We had the pleasure of speaking with Radhika about her career, any advice she has for women in tech, what resilience means to her and so much more! Have a read now and check out her session at Women of Silicon Valley this May.
Tell us a little bit about your career in tech? How did you get started and then how did you get into your current role?
I was introduced to the tech world early in life, even as young as middle school. My uncle and my brother were both engineers and would bring home DIY electronic kits. I discovered a genuine enjoyment playing with the kits and quickly developed a complete fascination with technology. This led me to consider that a career in tech is a path I want to pursue.
I continued on to earn an undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering. I started my career in tech as a software engineer and gained a love for the tech industry from the engineering aspect all the way to the business side of it.
For much of my life I was in product centric roles and that has involved having a deep understanding of the technology and the marketplace. About a decade ago, I switched to general management. In simple terms, general management is the mechanics of running a business based on product offerings. It was something I really enjoyed.
My current role is a combination of everything I’ve done in the past – my expertise in infrastructure and software-as-a-service, combined with the ability to drive P&L as a general manager. When the opportunity for my role presented itself, I was very attracted to it because it matched closely to my background.
What advice would you give to a woman looking to step up their career in tech?
Be fearless. In the tech space, women tend to second guess themselves. Women second guess whether they are really ready for the next step up or struggle with speaking up in meetings if they are not 200% sure what to say. In those instances, my advice is: stop second guessing and put yourself out there. Take yourself out of your comfort zone because doing so is how you grow. How you stretch and develop comes from taking on challenges. Don’t second guess yourself. Don’t fall victim to imposter syndrome. Be willing to grow.
What do you see as the biggest challenge currently facing women in technology?
The biggest challenge I see facing women in technology is a lack of role models. While gender representation is improving, there is still more progress to be made. In most organizations, it still tends to be very male dominated as you go higher and higher up the ladder.
Due to a lack of role models women can feel like an outcast in times when they’re not sure how to overcome some of the traditional challenges women have to face, such as juggling a family and a career, and how to balance those commitments. How can women take on a high-profile job and address all of what it needs while at the same time ensuring that you’re able to be a good mom, wife, and family member?
My advice is to look around and find more mentors. Mentors do not have to just be women role models; they can be male allies. If your challenge is you don’t know how to overcome the current situation that you’re in because you don’t see others like you, my advice is expand your frame of reference and seek guidance from multiple mentors and male allies to help overcome your challenges.
The theme of the event is Resilience, as a woman in tech, what does resilience mean to you?
Resilience means several things to me.
Resilience is being able to stay strong in the face of any minor setbacks that you might have along the way. You may get overlooked for a promotion or you did not get that role or opportunity you were seeking. Resilience is staying committed and continuing to progress.
Resilience is also overcoming the unconscious bias you experience. Unfortunately, unconscious bias exists in our society today. Staying resilient in the face of unconscious bias is important because if you don’t remain committed and strong, you will not get to where you want to.
As a culture we talk about leaning in and we encourage women to advance their careers and drive their professional agenda more aggressively. The reality is it’s not easy. Any of us who’ve charted this path know that this does not happen easily and there are sacrifices and compromises to be made. Coupled with the fact that women in general tend to second guess themselves, it becomes really difficult.
There are a lot of bumps in the road. To me, resilience is overcoming all of those bumps. It’s being able to stay focused and true to your motivations, objectives and goals, and being comfortable with the compromises you have to make along the way.
What will be the key learnings from your presentation?
I hope to shed light on how tech can be used for good. Hitachi Vantara creates technology that drives social innovation using IoT and data. A key learning will be how we can deploy technology, IoT, and data to drive more social good in the environmental and societal context.