In the world of today, women have excelled in several fields and at different levels – right from managing the companies, leading teams to driving marketing campaigns, while at the same time managing household chores and balancing the families. Women are nowadays leading companies, flying aircraft, and even venturing into space. They have successfully risen above the cliché levels in education, technology, science, and other walks of life.
It is a growing trend across the world that many organizations are hiring women to the leadership roles which were considered as traditional strongholds of men. It has been noticed that women gifted at excelling in soft skills and this is an inevitable choice for many leadership roles.
Organizations all over the world are ensuring that talented women could climb into management positions. Managements are now growing more and more open-minded to allow female leaders to reach the top positions.
A growing number of women are taking up leadership roles at the Indian units of global technology firms. Today we also find many women leaders with engineering and technology backgrounds drive tech roles, not just business functions and service operations.
We at Mobility India, have interacted with some women leaders of the country’s leading technology firms who have shared their experiences and journey.
Women today are on the top of the corporate world. How do you strike a balance between work and home?
Ms. Darshana Jain, CEO of Snapper Future Tech, a global services & technology products company, leading digital transformation for enterprises using blockchain (she is also the Regional Chair for FIBREE (Foundation for International Blockchain and Real Estate Expertise)., “The key to a balanced life is the right time management while handling family issues as well as official activities. I achieve this by encouraging everyone I work with to come prepared for our meetings so that meetings could be focused, short and productive. I love spending time with my two kids and enjoy quality time with them, which is the only unstructured and but important time of the day for me. I come from a family of entrepreneurs and we are all very mindful of the demands a business makes on an entrepreneur’s time, so we all work together to help each other. I wouldn’t have been able to strike such a fine balance without the support of my family and friends.”
According to Ms. Mahima Tandon, Senior Engineering Program Manager, Honeywell Technology Solutions, who operates in four areas of business: aerospace, building technologies, performance materials and technologies, and safety and productivity solutions, says, “There is no perfect answer or a solution for the so-called work and home balance. It is about exuding the right emotional energy at both places. Deliberate choices do not guarantee complete control. Despite all the planning, your child can have a high fever on the day you are presenting to the CTO. However, to the best of our ability, both need to be managed parallelly. One need not be plugged in at all times if we plan well and delegate smartly to ensure delivery does not suffer. It is always preferred to avoid any surprises and keep the team and manager well-informed.”
Ms. Seema Bhatnagar, Regional Business Director South Asia and Country GM, Nexstgo Limited, “Conviction and Confidence are essential to find the right equilibrium between professional and personal life. As women, we have been multitasking for ages, and when it came to finding the right balance between work and home, it never seemed like a daunting task to me. I have always handled work and household chores as a part of my mundane routine and never felt it difficult to handle both at the same time.”
Ms. Lekha K.K., Associate Vice President, and Digital Practice Head, QuEST Global, a product engineering company in the Hi-Tech & Industrial, Medical Devices, Oil & Gas, Power, and Transportation verticals, “While balancing between work and home is a tough thing to achieve, I am able to do it to the extent possible. It is about getting your priorities straight, and I try to practice a model of agile integration in my daily life.”
Ms. Rituparna Mandal, GM, MediaTek, a fabless semiconductor company that provides chips for wireless communications, high-definition television, handheld mobile devices, shares, “Women are excelling in every sector and the technology domain is no different. With the advent of hybrid work, women employees like everyone else are enjoying the freedom and flexibility to work from anywhere as per their convenience.”
What are the challenges faced during your journey?
Ms. Jain of Snapper Future Tech, “The difficulties I faced were the same as those that any other entrepreneur goes through when starting out irrespective of gender, but one of the challenges I personally faced in my journey was that I had no access to female mentors. That support network was missing and most of the time, I had to learn to trust my own voice. That apart, I’ve not been treated differently because of my gender. The reality is that not so long ago, men commanded a seat at the table with more ease than women, but that is slowly changing. In fact, I’ve been privy to that change by being given the privilege to be accorded multiple opportunities to work on various boards, associations, and committees. At the time, when so few women could be seen in the leadership positions across certain domains, I felt a great sense of achievement to be the first woman to be elected to the executive committee of the Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Associations of India (CREDAI) — in a sector mostly dominated by men. I was lucky enough to be mentored by the right people which has made my entrepreneurial journey comparatively easier.”
