Q&A: Lisa Lee, Pandora’s Diversity Program Manager

By Julia Love
San Jose Mercury News.

Lisa Lee wound up in Silicon Valley almost by accident.

Although she had envisioned a career in the arts, Lee applied to work at Facebook after stumbling upon a job opening. There, she found her calling by helping the social networking site diversify its ranks. She’s now leading that charge at Pandora, where she is the company’s first diversity program manager.

Last year, Pandora joined a wave of Silicon Valley companies that revealed the makeup of their workforces. The music streaming site said that about 70 percent of its U.S. employees are white, standing in stark contrast to its Oakland surroundings. Its gender statistics, however, are something of a bright spot: Nearly half of U.S. employees are female, though their numbers are smaller in technical roles and leadership.

In a recent chat with this newspaper, Lee discussed how Pandora has managed to attract and retain women and the importance of transparency. The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Q: What has been your experience like working in Silicon Valley as an Asian-American woman?

A: For the first couple of years when I was working at Facebook, I was very, very involved with community work outside of work. For me, Facebook was really less of a network and more of a job. I would get in, work my 10-to-6, clock out and go and conduct my nonprofit meetings. Looking back on that time, I think there was probably a lot of relationship-building that I missed out on. I think that went on to serve some of my colleagues really well from a networking standpoint and their career trajectories. It was a pretty tight-knit place. I never really felt like I was a core part of that, but I think that was by choice. What I was really invested in was doing the community work.

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