinder needs no introduction, largely in part to Wolfe’s earlier branding and marketing methods, which saw Tinder ignite and spread like wildfire (puns intended).

However, all was not golden. Although she and her fellow industry women were experiencing great career success, and were constantly breaking down barriers in the workplace, society outside of the office was still plagued with misogyny and danger for women. It was a prevalent issue in many places, but few more so than in the dating world.

Speaking in a letter on Bumble’s blog, Wolfe says,

When I founded Bumble, it was because I saw a problem I wanted to help solve. It was 2014, but so many of the smart, wonderful women in my life were still waiting around for men to ask them out, to take their numbers, or to start up a conversation on a dating app. For all the advances women had been making in workplaces and corridors of power, the gender dynamics of dating and romance still seemed so outdated. I thought, what if I could flip that on its head? What if women made the first move, and sent the first message?”

Working with Badoo founder, Andrey Andreev, Wolfe left Tinder and started the first female-friendly dating app now known as Bumble.

With 42 million MAUs (Monthly Average Users), Bumble filed for IPO in 2021, with Wolfe achieving her status as the world’s youngest self-made billionaire. A title which she still holds today.

But Wolfe’s success isn’t just about the amazing app she built, the awesome company she’s led, or even the revenue that she’s bringing in. Bumble is an app born of a desire to effect real world change, contributing to important conversations about how women are treated online and in the real world.

Bumble helps women to feel more empowered in their dating lives, helps to keep them safe, and who knows how many weddings and babies it's been responsible for! And it would have been the dating scene’s biggest loss if Wolfe had played it safe and stuck it out at Tinder!

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Julie Zhuo: Dare To Be Creative

Julie Zhuo’s career in tech started out like many others, as an Engineering intern. She went on to join Facebook in 2016, long before it was the global behemoth known as Meta today. Over the next 14 years she rose through the ranks of Design at Facebook, becoming one of the most influential Product Designers at the company.

But it’s not just her resume that’s impressive.

Zhuo is even better known as the author of The Making of a Manager. Understanding that good managers are made, not born, Julie set out to write a book based on the lesson she’s learned about being a people-leader. The book soon became a Wall Street Journal bestseller, and you’ll barely find a list of great reads for leaders that doesn’t feature Zhuo!

The Making of a Manager Book by Julie Zhuo

Many have pointed to Zhuo as an inspiration to them, and her book as an incredibly valuable resource in their journeys to become the best possible manager they can be. What started as a side project for Zhuo while she was making waves at Facebook, became a true handbook for leaders across the world.

Where is Zhuo now? She co-founded her own company, Sundial, which will soon launch a new data product for organizations. (If you had any doubt about Zhuo’s design chops, check out how gorgeous Sundial’s website is!)

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Edward Snowden: Dare To Speak The Truth

Even those outside of the cybersecurity industry know about Edward Snowden. In the early 2010s, it was a difficult story to miss unless you really were living on another planet.

Snowden was working for the U.S. National Security Agency (the NSA) as an intelligence contractor. In 2013, while working at this top-secret organization (we’re talking seriously protected information here), Snowden uncovered information that proved that digital privacy was pretty much just an illusion.

Leaking information to the press, Snowden let the public know that their personal devices could essentially be turned into microphones, allowing them to be listened to by agents at any given moment. The NSA also ran a classified data-mining operation called PRISM, which collected sensitive user data from companies like Facebook, Apple, and Google.

You’d think that if you leaked this kind of information, and became enemy #1 for the U.S. government, you’d try to keep a low profile. But Snowden revealed his identity to the world, and spoke openly about what he did and why.

"I can't in good conscience allow the U.S. government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they're secretly building."

His advocates support the idea that he did this to control the narrative, and stop the NSA from twisting the story. His critics claim he did this for attention and clout. We’ll let you make up your own minds as to what side you’re on.

(We made these layered and complicated events sound very simple, otherwise you’d be reading this blog for hours! If you’re a cybersecurity nerd like us, we highly recommend checking out the full story!)

So what did Snowden manage to change after all of this? What was his exile worth?

In August of 2013, then-U.S. president Barack Obama proposed pro-transparency reforms for the NSA’s operations, and organized an independent panel to assess the actions of the NSA and other security agencies.

Before Snowden, data privacy was something that the public didn’t particularly think about. We were all ticking those ‘I agree’ boxes on the terms and conditions without a second thought. OK…that might still be true today. But it’s also true that more people are installing VPNs, deleting accounts with companies that lose their trust, and more and more young professionals are entering the world of cybersecurity.

Demand for cybersecurity professionals is also on the rise, with the Global Tech Council reporting a 350% increase in new cybersecurity jobs from 2014 to 2021. That’s 3.5 billion jobs!

Want to dive into a world of drama and intrigue? Book your Earlybird spot on a Cybersecurity bootcamp!

Hilary Mason: Dare To Innovate

Data Scientists and enthusiasts know how exciting, beautiful, and creative data can be. This is something that Hilary Mason - data scientist, tech entrepreneur, Forbes 40 under 40 listee- knows very well.

Mason started making waves in data when she joined bitly as their Chief Scientist. She went on to found Fast Forward Labs, a research company with a goal of making machine learning possible. Fast Forward Labs research “focuses on emerging trends that are still changing due to algorithmic breakthrough, hardware breakthrough, technological commoditization, and data availability.” It was acquired by Cloudera in 2019.

Now, Mason is the Co-Founder of Hidden Door, proving that you can make beautiful and creative things with data. Hidden Door is a ‘new kind of social roleplaying experience, powered by narrative AI.’ It’ll be launching in early 2022 so keep an eye on this amazing project!

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As well as innovating in ways that the global data industry can appreciate, Mason is also a great example of the incredible things that can happen when you fall in love with your hometown tech industry.

Mason is a New Yorker, through and through. She also co-founded hackNY.org, which helps local tech talent break into the NY tech scene by introducing them to startups, and facilitating paid internships to make entry-level roles accessible.

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How to Be Daring: Jump Into Your Future Tech Career

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Can you imagine what the world would look like if no one ever dared to be intrepid?

Think of all the cool projects that would never have been possible, the things we wouldn’t know, and the products that wouldn’t exist at all.

Now imagine what your life could look like if you do dare to be intrepid? What does that future look like, the one where you take a leap of faith?

We hope it involves choosing a career that you love. One that excites you, gets you out of bed in the morning, and can even take you around the world.

So we hope you’ll take that leap of faith, and invest in your aspirations by checking out our tech bootcamps. We can teach you the things you need to know to become a professional in Web Development, UX/UI, Data Analytics, and Cybersecurity. You’ll be an Ironhacker, part of a growing community of passionate tech professionals who love what they do.

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