Ten Times Indian Women Have Shattered The Glass Ceiling In The Global IT Scene

This was originally posted in the Polka Cafe

As we all know, the gender divide in the workplace continues to be a problem across the globe. While the numbers are low, there are times Indian women have proven that perhaps it’s not a glass ceiling, it’s a sticky floor that is holding people back. Here are ten women who have broken their fair share of glass ceilings and have proved that there is no such thing as a ‘man’s job.’

Rashmi Sinha, CEO and co-founder of SlideShare, inked a deal with LinkedIn for almost $200M!

Image credit: Women 2.0
Rashmi Sinha, originally from Delhi, has a PhD in Cognitive Neuropsychology from Brown University. In 2007, Rashmi started SlideShare, which then was acquired by LinkedIn for $199M. In the past, she also worked on MindCanvas (a game-like software for customer research) and co-founded Uzanto, a user experience consulting company.You can follow her journey via her blog here.

CEO Jayshree Ullal leads Arista Networks to IPO

Image credit: Technewsaaa

Jayshree Ullal joined Cisco via an acquisition and then oversaw 15-20 acquisitions as a Senior Vice President. She was then picked by Arista Networks to be their CEO, and under her leadership, the shares increased by 28% on opening as it raised $226M in IPO.

Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan left Google to found leading advertising platform, Drawbridge

Image credit: Women Of Vision

Mumbai girl Kamakshi had the vision to re-define the way mobile advertising was being done. She left a cushy job as Lead Scientist at Google to follow her dream, and founded Drawbridge in 2010. She has the unique distinction of her work being on board New Horizons, NASA’s farthest space mission. She has been named one of Business Insider’s “Most Powerful Women in Mobile Advertising” three years in a row. In 2014, she was named one of Ad Age’s “40 Under 40”, as well as an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist.

Pooja Sankar, CEO and founder of Piazza, got invited to meet the VP of the United States

Image credit: MPW

Pooja Sankar, an IIT Kanpur alumni, experienced the lack of peer learning and decided to do something about it. While in Business School at Stanford, Pooja was intrigued by the business ideas all around her, and spent the summer working on Piazza. Soon Stanford, MIT, Harvard and many others started using her product. To honour achievements of women, in 2012, Vice President Joe Biden invited her to a reception at his official residence in Washington, DC! Follow her here.

Raji Arasu transitioned from VP of Technology at eBay to CTO of StubHub

Image credit: Ebay.inc

Raji Arasu started her career as a Software Engineer at Oracle and grew to the role of VP of Technology at eBay, where she led numerous technology innovations. In 2011, she made the switch to CTO of StubHub, where she leads all product and engineering functions for the company. As one of the few female CTOs at a major technology company across the industry, Raji is passionate about growing women leaders in technology, both within the company and externally. Follow her here.

Box acquired analytics startup dLoop, founded by Technical Leader and Entrepreneur Divya Jain

Image credit: Box

After a career as a Software Engineer in companies like Sun Microsystems and EMC, Divya Jain got interested in Machine Learning in 2009, and by 2010, had completed a graduate certificate in data mining and analysis from Stanford. She then built dLoop, a company that uses machine learning algorithms to sort documents by relevance. In 2013, Box acquired her company, which gave it a level of data analytics that is often a required feature for enterprise customers. Follow her here.

Padmasree Warrior became Cisco’s first female CTO

Image credit: Access
Born and raised in Vijayawada, Padmasree was one of the few female students in IIT Delhi. After a Master’s degree at Cornell, she rose to the role of CTO at Motorola where she achieved great success. She joined Cisco in 2007 as CTO and subsequently co-led the worldwide engineering organisation. Many awards and accolades later, she is now the Chief Technology and Strategy Officer (CTSO) at Cisco, and is continually working on encouraging women in STEM careers. As of 2014, she is listed as the 71st most powerful woman in the world by Forbes. Follow her here.

Kirthiga Reddy appointed Head of Office, Facebook India

Kirthiga single-handedly started Facebook’s India division from scratch – shifting base from the US when she was offered this job. Under Kirthiga’s leadership, big and small Indian brands started using Facebook as an advertising platform. During the 2011 Cricket World Cup, PepsiCo India leveraged the social networking giant during their ‘Change the game’ campaign, thus exceeding their campaign targets. Follow her here.

Kumud Srinivasan runs Intel’s India operations as President

Image credit: Kumud Srinivasan
Kumud moved from Kolkata to New York to get an MS in Information Studies. Her move to Intel in 2008 was a ‘happy accident’, and it was there that she led several innovations, including the transition from 200mm wafers to 300mm. When she was offered the job to head Intel’s India operations, she jumped at the idea to move back so she could give back to the community in which she had been born and brought up. Follow her here.

