It was a bright Monday morning in Bengaluru, India. With stars in my eyes and hopes in my heart, I sat glued to the edge of my seat to watch my 13-year-old daughter Poorvi combat a tough opponent and ace her passion for fencing. As I watched her take the lead, beating her rival’s blade point by point, I felt a sudden rush of nostalgia.
Poorvi’s fearlessness and optimism with the sword reminded me of my passion for science, engineering, technology and mathematics (STEM). I was a tad older than her when I attended a session on the basics of programming in high school. The subject left me intrigued and piqued my interest in what was a completely unchartered territory back then. Today, more than 20 years later, the fire to learn and grow my tech career still burns bright.
We all need to take a leap of faith at some point in our lives. So, without letting any inhibitions or stereotypes hold me back—biases that peg STEM as the terrain of men—I decided to swim against the current, enter the field of tech, and never look back.
My evolving career in tech
My father always encouraged me to strive for the best and never stop learning. Even when I graduated from Siddaganga Institute of Technology, India, in 1993, I stayed laser-focused in my first job as an intern, kept reading and built strong connections with peers.
Two years later, I was off to Houston, Texas, to chase my big dream. The sojourn started with Rice University where I studied object-oriented design and computer science. The 13 years I spent in the U.S. were the most eventful years of my life—I worked for a few leading companies, got married, became a mother, and had a splash with my two lovely kids. I was never afraid to take career breaks to prioritize my role of wife or mother over my professional ambitions. With the support of my mentors, I continued to capitalize on my achievements and make strong comebacks in my career.
The biggest highlight of my career? Returning to Bengaluru in 2009. When I started exploring job opportunities, I felt I needed a more robust résumé to market myself. So, I immediately enrolled into the general management program at the Indian Institute of Management, Bengaluru. Subsequently, I started interviewing, networking with peers and before I knew it, I landed at the Accenture office to start the most exciting chapter of my life.
From a dream start to a dream run
I joined Accenture as the Business Process Management (BPM) lead for Accenture in India. After two years, I became the practice head in India with responsibility to grow the PEGA business. Within the next four years, we rapidly increased our headcount and revenues. The best part was presenting the India office as the hub of building intelligent solutions and driving sales for PEGA.
After spearheading the PEGA practice for six years, I wanted to get involved in something radically different. Learning should never stop—remember? Once again, with leadership’s support, I ventured into data analytics, became the global lead for data offerings, and explored the countless growth opportunities for companies in this new area.
My passion for innovation was no secret. At a time when the future was unfolding at a breakneck clip, I knew I could use all my knowledge and skills in BPM, artificial intelligence, robotics and data analytics to grow the business and bring innovation to our clients’ businesses. This journey led me to where I am today: the head of Innovation in the Products operating group.
To address the issue, I met with leadership to discuss what we could do together to help women technologists thrive. And hence, the High-Tech Women (HTW) program was born in late 2015. From organizing hackathons, training, whitepaper contests and panel discussions to collaborating with the Anita Borg Institute—and recently winning the Excellence Award—I’m immensely proud of the program’s impact!
Now, my passion to help other women technologists is defined by my daughter’s passion for fencing. I spend a lot of my time outside work, supporting my daughter at all national events across the country. I’m proud to be part of an organization that offers me flexibility and empowers me with the necessary tools to stay connected. I don’t call it work-life balance, I call it a work-life merge. A culture of workplace flexibility is definitely one surefire way companies can attract and retain more women technologists. Do you agree?
My advice to other women—keep learning and growing your skills. Just when you think you know it all, a new disruption will change your course.
So, which side of the fence are you?
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