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ACHIEVEMENTS - Career to date
I’m the CIO of Pure Storage, having joined the company in March of this year. Before this, I spent several years working at Oracle - 26 years to be exact - in its Applications IT organisation. In my current role as CIO, I’m responsible for driving Pure Storage’s technology-enabled business transformation. This means I set the overall strategy, defining and executing the roadmap for technology Infrastructure and Business Applications.
I studied Mechanical engineering at the University of Mumbai, and initially didn’t anticipate going into the IT industry. However, my eyes were opened to the opportunities in technology during university campus recruitment. An interview with Tata Consultancy Services really piqued my interest and I accepted a job offer from them.
Within a year I had my first overseas project assignment in Zurich, Switzerland. Since I’d never left my home country before, this was an amazing experience for me. Later, I also had a year long assignment in Sydney, Australia, which was an opportunity I hadn’t imagined until then. I spent six years with Tata Consultancy Services before moving to Toronto, Canada.
While I waited for my Canadian work papers to be issued, I pushed myself to build a professional network in this new country, something that didn't come naturally to me then. However, through this, I came to understand the importance of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. I truly believe that if something scares you, say yes to it. Looking back on it, this was a pivotal period in my career.
With my Canadian work permit in order, I took up another consultancy role with a company called SHL, System House Limited. This gave me the opportunity to work with different technologies and to develop my analytical skills, building on the foundation gained at TCS.
After four years in Toronto, I moved to Silicon Valley and joined Oracle Corporation’s Applications IT organisation, where I stayed for 26 years. I quickly rose to a management role, ultimately becoming Group Vice President, running a 600+ organisation.
Earlier this year, my career journey continued with an exciting new chapter, when I assumed the CIO role at Pure Storage, as part of its newly formed Digital Transformation Group (DTG). In this role, I work directly with Pure’s Chief Digital Transformation Officer and ensure that Pure’s IT team is delivering what it needs to in order to support our wider business, as well as customers.
Being a CIO requires me to wear many hats: from being an expert in technology, to a collaborator and negotiator, as well as an organisational whiz. I’m also passionate about maintaining and cultivating a positive, inclusive culture, which I try to do by leading with empathy, building a team that supports one another, and, of course, collaborating well together. I enjoy the challenge that comes with this.
DIVERSITY - The opportunities and challenges faced by women as they pursue an IT career
It’s encouraging to see that there are more women in technology leadership positions and on boards than when I first began my career. Of course, there’s still a long way to go before female representation at senior levels of the technology sector is truly representative of our global diversity.
The idea that any person of a minority group - gender, sexual identity and representation, race, socio-economic status, etc. - is an asset to an organisation, by bringing diversity of thought and experience, is slowly but surely growing. Companies that are diverse, in any regard, are becoming more and more
commonplace, and this is something to celebrate. Talent has no one gender, race or otherwise. Above all, companies must reflect the diverse society in which we live.
From my perspective, women tend to be natural communicators, making them well-suited to bringing people together and building high performing teams. Often when people from minority communities lead teams, it inherently creates a more inclusive environment, where people generally feel more comfortable sharing ideas and contributing to the group. It takes a variety of minds, ideas and experiences to make products and services that work for all people. Having women at the table enhances the chances of success, in my view.
ASPIRATIONS - What more can be done to help women in the IT industry
There are many reasons to be positive right now if you’re a woman in the IT industry. There now seems to be a bigger push for the next generation of girls to get into STEM early and often, which I believe comes in part from companies and enterprises sponsoring programs within schools and colleges that weren’t as prevalent 10 years ago. I believe it’s also very important for women to take the time and make the effort to help other women succeed by sharing experiences and resources.
We’re also seeing that more and more young people entering the workforce feel more compelled to join organisations whose values mirror their own - especially when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion. That said, that doesn’t mean we have to resort to ‘tokenism.’ Hiring should be based on merit but the tech industry must realise that, in order to attract and retain female talent, it must embrace inclusion. Initiatives such as post-maternity support for mothers, and allowing for flexible working to accommodate things such as childcare, are realistic and achievable ways to encourage women to pursue a career in technology.
We clearly still have a long way to go, but acknowledging the issues and the initial steps that have been taken point to a positive future - and that’s something to be excited about.