How This Nigerian Woman Became One of the Most Powerful Execs in Silicon Valley
At AfroTech, we’re always on the lookout for Black women in senior leadership roles in the tech industry. So, imagine my delight when I had the good fortune of meeting Dara Treseder, Chief Marketing Officer at Carbon 3D.
You may remember that we spoke to her about Carbon 3D’s partnership with adidas to 3D print their new line of athletic shoes. This time, we wanted to learn about Treseder’s history and professional path.
Treseder was born and raised in Ibadan, Nigeria. The word “Ibadan” means “between the forest and the plains.” However, in high school, she got the opportunity to attend boarding school in the U.K. at Cheltenham Ladies College.
At Cheltenham, she studied mathematics, biology, and chemistry, fully intending to pursue a scientific career. Occasional holidays in the U.S. also convinced her that she wanted to attend university in America.
“In my boarding school in the U.K., you had sort of aristocrats, and England can sometimes be a very classist environment even till today. But I had the opportunity to visit some of my parents’ friends in America, and it was so different,” Dara said. “Everybody wanted to be self-made in America. Everybody wanted to do something, contribute something be somebody [that] changed the world, and that really resonated with me.”
Life at Harvard
Ironically, it was at Harvard that Treseder experienced the cultural awakening that would set her on her current path. In her boarding school in the U.K., she was one of only three Black girls in her class. At Harvard, Treseder gained more Black peers than she’d ever had before, and she became intensely curious about the Black American experience. Her curiosity only intensified after taking Intro to African American Studies with acclaimed professors Dr. Henry Louis Gates and Evelyn Higginbotham. She then switched gears, and her major, to African American Studies.
With this new major, she wasn’t quite sure what professional path she would take after college. However, one day at school, she followed a sign for free food and found herself in a Goldman Sachs recruitment event. Dara would eventually complete multiple internships at Goldman Sachs, rotating through several of their departments.
During one of her internships, Treseder recalls a senior person at Goldman saying to her: “You’re good at investment banking, but you know what you’re really great at? You’re really great at marketing.”
This statement annoyed her at first because she knew that the investment bankers were the company’s high earners. However, she internalized the advice and took the opportunity to explore Goldman’s marketing operations. In retrospect, she realizes that this was one of the initial nudges that changed her career trajectory.
“That was ultimately how I got into marketing and strategy and business, and I’ve kind of been in this my whole career,” she said.
Transition to Tech
Treseder also attended Stanford Business School, where she realized that she “loved building and leading great companies.”
“I love tech because you know, growing up in Nigeria, I saw how mobile technology, leap-frogged and transformed our economy. We went from not even landlines really working, to almost everyone having a mobile phone, and it’s transformed people’s lives,” she said. “I want to be in the field that is pushing all of us forward.”
Entrepreneurship in Africa
Treseder is particularly excited to see Africa’s tech economy flourish. She explained that the rise of entrepreneurship in Nigeria is beneficial because they are creating solutions to solve problems in Africa and beyond.
She also challenges Silicon Valley entrepreneurs to look beyond “champagne problems” and create products that can meaningfully improve the human experience.
Work at Carbon 3D
Treseder’s accomplishments at Carbon 3D have been nothing short of spectacular. She helped produce a series of videos for the #ProtectItAll campaign — a partnership between Carbon and Riddell — for the Super Bowl. The campaign was a roaring success and helped Carbon establish its Performance and Protection business.
Additionally, she helped produce Crafted by Carbon, the 3D-printing industry’s first ingredient brand, along with a marketing campaign to demonstrate Carbon’s commitment to meeting their clients’ and the planet’s needs through superior engineering.
Even with all her accomplishments, Treseder rejects the title of “role model.”
“I don’t think anyone should have any role models,” she said. “Someone messaged me one day saying ‘You’re so inspiring, you motivate me so much. I really hope to be like you one day,’ and I replied, ‘You will be better because you will be you.'”
However, she does have a bit of advice for young professionals looking to make it to the top of their fields: “Be intellectually curious. Ask the question. Even at this level, I’m still learning and we’re all still learning.”