inspiration · women who reign

Women Who Reign: Alyssa Pohahau

“I need to listen well so that I hear what is not said.” – Thuli Madonsela


Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
Hi, my name is Alyssa. I was born and raised in the Bay Area. After high school, I moved forty miles north to study Computer Science and Mathematics at the University of San Francisco. During my time there, I was introduced to Square, where I attended their College Code Camp and joined as a Software Engineer after graduation. I spent my first 20 months at Square SF on our Platform Engineering team and recently moved to the NYC office to join our Payments Engineering team. I’m also the lead of Square’s Women in Engineering group, nicknamed WomEng.

Fun fact: I played jazz saxophone for about ten years. I’m now learning classical piano.

What # would define your life journey?


February 2009: I’m on the far right


Favorite website / app:
Instagram. I love following high end fashion houses (e.g., Balmain and Givenchy) on this app. Instagram has allowed these houses to be less exclusive, as you don’t have to have a seat at a show to see what’s on the runway. Also, the head of the houses usually have their own personal account which makes the brand feel more personable. In addition to following fashion houses, I also find interior design inspiration through furniture stores and interior designers (e.g., CB2 and Jonathan Adler) which helps me while I decorate my new studio.

Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted (if any):
The positivity and strength of my mom inspires me. She has always told me “everything will work out,” which has helped me through some of my hardest times. She’s always been there for me afterwards to celebrate, and I love and appreciate her more than words can say.

Song that makes you want to dance:
One Dance – Drake

Technical challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
In general, a challenge that I’ve faced in the technical world is feeling like I work too slow when learning something new. I’ve learned to not worry about working slowly at first, just make sure that you’re more efficient the next time around, and so forth. After all, you have to know how to walk before you run.

Ideal Job:
Right now I’m working my ideal job! I’m early on in my career, and I’m surrounded by many people to learn from.

In the future, I’d like to mix my love for engineering and fashion/interior design.

What advice do you have for other women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
I encourage you to learn from others outside of your team. For example, write about root causes of bugs or downtime of your service, even if you don’t understand it completely at first. Writing it out will force you to understand the root cause more, maybe learn from the other teams if they were involved, and improve your technical writing skills. Last but not least, share your write up in a forum you see fit.

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