Naimeesha Murthy Leads By Example: Product Manager, Mentor, Founder and Angel Investor Bringing the Importance of Inclusivity Into The Spotlight

Naimeesha Murthy Leads By Example: Product Manager, Mentor, Founder and Angel Investor Bringing the Importance of Inclusivity Into The Spotlight

Diversity, equity and inclusion are commonplace terminology in our modern-day society. However, it is a sector where talk seems to be much more prevalent than action – paying lip service to quell conflict and complaints without actually making progress on the issue. This is particularly prominent in the tech industry where, according to Zippia, even today, men hold 75% of all tech jobs and white workers account for 62% of all tech positions. Although some companies have recently structured a DEI strategy into their business plans, change is simply not happening fast enough. Zippia also notes that the most common reason for lack of representation in tech is an absence of mentors.

Naimeesha Murthy has made it her personal mission to reduce the gender gap and inequality in tech through the creation of jobs, skills-based education, investment, community building and mentorship. She herself is an award-winning product leader with over a decade of expertise in digital product management, and her guidance has been instrumental in supporting and empowering women and women-owned businesses in the tech industry.

The journey to finding her true calling

Raised in Bengaluru, a vibrant city known as India's Silicon Valley, Naimeesha was familiar with her country’s high-tech industry early in life. She began her career in business and advertising, where she was able to gain experience in almost all areas of business management, from financial modeling to product marketing. She worked with some major corporations, including Norwegian telecom giant Telenor, and it was during that time that she learned how to successfully take an idea from early concept all the way through to completion.

For Naimeesha, India was familiar and held an excellent network of connections. However, she decided to complete her master’s in the UK in order to broaden her horizons. She was a driven student and thrived upon the independence and high-caliber education that she found there. Then, in 2010, Naimeesha got married and her husband’s work brought them to the US.

This was a fresh start for Naimeesha, which came with both benefits and challenges. Without her community and family nearby, she had to depend on her husband’s network to find support and opportunity. Given that he had studied in the US, he had already established a strong community base for himself. Thankfully, it didn’t take long for his circle to become her circle and, as a result, New York quickly felt like home. During that time, Naimeesha came to understand how important community building is and that reaching out within your network of connections can be a powerful way to open up new doors, in particular for immigrants. Even though she didn’t see it at the time, that realization was the start of something brilliant.

Pivoting from marketing to product management

In 2014, Naimeesha began working with World Education Services (WES) as a career marketing professional, but quickly worked her way up to lead new product development in the CEO’s office. Entering a new sector was challenging, but she didn’t allow herself to get disheartened. Instead, she focused on putting one foot in front of the other and staying open to opportunities that came her way, building up her portfolio and developing her skills. Product development was such a vast role and, over the seven years that she spent with WES, she played a key part in every aspect, from developing market strategy to product launch, and then long-term product maintenance.

In 2017, Naimeesha’s career had a very brief lull as she took on the role of being a new mother. When she returned to work,  she was extremely motivated and ready to take her career to the next level. Unlike most people, for her, the intention behind her desire to grow was not simply self-serving. With her sights set on product management, she started to search for role models who could inspire and guide her next steps. While today there is an active conversation about the gender gap, at that time it was not a common topic and Naimeesha really struggled to find role models in leadership tech positions who looked like her.  It was then that she realized how many people of minority groups – and women in particular – must be facing the same problems.

After her own personal struggles and seeing this gap in the tech industry, Naimeesha decided that she was not willing to let anyone else feel so alone and unsupported. She knew that she was not the only one yearning for community and mentorship, and so she decided that if she could not find it then she must create it. That’s exactly what she did.

Beyond her 9 to 5, Naimeesha became a leading voice and was instrumental in the movement for making product management more inclusive for women in the US and even received the Inclusive Product Management Champion Award from the University of Washington earlier this year.  She’s now recognized as an inclusive product management champion for her work and dedicates her time and expertise to help broaden access to economic opportunity. By developing a program that empowers and enables marginalized professionals to climb the product management ladder, she brings deep value to her community.

Leading product manager uplifting her community

After leaving WES in 2021, Naimeesha’s expertise was in high-demand and she has since worked in a variety of consulting roles with big tech companies like Google, Okta and Varsity Spirit. Today, Naimeesha  leads strategic new product development initiatives at the nation’s number one independent broker-dealer and top RIA custodian in the US, and holding the role of VP of Product speaks greatly to her expertise.

Through Arise (a WeWork Xand StrongHer Ventures accelerator), Naimeesha offers direct mentorship and also angel invests in early-stage women-owned ventures. She is also an educator and a tech conference speaker. She is a Forbes Council Member, and serves as a Harvard Business Review Advisor, as well as an advisory board member at Pace University. Naimeesha’s work has been published in major media outlets like Forbes, Builtin, and is even featured in Amazon’s bestseller F.O.R.G.E.D.: Six Practices of Great Leaders in Volatile Times.

Naimeesha is passionate about building community and puts every moment of her free time into uplifting those around her. Her work has been instrumental in supporting women-owned businesses and re-engaging women back into the workforce, especially during the pandemic, by making jobs, mentorship and skills-based education more accessible for women in product management.

The way she sees it, change is the only constant in product management. Therefore, in this industry, it is imperative to continuously learn, seek feedback and connect with others in the field. She suggests leveraging technology by customizing social feeds and news, subscribing to newsletters and podcasts, and networking as much as possible. It’s all about community.

When asked about what is coming next, Naimeesha shares that “Personally, I think education, climate , Femtech and Future of Work , are a few sectors that will see some exciting and much needed innovation in the next few years.” With a huge heart and incredible drive for uplifting others, there is no doubt that Naimeesha will continue to have a positive impact.