In January 2020, it will be 19 years that I will have worked in Technology. Every time I hear stories of other women in tech, a thought prompts me to look back at my journey and ask my younger self, how did I do it?
The response that I get is pretty impressive and very emotional. Going down memory lane, I was just married and with lots of hopes and excitement, I came to this land of opportunities.
In 2003 I landed in San Francisco, after a 24-hour journey all the way from India. To say the least, it was a cultural shock for me, coming to this very fast-paced environment. This was the year when LinkedIn had just launched its Internet site and Apple had opened the iTunes store. Doesn't it sound like history?
My husband (who is also an IT consultant) and I lived in two different cities for a full 4 years before we started staying together as a family. It was just very hard for us to get projects to work on together as our specializations were different. In the end, he had to leave his job in Los Angeles to join me here in San Francisco, which he was supportive enough of me to do.
I am pretty happy with my journey thus far, though there were certainly times when I had to juggle my priorities, especially when my only daughter was about to be born. After being together for 2 years my husband had to again start traveling for work from coast to coast, and, with a small daughter in my lap, I managed the household, with additional help from our extended family.
In those days, tech companies were concentrating on growth. The number of employees at the companies exploded to meet customer needs across the globe and in that hoard, women employees were trying to find a new identity to align with this fast-paced environment.
There is definitely a need for us to level the playing field so we can empower the next generation of women to not be afraid of the responsibilities tech companies bring, but rather to train and mentor them to face the challenges of the fast-paced world.
I believe family plays an equivalent part. It is not the responsibility of an organization alone to empower women employees but empowerment first starts at home. I am very lucky in having had the support of my mentors in the organization and, above all, the support of my family, who helped me raise a beautiful soul.
Carolyn's 4 objectives when she started WITI back in 1989 recently caught my eyes. This one I especially like: 'Transform corporate environments to level the playing field for women,' not by competing but collaborating. I agree. Competition wastes a lot of potential energy that could be diverted towards being creative and innovative. Collaboration, on the other hand, moves the organizations forward towards achieving common goals and vision, while also bringing different viewpoints. Yes, there is always another way!
The other day, I was teaching my daughter math equations, so here is one that comes to my mind as a common success factor, empowerment! WITI is empowering 100,000 members by inspiring and building their brand and my current employer, 'Cognizant,' is empowering 100,000 women employees by investing in them to bring greater diversity and inclusion.
Here's a photo from a company event that I was part of, celebrating 100K women employees. This event was organized globally and covered 93 different locations.
Balvinder is a seasoned award-winning IT leader with 19 years of experience in Software Development, Quality Assurance, Program and Product Management. She has rich global experience working with teams around the world. Her vision is to utilize her passion, knowledge, and extensive experience in an innovative way to turn challenges into opportunities. On a personal level, she is very social and women's growth is always at her heart. Towards that, she takes time out to contribute towards that cause, be it upskilling, mentoring women in technology, and related outreach initiatives. I can be reached @ Cognizant
Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.
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