Ms. Tandon of Honeywell Technology Solutions, “Starting as an engineer, the one challenge I can recall is ensuring that I am constantly learning and not getting stuck in my comfort zone. In my last 18 years at Honeywell India, I worked across 8 business groups, each having distinct portfolios and that helped me synergize my knowledge across products and processes. Another challenge I remember facing was about a decade ago where global stakeholders were more like customers to us and we had to constantly work in a service mode. The service mode imposes some extra role of being constantly innovative and taking new execution decisions. Today, at Honeywell, we are now respected as a ‘design center’ where we take our own design and commercial decisions which is very challenging as well as empowering. Also, when the kids were small, there was a feeling of guilt of spending less time with them and missing some of the special moments. However, now with the children have grown up, they look up to me as a mentor, role-model and it makes all the sacrifices worthwhile.”
Ms. Seema Bhatnagar of VAIO, “Talking about the challenges as a woman, learning was the major challenge I had to face in the men-dominated world during the nascent stages of my career. My focus to grow and stand out with my extraordinary work has been a motivation throughout my career. Today, I believe the world is more welcoming of women leaders with open arms than ever. I feel blessed that my work is being recognized, and today, being the Regional Business Director South Asia and Country General Manager India for Nexstgo Company limited makes me proud of my work and conviction towards the craft. I have a lot of men working in my team, and that has never been a point to raise eyebrows for me anymore.”
Ms. Lekha of QuEST Global was born in a remote village in Kerala and during those days, women pursuing higher education was not the norm in those parts. She was the first woman from her village to go for higher studies and become an engineer. Ms. Lekha, “Having a very independent personality, I made sure that I scout for scholarship opportunities and utilize them to educate myself. While this led to some opposition from my extended family, I could overcome those challenges and complete my education. I am proud to have inspired other girls from my village to pursue different streams and take up opportunities in many fields, including engineering.”
Ms Rituparna Mandal, GM, MediaTek, adds, “My journey from a circuit design engineer to being Director of Advanced CPU and Foundation IP Technology, to being and General Manager, MediaTek Bangalore, was full of demanding situations and challenges along the way.”
How did your family support your dreams?
Ms Jain of Snapper Future Tech comes from a conservative Marwadi family where women were never meant to do business. She adds, “I’ve always had a strong rebel streak that has stood me in good stead through my entrepreneurial journey. Right out of college, I was hired by Zensar Technologies and I’ve never looked back since. I completed my master’s in Software Sciences in the US after I got married. My husband is a great source of inspiration and support for me. My family has been an essential part of my life as much as my work is, and although it’s been a great journey.”
Ms Tandon of Honeywell shares that she always wanted to become a working professional and this dream has been respected and encouraged by her family and children. She shares, “I encourage my family to be more independent managing their day-to-day chores maturely. It is important to be surrounded by a family which supports your dreams. I also had an encouraging and cooperating set of friends and support staff. I have never hesitated to ask for help when I have conflicting priorities: this actually allows our family to know exactly how to help us and reduces a lot of the pressures on us. There is no value in trying to be a super-woman. Lastly, while our families support us, it is equally important to show appreciation to family, having a dedicated connect time with them accompanied with healthy communication.”
Ms Seema Bhatnagar of VAIO says that she is lucky to be a part of a joint family, where everyone has been so supportive at every stage of her career. She goes on to say, “When my kids were young, my in-laws took care of them so that I could never get late for work. Even when I had to travel outstation for work, I never faced any challenges from them.”
Ms. Lekha of QuEST Global, “It is especially important to create a support group across professional and personal circles to succeed as a woman leader. My immediate family has been supportive from the very start of my career. They understand the role that I play professionally in the organization and encourage me to do what I love the most. For any woman leader to be successful, men play an essential part, and my husband has been that pillar of support. I also look at my professional circle as a family, and they have been very supportive as I grew in my career. Their mentorship helped me balance between work and family and enabled me to follow my dreams.”
Ms. Rituparna Mandal, GM, MediaTek, “My family made sure I never lost faith in myself and always motivated me to strive harder and do better. Fortunately, I did not have to face any stereotypical biases. Being committed to my work helped me cross all the hurdles that life placed in my way. For me balancing work and home have always been about choosing priorities as having strict boundaries between work and home, however, it is very difficult to achieve this balance in a demanding career. I always scraped out time, even on the busiest workdays, to be with my family, friends, and my beloved pets! It is these chunks of quality time I spend with them that keep me going and help me realize my aspirations.”
