This year, OpenText™ sent our first official delegation of talented female employees from our Hyderabad and Bangalore offices to the Grace Hopper Celebration India (GHCI). As Asia’s largest gathering of women technologists, GHCI provided our delegation with incredible learning and networking opportunities.
I had the pleasure of joining our inaugural Indian delegation to GHCI in Bangalore. Over 5,000 attendees took part in the official satellite event of the Grace Hopper Celebration, including our ten inspiring leaders. It truly was a conference to remember!
I sat down with some of our attendees – Luxmi Priyadarshini Bhattacharya (Program Manager), Himani Rathore (Manager, Consulting), Shalini Mahale (Senior Project Manager), Ashu Thangaraj (Director, Engineering) and Rama Bhamidipaty (Senior Director, Engineering) – to hear their thoughts on GHCI, diversity in the tech industry, and what makes India a great place for women in tech to thrive.
How did it feel to be selected as part of the first OpenText delegation to be sent to GHCI?
Luxmi: I felt honored to represent OpenText at the GHCI event. It was a great learning experience that I believe is going to bring the best out of me, both personally and professionally.
Ashu: It feels great to be selected as part of the first OpenText Delegation in India. This exhibits the commitment that OpenText has to diversity in technology. I am hoping that this continues and gets bigger year after year.
Himani: Being selected as part of the first OpenText delegation to GHCI was incredible and truly special. It was a conference full of energy and inspiration – so I was excited and was looking forward to this opportunity. I was the youngest member in the OpenText delegation and I knew I had so much to learn from all the other wonderful delegates, and that is exactly what happened at the conference.
India has made great strides in achieving gender equality in the technology industry. How do you think the country has achieved this great milestone?
Rama: In India, many female students prefer STEM disciplines. There are a huge number of companies offering technology jobs, providing real opportunities to female graduates. Companies are becoming more aware of the skills female employees can bring to an organization, including their aspiration to continue working after having children. The Indian government mandates that larger companies provide not only maternity benefits but also child care facilities for women returning to work. This helps women to continue in their career and thrive in the workplace.
Himani: The mindset of people across society is changing in India. Female empowerment is being given a lot of emphasis and women themselves are motivated to join the tech industry, so professional careers are leaping forward. Women are now able to concentrate on their career aspirations due to the support system they are building on. The support of the family and the help of other women are making great things happen.
Shalini: India has evolved over the years. I do see a great change in the mindset over the last 15 years, when I started my career. Education has played a key and pivotal role, and I think the technology industry has made significant progress in promoting gender inclusivity. Government intervention and some trail blazing women achievers have helped to bring about some drastic shifts in the industry. The percentage of women hired into entry level jobs has significantly increased in the last five years. I feel India still has a very long way to go, but one can take solace in the fact that we are marching towards the right direction, towards progress, women empowerment, global impact. Change is happening in every sector. There is a need to focus at the middle and senior management levels, too, to create more role models.
What was your biggest takeaway or favorite memory from the conference?
Shalini: I have great memories created for life from the conference. I had a wonderful opportunity to hear from women achievers about their life experiences and learnings. I was inspired hearing stories from a women achiever in the field of sports, who shared how to “Thrive on Pressure Like a Sportsperson”. I met some great colleagues from OpenText who were my co-participants and learned how they overcame challenges in their lives.
Rama: Lori Beer, Global CIO of JPMorgan Chase & Co. referred to the song “I am Unstoppable” in her discourse. It was amazing and inspirational to see a woman coming from a farm community rising to the be the CIO of such a huge company.
Luxmi: “Leadership is an action not a position.” After attending multiple sessions by dynamic women leaders, what became very evident to me was leadership is not about position, or for that matter, title. It is about action. It is about who we are and our actions, our deeds, how we treat others, how we make decisions, how we listen to others, how we accept responsibility for our actions and hold ourselves accountable; this is who we really are. As leaders, we must realize that every action is a reflection of our character, our integrity and our ability to be noble, caring human beings.
Why do you think companies need to focus on diversity and inclusion in the future?
Ashu: Research has shown that having at least 30 percent diversity in the organization at board level increases the profitability and growth of the organization. There is diversity everywhere and embracing it enables companies to understand the needs of customer and help build better solutions. For today’s organizations, it has become an imperative to focus on diversity.
Rama: When women are part of the tech world, new ways of living, of seeing the world and of doing business reveal themselves. Women’s contributions need to be respected, their voices have to be heard. Companies will be better places to work, and more innovative and productive, as a result.
Luxmi: Diversity and inclusion is an absolute must in the global workspace. Apart from boosting the brand of the employer, it also helps create an environment for generating non-homogenous thoughts among the workforce. With the exchange of creativity and innovative ideas, diverse teams are known to perform better. Needless to say, high performing teams will eventually let the business grow and make it sustainable in the competitive market.
Ashu, you have been a GHCI volunteer since it began in India and this year you managed the “Tech for Good’ track. Why do you continue to get involved in GHCI year after year?
Ashu: I have been passionate about women coming into STEM and technology. GHCI was a great platform for me to help contribute towards this, and since the time GHCI started in India, I have been volunteering for this program. I had been a committee member as well as a speaker in the previous GHCI. It also provides a good platform to network, learn from other leaders and benchmark the work our organization is doing.
Hear more about Ashu’s involvement with GHCI, her career path and her advice for young women entering the industry in this video interview from OpenText Enterprise World 2018.
What is one piece of advice you would like to give to women who are just starting their careers?
Luxmi: The one piece of advice that young ambitious women are never told but could make all the difference is – “When you have an idea, be passionate about it and get your voice or product out there. Do not allow fear of failure hold you back from expressing yourself creatively. Keep thriving, keep pushing, persevere. Every day is a new opportunity, and you can take as many days as you need to succeed. ”
Rama: Be confident and be strong and show yourself as the expert that you are. Take credit and accept praise for your work. Voice yourself, don’t let only your work speak for itself. Its voice might be lost.
Himani: Confidence is a gift we give to ourselves, so believe in yourself and take the plunge, do not give up. Your career is as important as anyone else’s so do not settle for anything less than what you deserve.
More from the delegation
To hear more from Ashu, take a look at this blog where she shares her experience working as a leader in tech, or this interview with Ashu and Lakshmi Chinnam. Next, listen to this interview with Rama and Sangeetha Yanamandra, Director, Software Engineering on diversity and inclusion in the tech industry in India.
We also attended the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in the U.S. this year – take a look at what our delegates had to say in this interview.