Episode 50: Making Her Mark In Austin Tech Through Innovation In Digital Marketing And Search

Hello listeners, and welcome back to Tech Forward! My guest today is Upasna Gautam, the Manager of SEO at Ziff Davis, where she architects and executes the organic search strategies for Mashable and PCMag. Upasna (or Pas, as she is more commonly known) has unique experience in mathematics, science and search that allowed her to bring a truly logical and analytical approach to digital marketing. An avid proponent of community, nature, and wellness, she’s also a Fitness and Zumba instructor, aspiring yogi, and hiker. Today we’ll be talking about her work in search, the things she loves about the Austin tech community, and some of the inspiring work she’s been doing to encourage more women and girls to pursue careers in STEM.

Like many guests on the show, Pas’ path to her current role was not a traditional one. Though she came from a biomedical background as a clinical research scientist, she had a strong desire to get involved in the world of digital marketing. She took on an unpaid internship as a digital strategist, analyzing data to inform marketing strategy, and quickly became a full time employee of the small marketing firm. Despite not having studied business or marketing in college, she brought a unique perspective to her work which made her extremely valuable. Her ability to seamlessly merge both the subjective and objective sides of marketing and analytics gave her a keen insight into how marketing can and should work at its optimal level.

These skills have served her well in her current role at Ziff Davis. As an enormous digital publisher with roots in traditional publishing, Ziff Davis was able to successfully shift to a fully digital presence. Pas ascribes that success partly to the editorial integrity of the content. Her work in SEO is cross-disciplinary, in that she works both with the editors to increase visibility on their content, as well as with the product and engineering teams to build a strong framework for the website. “Other publishers may have let the ball drop over time in order to monetize. You cannot compromise there. We’ve build up authority over time, both in real life and in the digital world, which definitely helps in a search ecosystem.”

When it comes to encouraging more women and girls to pursue careers in STEM, Pas’ mission is all about changing the narrative. Citing the old familiar stereotype of a scientist as a man in a lab coat, she says, “There are preconceived notions that have been embedded in all of us. This isn’t an issue of skill or ability. It’s a lack of encouragement and role models… We can’t show other women what to do and what to be if they can’t see it.” As a woman in STEM, working for a company with above average gender diversity in executive roles, she considers it her responsibility to live this role visibly, and have these conversations as often as possible. “The more we show it, the more it’s visible, and the more we can transform those stereotypes.”

Pas, thank you so much for coming onto the show and sharing all the work you’re doing with our listeners. Thank you, also, to everyone out there listening, sharing, and reviewing the show. See you next week!

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