By seizing every opportunity and braving every risk, Anne Toth ’93 earned the title of Vice President of People and Policy at Slack, a messaging and group work application. Upon graduation Toth believed she wanted to pursue a career in law, but after hands-on experience at a law firm, she realized that world wasn’t for her. Nevertheless, she knew her love for policy had not changed. After obtaining her Masters in Public Policy (MPP) from UC Berkeley, she went on to do research in economics. Soon afterward, she got a call from a friend asking her if she would be interested in joining Yahoo.
She made the move to Yahoo, a move that was both a complete change in direction and the start of a fruitful new technological career. After working for almost thirteen years at Yahoo in the General Counsel and then as Chief Trust Officer, she left for Google and worked as the Head of Privacy and Policy.
“I wanted to do something new. At Yahoo, it was thirteen years because every day was a new product, an evolution of questions around what content is appropriate to show somebody … Every day we were learning something different about what we were doing,” Toth explained.
She switched to Google when she felt as though could not learn anything more at Yahoo. Unfortunately, Toth left Google after a little over a year due to a family emergency.
When Toth began her own firm Privacyworks, she was able to utilize the skills she had acquired while working at Yahoo and Google to guide companies in dealing with data and privacy.
Now at Slack she heads both Privacy and People Operations. Although Toth has dealt with privacy for most of her career, with Slack, she gets to learn and do something new.
“I get to be the architect of its diversity inclusion program. I get to think about the values of the company, and what kind of company it wants to be,” she said.
Taking on the tech world — a male dominated industry — was not something Toth struggled with. She had been in other situations where men had comprised of the majority before, as well. Toth attended the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Northern Virginia. As one of the few girls in her advanced level math and physics classes, Toth understood early on what it meant to be a part of the minority.
This is why a women’s college appealed to her. It took just a visit for Toth to know that Wellesley was the place for her. “The idea of going to a place where I wouldn’t be a minority seemed revolutionary,” Toth said. During her time at Wellesley, Toth was involved in House Council as an RA in Davis, in College Government as HP-Liaison and in the economics department doing research under Professor Philip Levine. In fact, her interest in policy was sparked while doing research in labor economics under Professor Levine.
For most of her career, Toth worked under women, until she arrived at Slack. When asked about the most valuable lesson she learned from Wellesley, she responded, “Oh, to be a nasty woman, of course!”
Toth also gained the confidence to speak up in a field full of men, the ability to ask for what she wanted when she wanted it and the strength to know what she deserved.
“The best thing about Wellesley was walking into a room and you absolutely know you are the least smart person in the room,” she said.
She’s found all these skills come in handy at Silicon Valley. One of the valuable life lessons Toth took away from her time at Wellesley is that not having a plan is okay. Toth credits her career decisions to not having a rigid plan.
“Everything about my career had been opportunistic,” she said. “Nothing in my career was carefully planned out.”
Toth came into Wellesley with a plan: law. Soon after, she realized that following passion, rather than steps, was what would lead her to happiness.