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Women Technology Leaders: Succeeding In a Male Dominated Industry

Women Technology Leaders: Succeeding In a Male Dominated Industry

Women Technology Leaders: Succeeding In a Male Dominated Industry

On the occasion of International Women day Bhawna Satsangi caught up in crisp conversation with some of the leading women from the IT Industry who through their constant efforts and hard work has received accolades from the Industry . The ladies have been a go getter in their field and thrive to reach at the pinnacle of their career in future .Take a look at their inspirational Journey that will surely change the way many women thinks.

Rupa Roy, Head Marketing, McAfee India and SAARC

She has achieved accolades for her hard work not only from McAfee but from the IT veterans for her hard work and efforts that she has dwelled in the industry. Having created a niche place for herself in a span of 14 years in Marketing, sales, strategy and operations in IT industry, Rupa Roy, Head Marketing, McAfee India and SAARC is happy and content with the position she is presently handling in McAfee.

Prior joining McAfee, she has worked with Cisco Systems Inc., where she held various marketing roles, as Head of Marketing for Commercial and Channel; Operations and strategy role in Channels. An alumina of Xavier Institute of Management and Entrepreneurship (XIME), Bangalore with a Business Administration degree, Rupa chose IT industry due to the influx of technologies that comes every day. She says, “The IT industry perhaps attracts the best of talent and this in itself is professionally stimulating. IT is amongst the fastest growing intellectually challenging industries in India. Influx of technology companies in India also means opportunity for coming into contact with global best practices, cross country exposure and a relentless focus on outdoing yourself time and again in order to compete with the best in the world. And security is a mainstream technology that impacts almost everyone   from large corporations to individuals and even children.  That makes marketing in this space really interesting.”

If not working in an IT industry, Rupa would have been a Marine Biologist. However, the quest for doing extraordinary and taking up challenges has lend her into the IT industry. Talking about the changes that she has observed in the industry over the years, she shares, “IT industry has come a long way and is majorly responsible for catapulting India’s status on the global innovation map. With more and more enterprises changing the way IT is being delivered due to trends such as cloud, virtualization, mobility etc., we are at a very interesting phase of technology innovation.   It’s almost like the next phase of technology adoption- Tech 2.0.”

Considered IT to be at a very interesting juncture, she believes IT security is the most dynamic technology, almost all pervasive and on a fast-track. Some of trends that she foresee:

•  From being restricted to the walls of an organization, information is now distributed across a range of geographically dispersed and connected device mechanisms enabling anywhere access to meet the needs of a fast emerging mobile workforce.

•  The proliferation of internet usage has led to the evolution of cyber-attacks, with each one being highly sophisticated and pervasive in nature. To address and protect against above discussed advanced threats there is a need to look at technologies that can offer multi vector visibility, granular control and in depth presence.

•  McAfee is one such visionary, pure-play security company that believes in protecting customers and end-users from security threats each and every day, and that’s our singular focus.  Our motto is ‘Safe Never Sleeps’.


Believing in the notion that women leaders are as good as their male counterparts she says, “Many of the top IT companies shaping the world today have a woman at the helm of affairs -  Marissa Mayer (Yahoo), Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook), Virginia Rometty (IBM)  to name a few. The old perception of IT being a male-dominated field is fast changing and women like these are triggers for such a turn around. I do agree that women are still under-represented in IT industry worldwide, let alone India. Moreover, ‘Leadership’ is a trait that is clearly needed to influence and ensure collective engagement to achieve shared goals. Therefore, to bracket this trait under gender specifics may not be a right approach.  Having said that, in a largely male dominated work environment, it perhaps requires women to demonstrate that extra bit in most aspects of work. However, women are intrinsically calm problem solvers, collaborative in approach and natural at multi-tasking.  I think these inherent characteristics of womanhood incidentally form important component of leadership.”

Always fortunate to work with some of the current day leaders in the IT industry, she has got inspiration from all of them in her professional journey. She has great respect for Kiran Mazumdar Shaw and admires her the most. She believes, “Kiran is a lady who believed in her dreams and started a company in early eighties, when women entrepreneurs were still very rare.” Azim Premji is another person Rupa admires a lot for his extraordinary contribution to the world of IT as well as his pioneering commitment to social causes.