Pavni Diwanji leads Google’s initiative to make their suite of products more kid-friendly

Image credit: Hackbright Academy
After college in Ahmedabad, Pavni went on to do a Masters in Computer Science from Stanford University. She spent the early part of her career at Sun Microsystems, and went on to start multiple successful companies before joining Google, where she led the development of Google+. In 2014, Pavni was appointed to lead development of versions of its most popular products, such as Search and YouTube for kids aged 12 and under. Follow her here.

Which of these accomplished women are you most inspired by? Share your thoughts and any names we may have missed out in the comments section!


5 New Year’s Resolutions For a More Diverse Team!

This was originally posted in the Salesforce Engineering Blog

Welcome to the first #SFWITWednesday post of 2015!

Have you ever felt like you want your company to level the gender gap to have a more diverse team? While there are things companies have been recently trying, there is a lot you can do as an individual that would make a huge difference! Add the following to your resolution list, and make sure to hold yourself accountable. Very soon you’ll have your diverse team and no longer be the minority in the room!

1. Refer more women to job openings at your company!

Have you been referring people to job openings at your company? Everyone has talented friends, or friends of friends. Make sure to tell them why they should work at your company, and convince them to let you refer them!

2. Recommend a qualified woman – whether there is an opening or not

At times, the recruiting process can be rushed due to a number of circumstances. It may affect the time hiring teams have to ensure they have a diverse set of applicants to consider. So why not introduce them to a stellar woman technologist any time you can so when positions do open up, they already have a diverse set of candidates to consider?

3. Say ‘YES!’ to interviewing candidates to help build a more diverse team

Like women hires – you don’t want the hiring process at your company to feel like recruiting into a fraternity… so contribute to the diversity of the interview panel! Hold your team accountable to ensure there is always at minimum one woman available to interview potential candidates.

4. Speak at conferences, meetups, and networking events

The best way to get the word out to other women, is by making yourself visible. Considering the number of women speaking at tech events can be small, people will be sure to take notice of you when you speak about the work you are doing at your company. In turn, other women technologists may want to apply!

5. Be a role model

Sign up to be a mentor to girls and women who are interested in tech, and talk to them about what you do. The tech industry lacks women role models… if you can’t find one, be one!

Readers, what new year’s resolutions have you set? What else can individuals do to increase the number of women they work with? Post in the comments below!

Salesforce Themed Halloween Costumes!

This was originally posted in the Salesforce Engineering Blog

Welcome to this week’s edition of Salesforce’s Women in Tech (WIT) Wednesday roundup! #SFWITWednesday If you love Salesforce, and don’t yet have a Halloween costume, here are some easy Salesforce themed costumes you must consider!

cloud1. Cloud

All you need is a black top, a white skirt, cotton balls, white slippers, a pillowcase cut in the shape of a cloud and… you’re set!





lightning2. Salesforce Lightning

Parker Harris‘s keynote on Lightning turned a lot of heads! Dress in all black and add the Salesforce Cloud, a Lightning bolt, and you’re good to go!





wave3. Salesforce Wave

Another Keynote favorite, Salesforce Wave, the Salesforce Analytics Cloud can be represented as well! Summer clothes, a hat and finish it up with a Wave + Salesforce Cloud image!





 Readers, what did I miss? Post in the comments below!

Why You Should Ask For A Raise Or Promotion

This was originally posted in the Salesforce Engineering Blog

“We hold ourselves back in ways both big and small, by lacking self-confidence, by not raising our hands, and by pulling back” – Sheryl Sandberg

Welcome to this week’s edition of salesforce.com’s Women in Tech Wednesday roundup! #SFWITWednesday

Have you ever wondered if women are getting paid less than men? Are you just waiting to ask for a raise you deserve because you want to avoid the pressure of asking for it, or facing the risk of rejection? Are women missing out on opportunities because they just don’t ask? While we are amidst conversations about gender pay gap and the lack of female leadership, women’s advocates and leaders are missing a simple piece of advice. It’s not just about asking for it, it’s the conversation that follows that actually matters.

What are my options?

When I started attending Meetups and networking events, I’d discuss the topic of raises and promotions with successful women and found there were two different opinions. While some said they received their raise or promotion when they deserved it and never had to ask, others advised that one should. It was only after I personally decided to muster up the courage to ask for a promotion that it finally dawned on me… Asking for a promotion is just another way to ask for feedback! When you say, “What can I do to get to the next level?” You are simply asking, “How can I improve?” Being successful is an iterative process – continuous improvement is necessary.

