Often referred to as the 'queen of startups', Bindi Karia has supported events and initiatives for new firms across Europe, and led Microsoft's entrepreneurial support branch BizSpark in the UK.
After leaving her role at Microsoft, Karia joined the UK branch of Silicon Valley Bank in January, taking on the role of vice president of Accelerator solutions, a branch of the bank that focuses on startup companies. Silicon Valley Bank has financed many burgeoning San Francisco firms, such as Twitter and Pinterest, and as part of its expansion into the UK it has backed companies including Mimecast and Cambridge Broadband Networks.
Karia's Hot Seat follows other tech high-flyers, including EMC vice president for UK and Ireland James Petter and F-Secure chief executive Christian Fredrikson, as part of V3's weekly insight into the professional and personal preferences of some of the biggest names in the IT industry.
V3: What’s your favourite part of your current job?
Karia: Working with and being inspired by innovators and entrepreneurs. Their enthusiasm and passion for their product is infectious, and I carry it into the work that I do.
Which mobile phone and tablet do you currently use?
I’m a bit of a tech junkie given my Microsoft heritage and the number of startups I’ve worked with. It’s made me curious about all the platforms for sure. Having recently left Microsoft and joined Silicon Valley Bank, I’m actually enjoying learning and playing with all the technologies out there. I currently use a Nokia Windows Phone 7.5, a Surface Pro, an iPad Mini, a Symbian device (Nokia 808 PureView, the 41MP camera is absolutely amazing), and I’ve just purchased an iPhone 5.
Which person do you most admire in the IT industry?
It would have to be Bill Gates. Not only did he change the world from a technology perspective, he is now changing it from a humanitarian perspective.
Which technology has had the biggest impact on your working life?
Tablets and cloud surrounded by productivity technologies. It means that I can work anytime, anywhere with WiFi, get real-time access to my data, and essentially be portable anywhere in the world. This means I can spend time on the ground with my customers at their offices, or out in the community and see what is really happening. I no longer have to be bound to my desk.
What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
Genuinely, it’s been meeting all the startup CEOs and rulebreakers. They completely inspire me.
What was your first job?
My first job in my teens was as a retail assistant in a clothing store. My first graduate role was as a business analyst at Datamonitor.
What’s your favourite thing about working in the IT industry?
The level of innovation and the incredibly rapid pace of change. Nothing is ever the same, which means you are forced to keep on learning and changing with the times. I love being kept on my toes to keep up with the incredible pace of change. Why do you think I have so many devices?
What will be the next big innovation of the coming years?
Ultra-smart, uber-connected devices. Hyper local, and hyper knowledgeable of all aspects of the individual, from health to shopping to general day to day. We’ve not even begun with this generation of current devices yet.
What do you do enjoy doing when you finish work?
I enjoy keeping fit, so will always end up at some class in the gym, or going for a run if I am training for a marathon. I also enjoy meeting up with my friends, and finding new interesting restaurants in this great city we call London. There’s always something new and innovative popping up, every week it seems!
What keeps you awake at night?
Worrying that I will not get everything done that I need to the next day!
What was the last book you read and was it any good?
I’m currently in the middle of Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. It’s a chunky read, so thank goodness for my Kindle app. So far, I’m really enjoying it.
Where’s your favourite holiday destination, or favourite place for escape?
I am absolutely in love with and at home in the mountains, given that I grew up outside Calgary, Canada. Lake Louise, Canada, and Chamonix, France, are my favourite places bar none; they are my spiritual homes. For summer getaways, I love Mombasa, as my entire family is from Kenya, so I have been going there since I was a child.
E-readers or real books?
Both. I download everything onto my Kindle for convenience, especially when I travel or commute. And for the more epic books, or the books I love, I buy a copy for my exceptionally crowded bookshelf at home.
The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?
Windows or Mac OS?
On-premise or cloud?
What’s holding women back from entering the IT profession?
We need to start encouraging girls to take an interest in technology from a young age, and we need to continue to highlight current amazing female role models in technology. That’s why I rate initiatives like Microsoft’s DigiGirlz.
How can we get more school children interested in IT careers?
I think initiatives like Code Club, CoderDojo or Codecademy are going a long way in terms of encouraging school children. Putting technology at the centre of the school curriculum would also make a lot of sense.
Did you always grow up wanting to work in IT?
Actually, no. I fell into it as a result of the work I did, and the people I knew via work. In the beginning, I wanted to be in the Foreign Service given my international upbringing – how things change!
What websites do you have bookmarked at work?
LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Outlook.com, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, Forbes, BBC, FT.com, SVB.com/UK.
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