As SVP of Productivity at GoDaddy, Irana Wasti is helping lead the charge to create a more inclusive working environment and achieve gender parity.
How I'm Skirting the Rules
With more than 70 million domain names under GoDaddy’s management, odds are that you or someone you know uses the company to register or host your website. As is the woman helping small business owners—more than half of which are women-owned—amplify their mission to the world and run their companies with more ease. She is also the mastermind behind GoDaddy Women in Technology (GDWiT), a networking group that harnesses women’s connections and relationship-building abilities to propel their careers and attract more females to the company. Here, Irana shares how she is helping the company balance the gender gap—and how she herself gets in touch with her “guiding principles” to balance her personal life with her career.
GoDaddy is Skirting the Rules by focusing on and serving the small businesses around the world, the businesses that appear to fly under the radar but, in reality, spur innovation and offer opportunity for people to pursue their passions. These small businesses deserve tailor-made technology products to help them achieve their goals, but are often overlooked by technology companies due to deficient understanding of small- and medium-sized business needs and lack of ability to provide the right level of tools and support experiences for them.
How I find the possible (a creative solution) within the impossible (against incredible odds) is by not agreeing with the statement “rules are made to be broken.” Instead I believe that rules should be a living set of guidelines that are meant to be re-evaluated and changed based on the dynamic environment that surrounds us.
For example, I’m identifying new opportunities to enrich the environment for women in technology for current and future generations. Upon joining GoDaddy, I launched GoDaddy Women in Technology, GoDaddy’s first employee resource group focused on helping women grow professionally and personally together. This group, comprised of passionate and dedicated volunteers throughout the company and beyond, has helped GoDaddy evolve internal practices (like employee calibration, promotions and compensation) as well as raise the bar on proactively hiring diverse employees across technology disciplines.
An example of how listening to my intuition has helped me is when, early on in my career, I established clear priorities (my guiding principles) of what I wanted to accomplish in life when it came to career, family and community. Every critical decision I’ve made since then has been based on staying true to my guiding principles. I’ve learned that being clear on your priorities from the beginning really simplifies the decision-making process.
My rule in life is that I want to have a successful career (I have CEO aspirations), I want to have a family (I wanted to be a young mom) and I want to make a difference in the communities around me.
An example of how my personal priorities helped me craft new rules for myself and eventually better the environment around me for future generations is my Harvard Business School experience. My husband and I started attending Harvard Business School together, thrilled to pursue our career aspirations, while I was also six months pregnant with our first son! For us as a family, this was the best time to have our first kid since we were going to be in the same environment for two years and we were both ready to grow our family. Turns out, we were the first couple at HBS to have a child while attending business school.
Our thought was, even though we were the first couple to be pregnant at HBS, we probably wouldn’t be the last. That thought brought to light the opportunity to work with the school to help the students, professors and the community adjust to the idea of having parents in class. We helped improve policies for generations of women and families to come.
At the end of our truly transformational two years at HBS, our one-and-a-half-year-old son got to walk across the Harvard graduation stage twice—once with my husband and once with me!
My secret talent is being able to prioritize my actions and choices based on my guiding principles. Whether it’s a big decision, such as choosing a new role or taking on more responsibility; or a small decision, such as how to plan out a business trip; I always proactively optimize for the outcome I want (think: picking a company/role that allows me to bring my “whole self to work” or planning an overnight business trip to book a return flight that gets me home with my family in time for dinner.) On my work calendar, a staff meeting carries the same weight as my sons’ performances/recitals/sporting events. If/when a third conflict arises, I treat those two events as equally valuable and therefore hard to move.
A woman is most powerful when she knows how to ask for forgiveness versus asking for permission. I think this applies to both men and women, but as an individual, especially as a leader, knowing when to do this can help you innovate better and accomplish more. Trying something beyond an individual’s or team’s comfort zone (within reasonable boundaries) can help them think and act differently, bringing innovation and significant improvements to their areas of influence.
What I wish I had told myself when I was starting out is to not believe the narrative that your “turn” or your “promotion” will come in due time. I’ve observed that men tend to get promoted based on their aspirations and women tend to trust that their promotion will come in “due time.” I’d say move straight to challenging yourself beyond your current roles and confidently taking the roles that you can grow into.
My favorite skirt (a.k.a. life hack or life rule) is staying true to my guiding principal. Sometimes sticking to the principal means passing up opportunities (both in the workplace and within family), but it keeps me whole from my overall life-goals perspective.