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Paving the Way for the Women of Tomorrow

Leadership
Productivity
Hiring, Retaining, or Firing

21 May, 2021

Aravinda Gollapudi
Aravinda Gollapudi

VP of Engineering at Sage

Aravinda Gollapudi, Vice President of Engineering at Sage, sees her position in the industry as valuable leverage, giving her the power to illuminate the path ahead for young women eager to revolutionize their new industry.

Problem

After reaching a certain point in my career, there was a dawning of this realization that young women going through the educational requirements really did not understand what they wanted to do in the field. Worse than that, many were choosing to leave the field altogether, or to not even join to begin with. I saw female students avoid certain roles and that got me constantly thinking of ways that we could be doing more for them. This is a great career to partake in, and we are heavily underrepresented.

Needless to say, I’m brown. Sometimes, I feel awkward. I was always the only woman at the table, so I am more than familiar with the feeling of being uncomfortable in my shoes, especially when giving a presentation or dealing with people outside of the company. Earlier in my career, people would try to avoid eye contact with me, not necessarily out of rudeness, but because they didn’t know what to do with me. They had trouble considering the possibility that I could add value.

Actions taken

Learning the definition of what it really means to be a leader was a very important part of my trajectory as a professional. I recall a pivotal moment, the moment where I learned the importance of truly leaning in with a diversity initiative, with a focus primarily on bringing more women into technology.

These observations were the fuel that led me to work deliberately to emerge as an example for young women to follow. In the early days of my career, I was doing a lot of things that were actually really hard for me. I was enamored with the things that I could not do, the things that scared me. I have always had this trait that has allowed me to go after things beyond me, but I know that many young women have trouble finding this within themselves for many reasons.

I learned to frame my perspective around the overall organization that I was a part of, the vision that every member of the team shares and strives toward, and the purpose driving the work being done. This allowed me to reach a broader audience and widened the pool of talent that I was able to utilize. I scaled myself and up-leveled the way that I was leading others. How do we all grow together? Translating this hunger for growth into how I was building my teams really paid off over time.

Whenever the opportunity presents itself, I am always the first to volunteer as a representative in circles with many young women ready to begin their careers — events at schools, mentoring opportunities, or recruiting events. Outreach is key.

Lessons learned

  • If there are no women represented at the communal table, who will speak for them? This goes beyond female representation — this is a matter of diversity overall. We all need to play our part; diversity of thought and diversity of talent starts first with supporting talent as it grows, so that is ready to take on these roles when the time comes, and it continues as we show that there is enough coverage on the other side to keep them safe.
  • I have been fortunate enough to have learned from mentors whose feedback was always focused on me, and developing me as a person and as a professional. This should be prioritized over mentoring a junior solely to benefit the company. You teach them the skill set, and then move on to show them how they can have impact and to help others themselves.
  • Now, at this stage in my career, I am truly focused on the legacy that I leave behind over everything else that I do. Having all of this experience behind me to draw upon allows me to balance my priorities and to make room for giving back. I am always aspiring to reach a new position that allows me to do this more effectively. I am so thankful to everybody who has helped me along the way.

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