Nancy Hoque, a second generation Bangladeshi-American, has become a ‘Silicon Valley Business Journal 40 under 40’ inductee
This year in August, a phone call from the Silicon Valley Business Journal put a smile on Nancy Hoque's face.
Born in San Diego, California, to Bangladeshi parents, Nancy had been selected for the "Silicon Valley Business Journal 40 under 40" class of 2020.
The recognition honours top Silicon Valley professionals and Nancy is one of the 40 outstanding inductees.
From the list of this year's honourees, the name "Nancy Hoque" is the only one with a Bangladeshi origin.
"My husband nominated me and I did not even think of making it to the list," Nancy said to The Business Standard on a WhatsApp call from California.
Although she got married at an early age, it did not hinder her illustrious career.
Her Bangla is also not half-bad as any native speaker.
"My mother made sure we always speak in Bangla at home. Hence, I did not have much problem in picking up the language," she said.
Nancy currently works at Adobe as a go-to-market strategy associate.
Why do you think you were selected for the inductee list, we asked her.
"I cannot actually fathom for what specific reason I was selected for the honour," Nancy humbly said.
However, her footprint in technology, leadership and academia has made the person she is now.
Nancy has indeed become a who's who in the tech capital of the world.
She attained BS and MS in Electrical Engineering at UC San Diego and San Diego State respectively.
Her career kicked off when she joined Motorola as a system solution engineer.
She was already married and had children to take care of.
As she was assigned to design the sales strategy for the Asia-Pacific region, she had to move out to Singapore.
"I had to work with the US Army and US Navy on behalf of Motorola," Nancy said.
The systems she designed at Motorola directly provided mission-critical communications to save lives.
Nancy's next career stop was at Symantec, now a Fortune 500 company.
Her role at the company, she believes, played a part in making the traditional company try innovative solutions to go to the market.
Nancy also has an MBA from UC Berkeley Haas School of Business.
"I am a part-time professor now at Berkeley, I am part of the Audience Focused Communications teaching team," she said.
What is your take on the world of Silicon Valley?
"I love it, I love the fast paced world of Silicon Valley," Nancy said.
"So many new things are happening at the Valley. Life changing, mind bending technologies that are helping to shape the world. Really glad to be a part of it," she added.
Whatever Nancy does in the professional field, she always wants to contribute to make room for female diversity in leadership positions.
She shared an anecdote with us – a memory she still upholds fresh.
"I once got to ask German Chancellor Angela Merkel a question at a G20 summit," Nancy recalled.
In 2018, she attended the Global Solutions Summit, a pre-cursor on policy discussions held at the G20 meetings in Argentina.
Nancy had only one hour to come up with a question to ask the most powerful woman in the world.
"Why am I here in Berlin? What really matters?" I asked myself.
She had a discussion with her husband, children and fellow attendees.
"I would ask the most powerful woman in the world, a question about building more women leaders," she decided.
When Angela Merkel arrived the next morning at the summit, Nancy was waiting for her turn.
When the live camera turned to Nancy and Merkel, Nancy held the mic and introduced herself as a business student and a working mother from Silicon Valley.
Then she asked, "As the most powerful woman in the world, how are you going to continue this momentum and influence policies and conversation among political and corporate leadership that brings this topic of women in leadership to the forefront? Within developing and developed societies? How might we help you in this effort?"
The Chancellor's answer was what you would expect from a successful global leader – to the point and precise.
Afterwards, Nancy was approached by the T20 Taskforce focused on the Gender Economic Equity.
"These are the key policymakers who will shape how the 20 most economically powerful countries in the world will bring the role of women in both developed and developing countries to the limelight," she said.
Nancy's question to Merkel was so relevant that the German media (Der Tagesspiegel) made it a point to highlight this question.
"It was not just the privilege of asking her a question, the chain of events that followed was what made it worthwhile," Nancy recalled.
Nancy believes the world is at a tipping point.
So the need for more women leaders cannot be ignored.
Apart from her professional life, Nancy has also pursued other passion projects.
"I had a headscarf company where I designed the scarves myself," Nancy remembered.
What is Bangladesh like to you, we asked.
"My memories in Bangladesh are priceless. I vacation here every three or four years. Unfortunately, our plan to visit Bangladesh in 2020 was canceled due to the epidemic," Nancy said. "As soon as things become normal, we might come to Bangladesh."
Nancy Hoque has an ultimate career goal – she wants to be a general manager of a Fortune 500 company in future.
Until she reaches her goal, Nancy will juggle her role of a leader and a mother – among her many identities.