Soft skills and emotional intelligence may prove a key competitive advantage for women in business. Women have created a cliché in varied roles in strategy, engineering, business development, sales, marketing, etc.
“The pandemic has further accelerated the need to address gender equity within organisations – and it starts with businesses ensuring the fair treatment of women in alignment with their needs and ensuring they feel valued at their workplace. The reality is that the tech industry still struggles with representation. At Zendesk, women make up 37% of our workforce in the APAC region and 31% of our global leadership teams. While we’ve made great strides, we know there’s always more work to be done.
“Numerous articles have been written about dealing with the pandemic and how we evolved work & management principles. Especially in the field of technology, women have led the effort in making empathy a key enabler in adjusting to remote work – empathy among colleagues, families, friends and the society at large. Let’s shine a spotlight on these stories of leadership, strength and resilience shown by women all over the world. Let’s internalize, amplify and celebrate these stories to spread more hope and empowerment. ,“Vineetha Vijayakumar, Head of Product & Program, Esper.io.
“At 75F, women hold essential leadership positions. One of the key goals of 75F is to encourage more women in technical and leadership roles as we truly believe that a highly diverse team is fundamental to a company’s ability to innovate and stay relevant. 75F also believes that having a diverse and inclusive environment is not optional; rather it is a must-have to hold women talent and make a huge difference in our product. 75F values women by encouraging them to integrate the culture, diversity and inclusion principles into all facets of the company life cycle, thus ensuring a stronger company,” Shilpa Basappa, Associate Director – Engineering, 75F.
“The theme of International Women’s Day this year is #ChooseToChallenge. It’s more important than ever for us to challenge the status quo within the technology industry. Perhaps most especially this is true for cybersecurity, as a lack of diversity is a threat to our collective success.”
“Innovation sits at the core of cybersecurity and failing to innovate would mean we’re not delivering new solutions to keep people and businesses safe in the changing threat landscape. If everyone on a security team thinks the same, the race has already been lost with attackers. A diverse workforce is a prerequisite to unlocking the full potential of any team or organisation. Only through increased inclusion and diversity – of race, gender, perspective and thought – can our industry achieve greater creativity and innovation, think outside the box, and outmaneuver our adversaries.
The fight for more diversity and inclusion in the industry doesn’t start or end with International Women’s Day. We must continue to champion women in the industry, lift each other up and give each other opportunities so that we can help create a more inclusive world for us all.” – Jacquie Young, Senior Director of Channels, APAC, Tenable.
“At Shoptimize, we firmly believe in equal opportunity for women, and building an inclusive, bias-free organization has been our topmost priority.
The rise of Indian eCommerce has not only boosted India’s economy but has also opened up many opportunities for women. From entrepreneurs building and scaling businesses to increased representation across functions, be it in leadership, tech, or sales & marketing roles – we have been privileged to have a ringside view of the women fueling the eCommerce boom,” Sathya Ramaganapathy, VP Marketing at Shoptimize.
“Women are breaking every stereotype and excelling across sectors, including real estate which is predominantly considered male-dominated. It’s also interesting to note that women are also amongst the fastest-growing group of consumers in terms of purchasing land/house.
At Hocomoco, we have always believed in giving weightage to talent/skill over gender, and to build a bias-free organization. Our project management team has close to 50% women employees, and some of the crucial departments (interior and marketing) in the company are headed by women,” Ritu Pusti, Brand Manager- Hocomoco.
In general business and corporate world is basically male-dominated. However, women leaders are making it big today in the corporate world. The experiences of women leaders show that understanding and cooperative family plays a big role in the success of women in leadership roles. In general, women are found to have better soft skills compared to men all other things being the same. Constant focus, forward-looking attitude, taking help from colleagues selectively when needed all help women to succeed. Next, women have that extra role of taking care of taking care of their kids and other family members, a role which cannot be effectively filled by men. From the revealing of the women leaders, we learn that none of them want to miss the special moments that they spend with their children and family. The bottom line is that successful women leaders often maintain the right balance between family needs and job responsibilities to have the fulfillment and feeling of success.