Women Heroes in Tech: India
With Shabana Azmi
As promised in my previous post, here is my list of Women Heroes in Tech in India. I spend 3-4 months a year working in India since 2008. During this time I have been inspired by a group of very young, wicked-smart and fiercely-driven technical women across India. What you don't find very often are very senior women (i.e. people my age)... women who have been in the field 20+ years. I have been fortunate to meet a handful of them during my travels and listen to their stories of what it was like in the early days of India's climb to technical prominence and their challenges over the last two decades is truly amazing. These women have forged a space in which the next generation of technical women are thriving. The challenges for technical women in India are far from over in fact I believe they are just beginning (that is another blog), but without these trail blazers, we would not see the brilliance and the accomplishments technical women in India are achieving today. As before, I am limiting my list although this is double with 6 (Sudha Murty is the only one on this list I have not met but was advised I need to include her- thanks Pramita :-)):
1. Hema Gopal, Global Head, TCS. Ms. Gopal knew early on that Mainframe Technology spoke to her and was one of the few women of her generation to receive a masters degree in Computer Science. This love of technology has led to a 26 year journey around the world working on infrastructure projects for some of the worlds largest companies like First Banking Systems (UK), Royal bank of Scotland (UK), CITIBANK (Singapore), GAP (USA), HSBC (UK), CSPB (Switzerland), Standard Chartered Bank (Asia Pacific), Experian (U.K & USA), Visa International, Bank One, BB&T, Banco Popular and Sallie Mae. She has been managing large offshore teams in the offshore development center in multiple locations in India. She has handled many mission critical Transformational engagements on IBM M/F. She has received numerous awards to her credit for her work in this area. Now she also is giving back, meeting with over 10,000 students at colleges and universities across India, inspiring them to find their passion in technology. Adaptability and a desire to continue to learn as well as a supportive family are her keys to success.
2. Kalpana Margabandhu, Director, IBM Labs. Fate lent a hand in having Ms. Margabandhu take an entrance exam (she followed her friend who was preparing to take the exam) to IISc where she received both undergrad and graduate degrees in Engineering. That fateful moment has led to a hugely successful 27-year career. For the last 16 years Ms. Margabandhu has been involved in the inception of the IBM Lab in Bangalore playing key leadership roles which led to the Labs success. Currently, as the Director for WebSphere Adapters and B2B Development, she owns the business direction and strategy for Enterprise Information Connectivity and B2B set of products including WebSphere Data Interchange and Partner Gateway. As the Director of AIM Development in India, she oversees development activities for all AIM products (WAS, WebSphere Commerce, TxSeries, etc.,) delivered by ISL. She is also on the Board of IBM India. Her advice to the next generation is to "go for it" and keep yourself up to date on your brand, what is going on in the business and technology to keep yourself current.
3. Cynthia Srinivas, Engineering Director, NetApp. With over two decades of experience, Ms. Srinivas is responsible for testing for the Continuous Product Engineering business unit for NetApp’s ONTAP Product Suite – an extremely successful market leading storage software solution that powers many of the fortune 500 majors. Prior to this, Cynthia has led initiatives in Test tools and infrastructure development, Data processing services at NetApp. Prior to NetApp she held key delivery leadership positions at Cisco and Motorola. While at Motorola, she worked in the Wireless Communications domain, managing GPRS stack development – a significant, ‘industry first’ initiative (in 1998-99) very successfully. She moved to Cisco Systems in 2000 in an Engineering Management role working on mid to high range Edge Routers. She joined NetApp in 2004, and has been leading different initiatives on different aspects of Storage Technology business since then. Ms. Srinivas advises the next generation to really spend some time and focus on your first-line management position and become a well-rounded leader with technology and business acumen.
4 Anita Biddappa, Program Director, IBM. Ms. Biddappa leads the Silicon Solutions Engineering team, which is part of worldwide Systems & Technology Division of IBM. She has over 20 years of Semiconductor & VLSI development experience (13 years in USA), and is known for her focus on high quality, efficiency & Client engagements. She has also held senior management roles at Intel (~ 4 years) and Lattice Semiconductor USA (13+ years). Anita’s passion for excellence & pride of ownership in hardware Chip delivery has helped ignite the growth of hardware development out of IBM, India in the past 3 years. I have personal experience of Anita's dedication when the only time she could meet me at the office was 10:30pm!
5. Sudha Murty, Social Activist and Author. Ms. Murthy began her professional career as a computer scientist and engineer, currently she is the chairperson of the Infosys Foundation and member of public healthcare initiative of the Gates Foundation. "In addition, she has established several orphanages, participated in rural development efforts, and supported the movement to provide all government schools in Karnataka with state-of-the-art computer and library facilities. Ms. Murthy also teaches computer science and composes fiction. Ms. Murthy held the distinct honor of being the first female engineer hired at India's largest auto manufacturer TATA Engineering and Locomotive Company or TELCO (now the multinational Tata Motors, which owns Jaguar Land Rover and Daewoo commercial vehicles). The backstory reveals that Mrs. Murthy had written a postcard to then company Chairman JRD Tata complaining of the "men only" gender bias at TELCO. As a result, she was granted a special interview and hired immediately on her merits. Ms. Murthy later met her husband N.R. Narayana Murthy while employed as an engineer at TELCO in Pune; ironically, the couple's matchmaker G.K. Prasanna would later become the Global Head of Technology at Wipro, a competitor to Infosys in global IT services."
6. Charu Srinivasan, Principal Development Manager at Microsoft. Ms. Srinivasan is Principal Development Manager in virtualization team at Microsoft. She focuses on developing and articulating a long-term technical vision, creating and reviewing designs and exploring new technology directions. In her career span of 20 years, she has built sophisticated distributed systems. She worked on multi-master replication technologies for Microsoft Access and Merge Replication in SQL Server. Subsequently she became Principal Architect, SQL Server Replication. In 2005, Ms.Srinivasan was Principal Architect for Microsoft Data Protection Manager. In 2009 she joined the core OS group to work on Hyper-V. She holds numerous patents in these areas.
As with my previous post here are 7 more women technology heroes in India - there are just too many heroes! These women are spectacular, they just haven't been amazing as long as the top 6 (their work experience is between 14-18 years): Mani Abrol, Head of Lexity Labs India; Mamtha Banerjee, Founder and CEO, InvestmentYogi Inc.; Hema Seetharamaiah, Delivery Manager, Wipro Technologies; Urbi Mukherjee, Program Manager, Thomson Reuters; Shalini Kapoor, Chief Architect- Industry Solutions at IBM Software Labs; Chaitra Bhat, Design Engineer, IBM and Aparna Gupta, Managing Director of FirstRain
Who are your women tech heroes in India? What can we do to make these women just as visible as Marissa Mayer, Sheryl Sandberg and Susan Wojcicki? Why do you think it is important to showcase Indian women as role models?
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11/23/2013 01:15:43 am
Hi, I loved this piece. I write on technology and will appreciate it if you can suggest the names of 5 young women entrepreneurs in the cusp of spectacular tech achievements.
11/23/2013 03:57:17 pm
Thanks for the kind words. I will take this up as a future blog post. There is a growing number of women in start-ups in India.
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