Growing up in a small town in rural India, I never dared to imagine the possibility of ‘Me’ that exists today. I’ve built an incredible career in the Tech industry and as a result it has allowed me to build the life of my dreams.
My decade long career in Networking and Infrastructure spans across three continents and countries- India, US and the UK. Along with acquiring a Master’s degree in Networked Systems from University of California, Irvine, I have worked for multiple organizations of varying sizes and shapes to deliver the best Infrastructure for their IT services. Organically I ventured into Cloud infrastructure. I have designed and built the IT Infrastructure for many services and applications ranging from a million-hits-per-second websites at Microsoft to Pharma and Drug Industry applications to Logistics Warehouse Management Solutions. Seeing the big picture and architecting the right solution for a customer has been my focus. I am passionate about the Cloud because of how it has made technology accessible to every part of the world and quite literally changed the way we live. I am working as a Senior Azure Customer Engineer at Microsoft managing the reactive experience of Top Azure customers on the platform.
This is an amazing industry with incredible opportunities. Some of the lessons I learnt are-
- Dream big and its absolutely possible to achieve great things here
- If you are in doubt, ask for help- people are always willing to lend their time!
- Have Mentors that can guide you
- Seek genuine feedback on the work you do so you can build your confidence
I studied Computer Science at University in Bangalore and also did a course outside of college called CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Admin) because I wanted to be an Infrastructure Engineer and understand how the Internet works. This gave me an opportunity to participate in a Student Cohort programme at Cisco which eventually became an Internship and a Full time job.
I have had the chance to work for IT in several different sectors and this gave me a platform to work on so many projects-
- Started off my Career working in Data Centres in Cisco, India – the only Under grad hire to work on the Networking team. Experienced first hand what the DCs are made of and how to router and switch problems.
- At Microsoft HQ in Redmond, Washington, I managed services with millions of hits per second, re-designed some of the services for efficiency and the scale at which I was working was unbelievable.
- While working at Dassault Systemes in San Diego, I was the primary West Coast engineer for 2 of the biggest softwares – Laboratory Inventory Management System and Laboratory Execution System which was used by all top Pharma companies in the US.
- At Unipart Logistics, I architected and implemented solutions to move the entire IT Warehouse Management services from IBM Data centre to AWS cloud.
- In last 12 months, I have taken over 2 huge customers of Azure as a part of my team. These customers bill millions of dollars to Azure and I manage their Customer Experience on Azure, through the work that I did, I have solved critical customer issues that have saved millions of dollars to the customer.
As an Azure Cloud Engineer, I WFH most of the time. I log into the system at 9 AM, check my emails, catch up on any updates from the previous night by US teams. If there are any ongoing issues for my customers on Azure, I get involved and drive them to resolution.
Otherwise, I focus on the projects I have been allocated. My time is split between customer calls, Team meetings, projects and the D&I work I do within Microsoft. I typically end my day with a call with the US teams to hand off any active work that they need to take over.
Everyday is different. Customer problems keep changing every day and it keeps me on my toes. I get to learn something new and also improve my communication skill relaying solutions to build strategic customer relationships.
I love the D&I work I do at Microsoft. I lead a few Women in Tech forums and Culture initiatives that aim to bring people together and promote inclusiveness. The impact of this is huge when it comes to transforming the culture.
A lot of my career decisions early in my career were motivated by personal circumstances. I could not always choose the best job, sometimes I took a paycut to deal with the personal circumstance.
But in the long run, its always possible to catch up to where you aspire to be if you put in the effort.
Unsurprisingly, no. I never had any female role models growing up.
But now, having been here a decade, there are so many incredible women I look up to in Tech.
Some of the career journeys that inspire me are-
Indira Nooyi- One of the pioneering female CEOs of her time, she defined Leadership for Women
Sindhu Gangadharan- Head of SAP labs, India, she does a great job of being the face of such a big company, handles her job and the D&I work she does gracefully
Sheryl Sandberg- She inspires me with her honest and public speaking skills. Being the COO of Facebook is not easy and she is impressive.
Yes, many times. Lining up small wins has helped me gain confidence in a role. Also, it is important to separate facts from feelings. They are not the same.
In general, coming where I come from, being a woman with a career is a big deal for me. This is a life I never imagined I’d have. I love Technology. A career in this industry changed my life for the better
After moving to the West, I realized the significance of being a woman in STEM field. Its disheartening to see the number of women in STEM fields. So it is even more important to be an ambassador and voice for the industry to encourage more Girls into STEM and dispel any myths they might have.
I would say my passion for Technology and ability to deliver on time are my biggest strengths. I am reliable and when a task is assigned to me, I can be counted on to deliver it on time with good quality.
At times I tend to take too much on my plate and struggle with juggling them. That is definitely a weakness.
I genuinely believe that there is a need to make this industry more inclusive towards women, not only to attract more female talent but also to make the space more female-oriented. And hence I am involved in various initiatives that aim for the same. Some of them are-
To get more women in Tech, I have-
- Lead Initiatives as part of Get On 2021 Campaign from Microsoft to encourage more women in tech- https://news.microsoft.com/en-gb/2020/10/13/microsofts-get-on-2021-campaign-to-help-1-5-million-people-in-the-uk-build-careers-in-technology-by-2025/. As a part of this campaign, I am part of the team building a Tech powered platform that would enable Employees of Microsoft and Schools to communicate to deliver career talks and workshops.
- Owner of Three Way Handshake – A Social Media account aiming to create awareness about Tech industry amongst Women and encourage more young girls to appreciate Tech more. I create short 30 second videos that explain Tech concepts in layman terms and also videos that explain careers in Tech and dispel myths about the industry.
- I give career talks at various schools in Berkshire and I am a certified STEM Ambassador. I participate in various career events across schools.
- I volunteer as a mentor to young women who are Undergraduates who are aspiring Engineers to help them get into this industry. I also volunteer as a mentor for Undergrad teams that deliver projects on week long workshops at Microsoft.
In order to make the workplace a better place for women-
- CXP is the unit I work for in Microsoft with around 2000 employees, 300 of which are women. I am Women in CXP Lead with sole goal of addressing any concerns that women in the unit have and also provide a platform where we can discuss and collectively drive change. We talk about everything that is important from preparing for promotion discussions, making our voices heard, work-life balance, to allyship.
I am a mental health advocate where I run monthly Mental health sessions across different groups in Microsoft spreading awareness about Mental Health and outlining benefits that we can avail to address the same.