Archana Chaudhary is an Engineering Manager at Adobe. In this episode of Women In Tech, Archana talks about her career path, some of the challenges she has faced as a woman in tech, and how she helps younger women by mentoring them.
Hello everyone. I am Archana Chaudhary. I am the engineering manager at Adobe. I manage a team of mobile engineers working in the business unit of Adobe Experience Cloud. My team works on a variety of digital products and software to help marketers build better experiences for their solutions.
My team helps customers enhance the mobile apps for their business to incorporate Adobe’s Analytics and other marketing related software. I have been a manager for about seven years now. I use the Plato platform both as a mentor and as a mentee.
I was an individual contributor in the past. I started my career as an electronic design automation engineer working in C++ and writing code for Verilog and VHDL compilers. I wanted to create software which I can explain to everyone and I found that EDA was not one of them. Explaining that there is a chip inside the computer and I write software to program that chip was not something that my friends and family could connect to.
So I moved towards web applications and started as a feature developer in Adobe Sign. Very soon, I started taking lead roles, then I managed customer issues, and eventually I moved into an engineering manager. That is how I reached an engineering manager role.
Once I was there I was well settled as an engineering manager in Adobe Sign. I have now moved across teams and BUs within Adobe and love the challenge of the mobile world. It has been fun. Engineering management is definitely a transferable skill.
I have loads of responsibility as an engineering manager. I do mentoring, people management, project management, product management, act as a business advocate to engineers and lastly participate in technical design.
My influence on a day-to-day basis is about 35 engineers. I also participate in organization level initiatives like unified engineering which increases my influence area to about 400+ engineers.
My goal is to build relationships with my engineers so that they can see me as their friend, as their co-engineer and as their mentor. Some people say I push them and they like that I constantly ask them to be better than what they are today.
I really like engineering management because it gives me the opportunity to stay technical while at the same time get the business perspective, lead teams, and influence people.
I think one of the biggest things about being a woman in tech is that most of the time you find yourself alone in meetings and projects.
It was not as much of a problem while studying. Even though women were a minority in my master’s CS degree, we were the smarter gang. We were only about 10% of the whole class. Engineering management has fewer women and finding them is hard around here.
The biggest challenge is how do we find support either from a male counterpart or from other fellow women leaders who can become role models and we can actually learn from their experiences?
I’ll share a story. We were sitting in a meeting, discussing a new project. My boss said “I need one of you to drive this project forward”. In the room there were a total of three managers, out of which two were males. The project was very important and already had some very senior resources allocated to it.
Without waiting for a reply, he just pointed to one of the male managers who, of course, fitted the mold of a typical male engineering manager, proven to get the work done in a male dominated field, and says, “Michael, I think you can do this”.
Really?! I would have loved to take that responsibility, but I don’t fit into the typical mold and have to struggle time and again to prove myself.
And that actually drives me to become a more active participant in Plato, because I see so many other young women who want to do what I do. I want to become a role model for them.
There are many women leaders in Adobe who inspire me when they stand in front of a big audience and give big speeches about products, projects, and initiatives. I learn from young girls joining me as an intern, coming out bold and fearless in their approach.
My number one advice is stay put. When things seem hard, don't leave it on your first or even second instinct. Reach out for help. As a woman, you have already overcome a lot of other challenges in your life. This is also something to learn and become comfortable with.
Invest in yourself and your learnings. ‘Stay Put and Be Patient’ that’s my biggest advice. We cannot look back because there are so many women behind us who need to see us succeed.
I got an introduction to Plato thought my EchoSign colleagues. They introduced me to Plato early on and since then I am loving the platform.
I started as a mentee. After I had my four or five sessions as a mentee, I realized I also have a lot of knowledge I can give to people. I had some strengths from the beginning and there are more areas that have become my strengths over a period of time. So I asked to become a mentor. Over the last year or so, I have been using both sides.
Being a mentor helps me not only share my knowledge with others but also helps me improve day by day. When I talk to somebody who is struggling with certain things and my mind goes into giving them a suggestion, I then find solutions to my own problems.
That has been the biggest benefit for me, not just to share my knowledge but to find solutions to my own problems when talking to others who are facing that. The stories from other leaders help in seeing some working examples of how others have overcome a particular problem or issue.
Plato connects engineering managers and PMs with experienced mentors and tech leaders from top companies like Google, Lyft, Netflix, and more. You’ll get to have group mentoring sessions alongside peers, and private conversations with mentors like Archana.
To get a taste of Plato, sign up for a group mentoring session here — http://community.platohq.com