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Amy Buckner Chowdhry

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Amy Buckner Chowdhry, the founder and CEO of digital user experience consultancy AnswerLab, began her career headed in an entirely different direction – namely, eastward. In 1995, after graduating magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University with a major In English Literature and minors in East Asian Studies and Japanese, Buckner Chowdhry headed to Hoakkaido, Japan to teach English through a JET program. Her intention was to completely immerse herself in Japanese culture and become fluent in Japanese, with aspirations to become an academic or publisher of Japanese authors. When she returned three years later, her mother introduced her to a CEO of an online learning startup in San Francisco, an introduction that completely changed the course of her life.

After her return from Japan, Buckner Chowdhry worked for nine months as the Marketing Manger of Larcen Strayer Consulting before joining online learning startup SmartPlanet as a user experience manger. In August 2000 she joined Vividence Corporation as the director of profession services. During her nearly four years at Vividence she worked with AnswerLab co-founder Dan Clifford. Having built some knowledge at Vividence of methods for gauging and improving digital user experiences, the two wanted to try to build a more complete user experience tool kit. In October 2004 they founded AnswerLab in an attempt to meet the growing needs of an increasingly digital society. The company has been helping the world’s leading brands improve the user experience of their digital products for more than a decade, serving major companies including Google, FedEx and Walmart. As of 214, AnswerLab has earned a spot on the Inc. 500/5000 lists of fastest-growing private companies in the nation, as well as the San Francisco Business Times’ list of the top 100 fastest growing companies, for six consecutive years. Thanks to a consciously supportive company culture, they spent three consecutive years on Fortune’s list of the Top 25 Companies to Work For. In fact, their company culture keeps employees so thriving and happy that in 2012 AnswerLab had seen three years with zero employee turn over.

Amy’s strong leadership at AnswerLab has earned her numerous honors. She has been named by Ernst & Young as one of 10 “Entrepreneurial Winning Women.” The San Francisco Business Times included her on their “40 Under 40” list of emerging leaders in 2012, and the Watermark organization recognized her on their 2013 top 10 list of “Women Who Have Made Their Mark.” In 2014, she was named one of Fortune’s 10 Most Promising Women Entrepreneurs. In addition to her work as the head of AnswerLab, Amy is active with the Susan B. Komen Foundation, serving on the board of the San Francisco Affiliate in a variety of roles, including President, Vice-President, and Fundraising Chair.

Companies and Investments

AnswerLab (Co-founder, CEO), Vividence Corporation (Director of Professional Services), SmartPlanet (User Experience Manager), Larcen Strayer Consulting (Marketing Manager), Muroran Board of Education (Instructor/Cross-Cultural Consultant)

Susan B. Komen for the Cure San Francisco Affiliate (President of the Board, Vice-President, Fundraising Chair)

Lessons Learned

From an ethics and integrity standpoint, it’s a no-brainer to care about employee happiness. But it’s also good for the business overall. If our team is happy and contented, those feelings will reflect in our client’s experience. An employee who isn’t feeling her best won’t have the energy to bring her best to the office every day. Employee happiness is also the key to retention, particularly in an extremely competitive job market like in Silicon Valley. (Amy Buckner Chowdhry, on employee happiness and company culture, in an interview with Womenetics)

The biggest barrier truly for me was not stepping out of the day to day. If I could start all over again, I would have hired our smartest, most senior people first and had them run the rest of the business while I stepped out of it and focused on growing it and setting the vision and the strategy for it. I spent a good couple years still doing the front-line research myself until we got big enough, then slowly but surely started hiring people. (Buckner Chowdhry, on learning to delegate in order to focus on the big picture, in an interview with Smart Business Online)

Inspiring Quotes

That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.

Friedrich Nietzsche

Amy Buckner Chowdhry's Quotes

Companies that place a high value on digital user experience dominate their markets.

Amy Buckner Chowdhry

My personal fulfillment comes from seeing our teams thrive and be the best they can be.

Amy Buckner Chowdhry

Think holistically about your employees – not just about their careers but about their fulfillment as human beings.

Amy Buckner Chowdhry

Influential Books