Clara Shih

Clara Shih

CEO and founder, Hearsay Systems Inc.

In the mid-2000s, Clara Shih developed an application that helps businesses manage and develop insights from social media connections. The financial industry took notice.

“Financial advisers and financial firms begged us to create a compliant version,” she said.

As a result, Ms. Shih became the founding CEO of Hearsay Social in 2009. The company has recently rebranded itself as Hearsay Systems Inc. and it provides additional services for developing compliant websites and compliant text messaging.

“Advisers were viewing social media as a regulatory problem, but we saw it as a business opportunity,” Ms. Shih said. “On a basic level, we enabled them to establish a digital presence on any channel. We were able to connect the dots and give them a 360-degree view of their clients and what matters to them.”

The application has been adopted by about 150,000 users in 22 countries, primarily from wirehouses and large broker-dealers, she said.

Ms. Shih, 34, earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in computer science at Stanford University. She also earned a master's in internet studies at the University of Oxford.

Her creative thinking doesn’t stop at her company. Ms. Shih has been on the Starbucks Corp. board of directors since December 2011, and she also works to empower young women through her involvement with Girls Inc. She serves as a mentor, donor, guest speaker and organizational adviser.

“Girls are the world’s most untapped resource and undervalued community,” she said.

– Deborah Nason