Sugandha is a free spirit who takes life in her stride and plugs away at situations, good or bad, one at a time. Her successful career, her devotion to her family, her initiatives towards the development of women at IBM and colleges across the country are all components of the contributive and fulfilling life she leads.
I lead development and support for Connectors in WebSphere and focus on client growth for Connectivity & Integration and Messaging in ISA . My responsibilities include defining the product(Connectors) roadmap with architect and Product Line management, delivering it to market on time and ensuring customers are happy using it. Responsibilities also extend to interactions and interlocks with sales, tech-sales for supporting product growth in market. I am also responsible to work with my team on their career path and development. In addition, I engage in IBM's wonderful give back model of serving the community by delivering technical talks at colleges or grooming students in colleges through group mentoring.
I have a small family. My husband is also in the software industry and I have a 3 year old daughter Meera who keeps me pleasantly occupied.
Whenever I’m free, I like to read or cook something fancy. I love to travel and that it makes a more “aware” person.
What is your way of dealing with stress? How do you integrate work and personal/family life?
I believe am able to sense the onset of stress. When I see there’s a situation which can turn stressful, I sit back and think about the reasons: Is it because of too little time? Too many variables? Because of people? Or something personal? Once I figure that out, I try to prioritize and start plugging away at the problem at hand.
A good way of dealing with stress is talking. I usually call up a friend for advice, take a deep breath or just read to my daughter to take time off and start afresh.
A secret and quick way to overcome stress is by keeping an optimistic view! Positive attitude keeps me going.
Both family and work are important. At any given time, one of the two will require more time and attention. You need to smartly address what needs to be addressed first and modify your approach. My evenings are dedicated to Meera post which I align a couple of hours to work. Having a schedule really helps me stay on track.
When I’m on a holiday, I ensure there is no interruption in my family time unless there is an emergency at work. For this seamless integration, help and support from colleagues and family is critical.
A lot of girls are faced with a choice between family and career. What is your advice to them?
There isn’t a choice between Family and career. They go hand in hand and simply choosing one isn’t fulfilling. They are each other's motivation factors. Priorities can be switched but my advice is never to make a choice and compromise.
Family, friends and career should all move along together.
Please tell us about the diversity network that you have led and how it has helped women at IBM.
A bunch of women across ISL at IBM got together to discuss what would aid their development. Surprisingly, everyone spoke about professional development. In the past, women were focused on “How can I manage my family despite my job” And now, we have moved on to “How can I grow professionally despite my family demands”
That was the inspiration behind the charter for the last two year for ISL diversity group ‘Shakti’. It was recognized in Winspiration 2011 as an agent for Gender Diversity Change
There are various aspects to Shakti (much like developerette) where we a) provide mentoring, b) focus on products, codes and sales c) focus on business communication conducted by leaders and d) provide selective job shadowing
The charter is designed to provide holistic learning for the participating women.
What are some interesting career options in IT for women?
IT is a vast field with various career options. From the conventional roles in programming, testing and developing to the unconventional roles in sales, tech sales, and strategy, there is a lot of versatility.
The decision must be based on your aptitude and not the general trend. A product management role with people responsibility, hardcore development or technical evangelism are all equally fulfilling and challenging. Also remember that Management won’t take you away from technical arena and technical development won’t take you away from people centric roles. In a nutshell, , there is no shortcut to promotions or success. Believing and enjoying what you do, challenging yourself out of your comfort zone will take you on a fulfilling career journey.
The choice is based on your interest and there are literally scores of choices!