For Srividya Ram “Each for Equal” is All About Technology Innovation
- March 03, 2020
I graduated as an electronics and instrumentation engineer and spent my initial career years in digital process control. It was exciting to design digital control systems for large petrochemical plants, to spend time on the shop floor where the digital control panels were built, and to travel to remote petrochemical plants for installations.
Like many women, as my first child arrived, I had to spend time on childcare. It was the time where there were only landlines and desktops at the workplace. If I had to continue at work, I had to be physically present at work to access my desktop, which were on LANs. If I was in a remote petrochemical plant for implementation, I could not call home frequently. It was not a viable situation, so I took a break from my career. I went back to academic life for my post-graduate studies and earned a master’s degree in business administration.
In those couple of years, Bangalore was rapidly morphing into India’s Silicon Valley. India established itself as a strong IT services offshore destination for global markets, and mobile networks and new technologies were the offshoot of the IT business. It also positively impacted the people of India. I owned my first Nokia brick mobile phone, we had a desktop at home which could connect to the internet with a dial-up modem (I still remember the noise it makes while connecting) and I had my own personal Yahoo account. The availability and access of these technology innovations opened a new world. From the comfort of my home, I knew the latest happenings across the industry, and could connect back to my professional network and learn. There were lots of opportunities to work in computer technology for global clients. The mobile phone gave me the comfort and confidence that I could be reached by my child’s daycare any time I needed to be. I restarted my career in a large Indian IT Services company as a database designer — an easy transition from system designer. I was working on projects for Indian clients as a database designer.
Having done my post graduate work, I wanted to get into business management roles sooner. When I shifted from engineering to IT Services, there were many women in technology “doer” roles. Whereas there were more men in business leadership roles.
Ironically, India never had a dearth of women leaders. From Indian Mythology to National Freedom struggles to the current-day women in STEM, there are hordes of strong, empowered women leaders across the spectrum — Goddess Durga, Rani Laxmi Bai, Mother Theresa and Dr. VR Lalithambika (ISRO) to name a few. Each one of their journeys establish one consistent fact — when women are in an empowered role, they bring about very positive changes, and implement these changes empathetically with inclusive diversity.
In the early 2000s, the western world was moving ahead with technology innovation, much faster than the Indian clients. I was hoping to work for global clients in the latest technologies. I saw a newspaper advertisement from NTT DATA (it was called IT Services then, and yes, the job portals were a rarity). NTT DATA promised the exposure to global clients in the latest technology and a project management role. Joining NTT DATA is one of my best career decisions. I am in my 20th year with the company and the journey continues to be exciting. Today, when I look across NTT DATA, I am very proud to see empowered women in all the global centers, and it is a pleasure to be part of such a company. I work with many senior women playing critical, client-facing business roles — much beyond the technology “doer” roles of the past. I remain impressed with the representation women have in this organization.
What delights me most about the future of women is the way technology moves us all forward. There are multiple technology advancements that have created a positive impact on dissolving gender bias and boundaries — that is awesome! Innovation in telepresence, online retail, online continuing education, online professional networking and ridesharing are all enablers for working women to have a successful career and personal life. Everything is available at our fingertips!
Technology enables us to BLEND work and home beautifully. Rather than making it an effort to balance work and home, we all now can blend work and home. Technology innovation has also brought an awareness of our social responsibilities. The parenting load can be shared. By going online, a novice first time parent can research their doubts about childcare and reach out to an online doctor. They can also order baby food, and have food delivered home and book a commute to work — all from their smartphone. And they can take an official teleconference and clear emails between tasks!
I’m excited for what the future journey holds for all, and specifically for women. The IT Services industry is moving ahead and impacting all industry verticals with digital innovation, which in turn will impact our individual lives — and society at large — in a very positive way. The NTT DATA WAKE UP video series presents a future I would like to see and live in.
We are going to be one big world without boundaries and so very inclusive — all enabled by digital technologies. Technology results in inclusivity. And when inclusivity becomes a default way of life, each of us — men and women alike — will leverage our inherent strengths equally.
Gender inclusivity is accepting and celebrating the inherent strengths of each, and the strength of a diverse team is enormous! My strength lies in envisioning a strategy, defining a structure and framework so that execution excellence is achieved. I was one of the founding members of Women Inspire NTT DATA (WIN) in India. It was, indeed, an excellent opportunity to initiate WIN as a pan-India forum. It is an important step in my journey. While I enjoyed my role as Pan-India WIN Lead at a corporate initiative level, it was equally fulfilling to mentor employees when they needed it. Many needed a little support to realize their potential to manage a successful career and personal life, with the reassurance that it is okay to ask for support. Every individual can be unique and powerful.
In India, the government is focused on enabling STEM education for girls, which is highly rewarding and progressive. Educating girls is a key factor for inclusivity, as educated women have easier access to technology – and in turn have the privilege of gender inclusivity. We need more girls trained and focused on STEM and digital technologies. In addition, we need conscious and continuous focus on sustaining the inclusive workplace, which accounts for the uniqueness of the gender-specific needs, such as modern maternity, childcare, and healthcare for women. To accomplish this, we need to leverage the strengths that are unique to our gender to create a better workplace in the future.
NTT DATA International Women’s Day 2020 Blog Series:
- Mary Edwards, President, Healthcare Provider Services — “Each for Equal” Is All About Leadership
- Kerry Kreighbaum, Vice President, One NTT Strategy — "Each for Equal" is About Growth and Relationships
- Emily Lewis-Pinnell, Vice President of Cloud and Application Transformation — “Each for Equal” Is All About Balance
- Mona Charif, Chief Marketing Officer — "Each for Equal" Is About Not Waiting for the World to Change