Do your homework

When I first brought up the promotion conversation, it was not without doing my own research first. I asked for my company’s job descriptions and self-assessed where I fit. I saw it as an opportunity to ask any questions I had of how to get to the next level. If my request for a promotion had been turned down, at least I learned how I was being perceived. The senior women I polled said they never asked for a promotion because they were happy with the speed at which their career was progressing. I believe they were having open conversations about how they were performing without specifically asking for a promotion, which can lead to the same positive outcome.

Say it like you mean it

When getting ready to have the conversation with your boss, you should compile a list of your accomplishments. This serves more than one purpose. Not only will it help paint the picture for your manager, it will also boost your confidence whenever you experience the ‘Impostor Syndrome‘ or are going through a bad day! If you have the confidence and are convinced you are ready for the next level, you’ll be more convincing to your manager as well. Don’t rush it and don’t give up! Asking for a raise or promotion may not be boiled down to one short conversation.

Meet Salesforce’s Women in Technology Superheroes!

This was originally posted in the Salesforce Engineering Blog

If you’ve been keeping up with the news these days, it’s no surprise there is a need for more women in technology across the industry. I believe one reason is that there are not enough WIT role models! Thankfully salesforce.com has a number of female engineers leading major products, and driving important technical decisions. At salesforce.com we celebrate our women technical leaders – our superheroes – without whom our products would not be the same!

Here are just 8 of our women in technology superheroes:

1. Reena Mathew, Principal Architect (Quality Engineering)

Superpower: Telekinesis that can summarize the details of a problem for different audiences.

Reena is currently the Product Owner of the Pipeline team in the Data Center Automation Cloud. She was the first QE to work on the Apex Language, the world’s first ‘on demand’ programming language. Her mantra, “Don’t worry, be happy,” is what got her to be the first QE in the history of salesforce.com to be promoted to the Architect and Principal Architect level. You can follow her at @reenamathew.

2. Theresa Vietvu, Architect (Quality Engineering)

Superpower: Extreme strength to continually attempts things out of her comfort zone.
Theresa has worked on almost all areas of the Salesforce application in the 12 years that she has been at the company. She now works on the API infrastructure. Even as an Architect, she has remained hands-on helping to test and ship features as a result of her unwavering passion for quality. Additionally, she still mentors and on-boards new hires to help share and teach our quality focused culture. Her motto, “It’s better to ask for forgiveness than ask for permission,” has helped her accumulate a stack of patents issued in her name. You can follow her on LinkedIn.

3. Bala Subramanian, Architect (Engineering Services)

Superpower: Laser sharp vision that cuts through chaos to create execution plans.

Bala currently works as the Architect in theData.com business unit of salesforce.com. She founded the salesforce.com Release Engineering team after coming from a build and release background. Numerous releases and extremely successful datacenter build outs have Bala’s signature all over them. Bala is amazing at seeing an opportunity and taking responsibility before being asked. She successfully transitioned from being a manager to an IC which aligned more to her personal goals. You can follow her on LinkedIn.

4. Jeanine Walters, Architect (Software Engineering)

Superpower: Omnilinguist that can translate any technical conversation in a concise and effective manner.

Jeanine has worked in big and small companies in the past, including founding her own company. She now works on Salesforce1 and her biggest success was architecting a solution and building a team for a feature that no one else thought was possible. She first learned how to program when she was in the 1st grade and strongly believes in the saying, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” You can follow her on Twitter@jeaninesw.

5. Susan Levine, Architect (Software Engineering)

Superpower: Extra-sensory ability to apply deductive reasoning, logic, and the scientific method to any problem.

After leading the successful integration of theData.com acquisition, Susan now works in Sales Cloud. She created a model for the integration of numerous subsequent acquisitions. Her advice to her 24-year-old self – ”It’s okay to make mistakes, even big ones.” Fun fact: Her twin sister is a Salesforce admin and developer whom she calls when she needs product advice from the real world. You can follow her onLinkedIn.

6. Sriramana Ghadiyaram, Architect (Quality Engineering)

Superpower: Telescopic vision that focuses on the big picture while working on details.

Sriramana has had a fantastic journey! After growing up in a small Indian village with only an elementary school, she is now a well respected QE Architect and has worked on Analytics and Chatter! She has kept her enthusiasm to learn new things and approaches every job as a learning experience. Her encouragement comes from her favorite quote – ”People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing. That’s why we recommend it daily.” You can view her LinkedIn here.

7. Sue Shanabrook, Architect (Software Engineering)

Superpower: Neurocognitive ability to find the root of existing problems, foresee potential problems, and head them off.

Sue was the first developer in the Tampa office to work on Messaging, and then Monitoring & Management. She is now the Product Owner on the R&D App Delivery Cloud, and has built and structured a team that consistently and reliably delivers services to production. Some of these services include HBase Pilot, Splunk, Logging Hub stability, Message Queue, etc. You can follow her on LinkedIn.

