Women at the Top of Their Fields
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
In an ever more globalized world, these women have succeeded at home and abroad.
Can women have it all? Well, they certainly can rack up the passport pages — and get to the top of their fields along the way. Herein, OZY’s tales of peripatetic women who also kick ass.
Just 32, roving human rights defender Jennifer Robinson has probably had more experience on WikiLeaks’ legal defense team than any other lawyer. She grew up in Berry, Australia, a country town, and now lives in London, where she visits with Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy regularly. But her formative experience took place in West Papau in the early 2000s. It was there that Robinson, now 32, started standing up for dissidents, whistle-blowers and activists who’ve suffered for challenging power. One of the West Papuans she helped was Benny Wenda, a leader of the movement for independence from Indonesia, which has kept the region under brutal military control for more than 50 years.
In addition to her work on the Assange case, Robinson works for the Bertha Foundation, traveling around the world to meet leading human rights lawyers and to match them up with aspiring, ambitious ones. At 32, Robinson has a long career ahead of her. Some speculate she could end up Prime Minister of Australia, but whatever happens, OZY thinks she might just be the new face of human rights law.
Raised in Sao Paulo, educated at MIT and part of a great wave of Silicon Valley migrants, Bel Pesce refers to herself as a “passionate entrepreneur” — and boy, is the 25-year-old devout. She’s a world, and work, traveler: She’s worked at Microsoft, Deutsche Bank, video company Ooyala and electronic wallet app Lemon. Her 2012 Portuguese e-book,The Girl From Silicon Valley: How Entrepreneurship Can Change Lives, is a bestseller. Pesce knew she wanted to keep motivating people, so she made the difficult decision to leave her job and move back to Brazil. There, she’s leading the motivation industry, with a brick-and-mortar innovation institute called FazINOVA that teaches real-life entrepreneurial skills like negotiation, self-promotion and business development. Naturally, she hopes to take the business global.
In the process, Wennmachers has become the secret weapon of Silicon Valley’s hottest VC firm. Her own secret weapon? It might be how she has adopted the United States as a second country. She refers to immigrants as “underrated,” even while demurring that the notion might sound self-serving coming from her. For immigrants, she says, everything is an upside. “You’re not entitled, you’re not expecting anything and you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. This is what makes the United States special. When you come here, once you get your green card or citizenship, they really want you here. They do their vetting and then they say welcome and go nuts. Go to town. No other country does that.”Or, how a German immigrant made herself, and remade the venture-capital industry. Margit Wennmachers has transformed marketing from something Silicon Valley execs once sneered at to something crucial. “It’s been fascinating to watch,” Matt Marshall, founder and editor-in-chief of Venture Beat, says via email of the swift rise of Andreessen Horowitz. “[W]hat it has done is nothing short of brilliant. Every single move it makes is orchestrated carefully, to push more PR spin.”
The United States has welcomed Margit Wennmachers, and in return she has spun quite a web of talent around Silicon Valley, cultivating strong ties and connecting power players in technology along the way. You can almost see the spin, spin, spin.