Get Comfortable with Playing What If: An Interview with Nina Bhatti

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Today one of our speakers from BlogHer Entrepreneurs answered a couple of interview questions as we continue to near the conference in Silicon Valley next week. Nina Bhatti is currently the founder of a mobile technology start-up in stealth mode. Doesn't that just sound cool? She was previously the Principal Scientist for HP Labs. She'll be speaking on our How Do Engineers Hire Developers panel on Day Two of the conference.

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I asked her two questions and she shared some must-read bits and pieces that may inspire you before the conference.

Having filed over 35 technology patents, I feel safe saying that you're quite the innovator. Did you always have a passion for creating or was that something that came through your work?

Nina BhattiFiling patents is just a very public way of showing innovation. As a research scientist publications and patents are typical. I am someone who is very comfortable with playing "what if" and I'm not afraid to be the first in an area and look for "green field". I know I'm not someone who enjoying mining an area after a zillion people have gone through it. That's not my skill. My skill is in seeing a unspoken need first and then addressing it with technology. But no matter how clever you think your idea -- who will care, and what will be better are the most important questions about any innovation.

Did you ever have a great mentoring experience -- either as a mentor or as a mentee? Could you share a bit with us?

Sometimes we are mentored by a situation or a person. But they don't come dressed up with a sign that says "I'm here to mentor you", instead it's sometimes a painful process of asking you to leave your comfort zone. I call these mentors, "challenge mentors". They make me do something I have never done before. They push you, and that can be scary. But they also encourage you, they say "I think you can do it". One of my mentors said "you're capable of more, go in there and make something great happen" as he thrust me into a horrible dysfunctional team to "fix it". It led me to take chances in ways I had never done. So for me mentors do 2 things:

  • 1) they challenge me to do what I didn't think I could, i.e. they ask me why I'm not rising to the challenge.
  • 2) they tell me that they believe in me and I can do it.

With those words -- they trust me out there and I learn to swim in new waters. But they are there when I get stuck and I've also learned to find mentors who are "support mentors". But the "challenge mentors" have been key to my leadership growth.

As Nina's start-up is still in stealth mode, I can't share any of that information with you at this time. But she will be speaking on the How Do Engineers Hire Developers panel on Friday from 3:15-4:15 pm. Here's more about the panel itself:

How do you make sure you're hiring the right developer for the job when you aren’t an engineer yourself? Learn from Alicia Navarro of Skimlinks, Nelly Yusupova of WebGrrls International, Nina Bhatti, former Principal Scientist, HP Labs, and Gabrielle Toledano of EA how they interview developers… including what they may *miss* that you won't!

Not registered yet for BlogHer Entrepreneurs '13? Register now and take that first step toward your dreams!


Family/Moms & Events Section Editor Jenna Hatfield (@FireMom) blogs at Stop, Drop and Blog and The Chronicles of Munchkin Land.