Welcome to the next part of our Women and Diversity in IT editorial series. This series aims to speak with women about their experience in the IT and Testing industries. Focusing on their stories, their highs and lows, their role, their advice to aspiring women testers and engineers, and who/what inspired them to pursue a career in IT and climb the ladder, we will explore what is it like for women in tech industries: from the diversity and inclusion to the challenges and successes.
Priyanka Kulkarni is a Test Automation Associate Manager at Accenture in India.
So, we talked to Priyanka, to find out more about why she joined the tech industry, what was her experience, what are the challenges she faces as a woman in Testing, and her advice to aspiring women engineers and testers.
First of all, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your current role?
I have a bachelor’s degree and I joined my current organization in 2008. I have been working here for the last 12.5 years. My current role is that of a Test manager. I directly manage test efforts consisting of about 20-25 employees and am responsible for their performance appraisals as well.
What inspired you to get involved in the IT industry?
When I was in college, the IT industry was growing leaps and bounds in India. It seemed lucrative and seemed to offer young women like me enough opportunities to learn, grow and build successful careers for themselves.
Did you study IT and if so, where and what was that experience like?
I graduated with a degree in electronics and communication. We did study C, Java, and the basics of IT as a part of our curriculum. I complete my education in India. At the time, it felt great to be learning about upcoming technologies and being in the thick of things!
What is your expertise and what is a typical day for you?
I have 12 years of experience in Testing. A typical day would be to start my day by listing down my things to do and prioritizing my tasks. I start my day with a touch-base meeting with my team so we are all aligned.
During the day I catch up on my work like estimates for new test efforts, preparing test strategy/ test plan, overseeing test activities and evenings end with catching up with onshore client teams.
What is your favorite part of testing?
I’ve always been passionate about the quality of my work – it could be a simple thing like cleaning up my kitchen or building a piece of software. Guess this is what makes me enjoy my work so much. I love ensuring that the piece of software that we release is robust and bug-free.
What do you think of gender diversity in testing and in the tech industry, in general?
It’s a good thing that gender diversity is getting the attention and prioritized more than ever!
Diversity can totally change the dynamics of a team, brings about balance and new perspectives, and can only improve the quality and affect productivity for the better.
What do you think are the challenges women come across in that industry?
Unconscious bias, mansplaining, and glass ceilings!
What do you think are the most important qualities of successful tech leaders today?
Discipline, being up to date with new technologies, being able to network.
How do you keep your team motivated despite conflicts and obstacles?
The team feels motivated when they get to speak about their feelings and see their concerns addressed. When you hone the team and appreciate their work on good days, they have the ability to keep going on bad days.
I try to give the team a ‘break’ day after a typically tough week to help them recharge.
Do you have any ideas or initiatives that could benefit women working in the tech industry?
Women should stick with women. They should pull each other up and definitely learn to network!
What do you think is the best part of being a woman in tech?
Technology is here and now! All the world is heavily dependent on it. It’s great that we get to be actively involved with the way the world runs and have the power to propel it forward.
Women are now actively a part of tech and that’s the best part.
What are your current goals? What are you currently working on?
Catch up on the cloud bandwagon! And yeah, lose some weight!
I’m working on completing some cloud-based certifications right now.
What are you the proudest of in your career so far?
There is an award my organization gives to recognize excellence at work. I was given that award twice in my career. As a part of the recognition, we were allowed to take one family member out for dinner to a 5-star restaurant. The pride in my mom’s eyes made all the sleepless nights worth it.
What’s the most important risk you took in your career?
I was sent on an assignment to the USA just 2.5 years into my career. It was a very promising role and I was having the time of my life. Had I stayed, I would definitely have applied for a green card and be promoted to much better pay.
I chose to bow out of that role and return to India to my family because I needed to be with my mom at that time. I don’t regret it one bit.
What have you learned from your experience so far?
It all boils down to being disciplined, organized, and hardworking! These 3 qualities, can take you places.
Do you have any advice for anyone considering a career in the tech industry?
Even though most workplaces are now relaxing some rules, to make it more appealing to the millennials, never ever cross a professional boundary, maintain ethics and be sincere in all that you do
Finally, do you have a memorable story or an anecdote from your experience you would like to tell?
I got a taste of German punctuality this one time. Our office campus was huge and comprised of 8 buildings in total. I had set up a meeting at 2 pm but hadn’t realized that my previous meeting was from 1.30 pm to 2 in a different building. Although that meeting ended 5 mins early, I had to walk to a different building and had to use the loo en route.
I somehow managed to reach the conference room at 2.03 pm and took another 5 mins to set up the projector etc. One gentleman, development lead was a veteran from Germany. He waited till I set up my projector and then proceeded to tell me that I was late for my own meeting. He politely refused to attend the meeting as I was late and asked me to reschedule. I was dumbfounded but that was a very important lesson for me.