Empowering Ambition: Erika Mahterian’s Journey from Finance to Tech Mentorship

Erika Mahterian is the Head of experience and Co-Founder at Leland, a marketplace company based in Lehi and at Stanford University. Leland provides personalized guidance and expert coaching to aid ambitious individuals in career and higher educational pursuits. Leland differs from historical college and career coaching firms because they are not only accessible but also personalized and transparent.

Leland finds the perfect fit for you through an advanced coach matching process which includes an intro call, coach reviews, and clear pricing from the beginning. With over 500 coaches to choose from, Leland is a cutting-edge resource for those seeking higher education guidance or making a seamless transition from academia to fulfilling professional pathways. Erika has always been heavily involved in her community.

While working towards her BS in Finance degree at Brigham Young University, Erika started the Women in Finance Association, was on the founding team of the BYU Tech Club, and had various other club leadership positions. Her senior year at BYU, Erika co-started a nonprofit, ALPHA, alongside her friends to aid underprivileged youth to get into top colleges, have access to mentorship and coaching, and even created a scholarship fund for first-generation students. This experience opened the door for John Koelliker (Co-Founder at Leland) to reach out and offer Erika the chance to help start Leland along his side, in addition to a third Co-Founder, Zando Ward. Erika had a strong passion and cared about the education coaching space. This was a natural next step. 

Even before her college years, Erika was very ambitious and was always starting clubs and participating in extracurriculars. Joining Leland and working as a coach on the platform has put her in an exciting position where she is able to pay it forward, working with students with similar ambitions and goals as her highschool self and is able to help them achieve success. As a woman in tech, Erika has mentored many young women wanting to get into the tech space and not knowing how. We can fully attest to this mentorship as we immediately felt how supportive and uplifting Erika is. In the few weeks we have known her, she has already become a valuable mentor to us and helps us try and achieve our own goals in tech. 

Erika prides herself in being approachable to all but especially the underdog. Through her leadership positions she has made an effort to always be understanding and available. She cares a great deal for her team and always looks for opportunities to help the next generation underdog – people like us – and those seeking additional mentorship.

When speaking with Erika, she spoke to her debilitating fear of failure early on in her career and how she’s worked hard to overcome it. This fear of failure has caused her to miss many great opportunities that she now regrets, so she actively works hard to avoid feeling this same sentiment again and to now see rejection as an opportunity. Fear of rejection is real and we all feel it, especially as young adults barely entering the tech field. It's scary to put yourself out there and pursue opportunities that seem unattainable. Erika taught us to embrace any rejection that may come our way, learn from it, and then continue to have high standards for ourselves.

Erika advises high school students to use the time in high school and early college years to gain exposure to a wide array of fields and topics. It is hard to be what you cannot see, she advises. First and foremost, gaining exposure to many possible fields is crucial when searching for a passion, says Erika. Make the choice that will be best for you and your future and not just something you have seen before out of convenience or from lack of exposure to alternatives. Secondly, it is crucial to understand and embrace the principle: “Where much is given, much is required.” If you have been blessed and fortunate with opportunities and circumstances that have led to success, make sure that you give back and pay it forward, especially in your own community. Provide the underdog a chance at success and growth. Finally, “Bloom where you are planted.” Always make the most out of your situation and take advantage. Get involved, learn from others, and thrive in your environments by taking control of your life.

Interviewing Erika was a pleasure. Learning from her was life changing. She inspired us to embrace every opportunity and to look out for those who need extra support. Erika is a valuable mentor, friend, and an amazing example to us. She helped shift our perception about what it means to be a woman in STEM. She demonstrated an ideal of women in STEM careers experiencing a welcoming, warm and supportive environment rather than an isolating, harsh and competitive one. We are so thankful to have met Erika and to have formed such a strong friendship and we look forward to following Erika’s career and her future successes.

For more background information about Leland, its other founders and investors, see Mattea Gygi's TechBuzz profile article from May 11, 2022.




TechBuzz welcomes again the contributions of SheTech media interns, Ava and Kira, who are high school seniors attending Karl G. Maeser Preparatory Academy in Utah County. Ava and Kira are involved in many different STEM activities at Maeser: taking coding and IT classes, serving as SheTech ambassadors, attending Women Tech Council events and board meetings. As part of their media internship, Ava and Kira connect with tech leaders in Utah, including 2023 Women Tech Award finalists and awardees. Look out for future interviews by Ava and Kira published on SheTech social media, TechBuzz News, Silicon Slopes Community, and other media channels. For more information about SheTech, see Ava's February 2023 article in TechBuzz.

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