Jayanthi Sethuraman, Marketing Head, Fujitsu India and Africa

She began her career with IBM and later on worked with HP and Fujitsu. Holding 17 years of extensive experience with Tech majors, Jayanthi Sethuraman, Marketing Head, Fujitsu India and Africa has experience in Hardware, Services, Solutions, Branding, Advertising, PR and Analyst relation, Corporate Communication, Marketing Strategy, field marketing, demand generation, and product marketing.

Having spend more than a decade in the industry Jayanthi held responsibility of multiple geographies including India, US, Asia, Europe. She has got experience in marketing for the IT infrastructure and services industries and was instrumental in setting up and leading the marketing function for Fujitsu in India over the last four years.

Holding M.S. in Advertising from Syracuse University, USA, Jayanthi first role apart from internship with a global bank in Bangalore was with IT industry as a technical writer. It was then that she saw lot of opportunity in this field and started to find her place in the industry. Jayanthi has been very fortunate to have found mentors at the early stage of her career who helped her in shaping her career which has helped her to stay in the industry till date.

Always believe in changing her work dynamics with the change in the industry she feels, “The industry has undergone a complete transformation. Earlier the focus was on infrastructure and hardware and this business became commoditize. However, today the focus is now on solutions. The business is solution centric and the industry adds value to the customer. Today the industry is far more customer centric. The industry is becoming service oriented and solution driven.”

She believes that the focus of the professionals have shifted from vendor portfolio to customer challenge. She says, “Landscape is changing constantly. Lot of mergers are taking place which s changing the face of the industry.” Ask her about the future for IT industry in this changing phase and she dwells, “Most of the IT companies are increasingly taking customer oriented focus and solution approach rather than just being a box pusher. The companies are giving integrated solutions to customers and continue to be the case as industry transforms.”

Always aspired to be an academician Jayanthi has a soft corner for academics in her heart yet. Despite scaling heights in her IT career she still sees herself to be associating with academics later in her future. Teaching is one such profession that she still likes to do as this has been very dear to her heart.

Though she has achieved accolades for her hard work and efforts by the industry veterans yet sky is the limit for this girl as she believes that the industry is not gender biased and there is no limit to grow for anyone be it man or woman. She asserts, “One should have the right caliber and a good mentor to lead you. Gender is not a road block in success in IT industry. I am fortunate to have quite a few mentors and I continue to develop the relationship with them.”

Since she has been guided under the leadership of her mentor in early professional life who helped her in the journey to success, it’s important for Jayanthi to be molded with the time.  She believes, “To be successful it is important for all of us to be inspired and become an inspiration or a mentor for the young generation who is aspiring to enter in the field. It is more important to mentor than to be mentored.”

Juggling between her professional and personal life, Jayanthi tries to keep a balance in both the lives. She priorities her tasks and tries to justify her work through her constant efforts and zeal. She believes in taking up roles which can be delegated and trust people whom the responsibilities are given to be fulfilled. Presently Jayanthi enjoys her position in Fujitsu as the role has given her lot of exposure and she is a changed professional today. This has given her an opportunity to grow with what she is doing.

Suchita Vishnoi, Head, Corporate Communications, Trend Micro, India

Having been nominated as the ‘Maharani of Marketing’ by Paul Writer & Co., Suchita Vishnoi, Head-Corporate Communication, Trend Micro India, has been spearheading the company with her true knowledge in marketing and communication. The journey for Suchita has been very adventurous as she has seen lot of changes in the industry over the years and had learned to follow with the wind to be the go getter in her domain.

She started as a marketing professional and has got exposure in dealing with direct marketing agencies that were handling execution programs for IT giants like Intel, Wipro, Dell etc. having completed her MBA (marketing) from Lucknow University in 1998, Suchita kept upgrading her academic background from time to time. She did a certificate course in Competitive Marketing Strategy from IIM Bangalore in 2008 and attended special workshop on Reinventing Marketing for CMOs at ISB in 2012 to hone her skills.

Having received the on-ground experience with IT, today Suchita has created a niche place for herself in the IT industry. The intellectual lady started her career from Bangalore in 2000 and from then to now she has seen a lot of shift in the marketing and marketing itself has changed for IT and IT itself has changed in these 14 years.

I am very lucky to be a part of this growth and going through this whole transformation. Earlier everything was offline and now everything is online, very digital. We are using the social media in a big way. Mobile marketing is also one of the concern. Earlier it was more of offline event but now things have changed and as a marketer you have so much to choose from. There are so many things that are there and you are choosing from all of it to be able to ensure that these basket of activity that you put on offer as a marketing professional is your best practice,” shares Suchita.

