Airbnb's first female engineer talks differences between the US and India
Mona Gandhi has experience working as the first female engineer in American startups like Airbnb. After her time in the Silicon Valley, she moved to India to build Upraised, a platform to train product managers in the nation's startup ecosystem.
After working in both countries, Gandhi has some interesting takeaways on the differences between the two work cultures.
As expected, she says that Silicon Valley has a greater focus on quality as the older and more experienced startup hub. It gives them a bigger edge to continuously innovate, as they don't have to worry about maintenance and quality control every few months.
Additionally, as the oldest startup hub in the world, Silicon Valley's diversity in teams gives employees a whole new appreciation of the world, compared to Indian startups that are largely hiring other Indians only.
Finally, she also makes the point that Indians have trouble with communication, and it is one of the first things that need to be screened for in India compared to America.
However, on the flip side, Gandhi says, Indian startups have a better hustle culture. While American employees are bounded by both internal red tape and the fear of deportation should they accidentally bend a law with their innovation, Indian companies are constantly looking for that next edge and are not worried about unnecessary compliance.
Additionally, despite the critique on communication skills, Gandhi says the networking culture in India is far more open. While in America, reaching out to people you don't know is a social faux pas, in India, it is the norm to personally communicate with someone you've only met twice or thrice.
Gandhi also talks about the differences in vacation days, where American go on trips and Indians largely celebrate family functions, and employee relations with personal wealth, when Indians are less financially independent due to the prevalence of joint families. However, she doesn't comment on how either make a difference to the workplace, only that they are different.