Juggling with the past to the present practices in the industry, Suchita is trying to up her skill as she believes that every change is for betterment and is more agile, and is very customer centric. So this change has helped her in a big way as she is getting closer to the customer. The change has helped her to be on her toes all the time and to be sharper at the same time.

Marketing for IT has been the career for Suchita but if it wasn’t her destiny then she would have chosen entertainment or media industry to be a journalist. Ask her the reason and she chuckles, “As a personality I am very verbal and expressive and going with that personality and that kind of line it would have been easier for me to put my things at place. But I am happy and comfortable with what I am doing.”

For her IT he has become the part of her life and the dependency is 100%. She believes, “All of us need IT today as it is the backbone of every industry. It has huge potential and more to come from this field and sometimes even us as users do not know what is the next step. Security is moving in a big way and I am sure other products too are moving in this way. I think there is lot more to offer to people with the innovations coming our way everyday.”

Believe in the notion that women can be a better go getter in the IT industry Suchita says, “It is not that I am women so I believe in the notion but it is that women have both the soft and the hard side to themselves. Their commitment levels are extremely high. The way we are made we have lot of sensitivity that requires leading team, to be leader, to be able to play the role of a mentor when leading the large team, the ability to nurture lot of work that comes to you. In all these circumstances I believe women have better ability to deal with ofcourse there are limitations, situations, family pressure that you cannot go with as much growth but wherever women has worked with in line with men they have acceded in the same.”

Balancing her life between her professional and personal chores, Suchita’s five days of the week are engrossed with the professional commitments and duties where as the two days she kept for her family. She focus more on herself. However, working with Trend Micro, there is a lot of flexibility to choose her time of work, work from home option, flexibility o travel etc. so her productivity increases as she feels that her responsibilities are higher and able to balance her personal and professional persona.

Besides being a corporate communication head, Suchita is also a corporate trainer and a consultant. She gives one on one consulting and also give training programs which is more of a passion for her and doesn’t look as a revenue generating activity. This gives her inner satisfaction.

For her journey has been a perfect blend of heart and mind. Her journey has been very dynamic and is very content with her position in Trend Micro. However, she foresee organic growth in future and believes that she will get her recognition in the industry with due course of time.

Sushmita Das, Vice President, Business at Kobian

Having started her career in Food industry as Quality Control Analyst and then moved to Singapore in 1999, Sushmita Das joined Kobian in 1999, and have been a part of the organization for one and half decade now. Proud to be a part of the IT industry she sees constant evolution in the industry and the scope to learn and grow with the industry.

Sushmita feels, “Product phase in and phase out time lines are fast and thus keeping people on their edge to match the speed. Change always inspires me and IT was just the right the place for me.” But ask her what changes she has seen over the years and she shares, “Being a part of Kobian, I have witnessed changes in the IT Peripheral business where the business which was limited to a set of players has opened up over the years. This invited a lot of new brands to enter and explore the business in India. Many Indian companies venturing into creating their own brands and a few of them are success stories today. Last one and half decade in IT, has been a roller coaster with movement in products, people, companies but what has remained constant is the need and demand for the IT products in the market.”

The natural shift from the desktop to mobile computing products is one of the major changes that Sushmita has witnessed in the industry. She informs, “Desktop PC peripherals have been our forte, which is a slow track now. But this natural shift from the desktop to probably Mobile computing products shall unfold smarter PC products and we look forward to the same.”

On being a part of the industry herself, she sees great potential for women in the field. She believes that women can be a better leader in any industry. Though she has highest respect for some of the leaders in IT and Communication field, but she believe a women leader is always able to strike a balance between the toughest of decision for the company and the people therein.

She adds, “Today young women are IT savvy, whether they want to be a part of the IT industry depends a lot on their expertise and willingness to learn technology. A big chunk of girls are engineering in IT field and it’s a welcome step! Girls who have the zeal to learn new technology and products, IT is the answer. Today the highest new product launches are in IT industry and people who want to learn and develop new products & market should be exploring into IT.”

She admires Steve Jobs as he brought a change from desktop computing to mobile computing and she gives major credit to him.

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About Kalpana Singhal

Kalpana Singhal is Co-Founder & Editor in Chief at Techplus Media. She is an Innovative & challenger Entrepreneur who started her journey from corporate communication in early 2001 with I.T. Industry followed by Lead - Editorial at BeautyIndia.in in 2008 . You can follow her on twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

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