8. Susanne Englert, Architect (Performance Engineering)

Superpower: Supersonic ability to have AHA! moments anywhere, anytime.
Susanne works on the Performance Engineering team, and has previously worked at IBM. In the past she chaired the TPC-H database benchmark development subcommittee for four years. Her initial work as a Performance Analyst is what drew her to Performance Engineering. The ‘detective hunt’ nature of the work intrigued her! She has worked alongside Computer Scientist Jim Gray who has been a source of inspiration for her. You can follow her on LinkedIn.

9. Qingqing Liu, Architect (Mobile)

Superpower: Hyper Speed where everything appears to be in slow motion around her

Qingqing works on the Salesforce mobile app, and has worked at Netapp and Genentech in the past. When Apple launched the first iPhone in 2007, she launched her first mobile app as a side project, which is where her love for ‘all things mobile’ began! She loves to hear feedback on the apps she built, and lives by her motto, “Be the change you want to see.” You can follow her on LinkedIn.

Why You Need To Build Your Personal Brand And How To Do It

This was originally posted in the Salesforce Engineering Blog

“Life isn’t about finding yourself, it is about creating yourself” – George Bernard Shaw

Welcome to this week’s edition of salesforce.com’s Women in Tech Wednesday roundup! #SFWITWednesday

Whether we like it or not, we are the managers of our own personal brand. Here are the three things I have done to build my personal brand – and you can too!

1. Shine Bright Like A Diamond

(Thanks Rihanna for our theme song!)

First things first… It’s important to be clear on what you want and who you are to really shine. Find your specific niche and build your skills to become a thought leader or expert. Beyond just building your skills, you should be known for them in a way that differentiates you from everyone else. This is key to build your personal brand!

For example, when I was a student looking for internships, I realized I was in competition with a lot of people just like me. Hundreds of people graduate every year, so I had to figure out how I could stand out. There were two things I was most passionate about – gender diversity and technology. I decided to make that my focus. I joined the Society of Women Engineers chapter on the USC campus and was eventually nominated to be on the board. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it illustrated leadership, passion and drive and that’s exactly what companies were looking for! Cut to five years later, when I was looking for a job change. My work with Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners helped me snag a job at salesforce.com!

2. Hello, Is It Me You’re Looking For

Everyone has a personal brand (including Lionel). How others perceive your online presence is just as important as how you show up in person. Make sure that when a potential employer, manager, or client does a Google search on you, they see what you want them to. It’s important across the board – blogs, websites, social media, contributions on Quora or Stack Overflow. It all matters!

Until I moved to the bay area, I didn’t have any social presence besides my Facebook profile that was locked down in a fortress of privacy. I quickly learned that people liked to keep in touch online as much as they did in person. A business card was nowhere near as valuable as having an up-to-date LinkedIn profile, a Twitterhandle, a blog or a website. A friend of mine suggested I find an online handle that I could use everywhere – now I’m easily searchable because I’m ‘SukruthaSays‘ everywhere on the internet!

3. Say What You Need To Say

While it might be intimidating to speak to a crowd, it’s critical to your personal brand that you have a topic that will get people excited (John Mayer style!). Speaking at conferences, meetups or networking events is a great way to build your network. When you prepare for your talk, force yourself to imagine yourself as the listener. This will give you a new perspective on your topic of expertise.

In 2011, my then employer sponsored a Girl Geek Dinner, and I was asked to be the engineer on the panel. I hesitated at first, but decided to do it anyway. That resulted in a chain of events that led me to be the Managing Director of Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners! Ever since, I have never said no to any speaking opportunities. This month, I spoke to the current batch of salesforce.com interns, and in the process I learnt so much that I didn’t already know about our customers and our products. Later this year, I plan to present a session at Dreamforce. Hopefully, I will catch some of you then!

Celebrating Lady Ada Lovelace day – with Rajani Ramanathan

“Believing in yourself is your best shot at success”


The goal of Ada Lovelace Day is to create new role models for girls and women in male-dominated fields by raising the profile of other women in STEM fields. Ada Lovelace Day – October 15, 2013 – is about blogging and sharing stories of women, from engineers to scientists, from technologists to mathematicians. Who has inspired you?

Over the last couple of years, several technical women have demonstrated innovation and leadership that exposed them to the public sphere, one of whom is Rajani Ramanathan. Rajani is the COO of Technology and Products at salesforce.com. With salesforce.com for 13 years, she has been part of the core team that delivered the bleeding edge technology behind salesforce.com’s pioneering array of products that power the social enterprise. She has championed innovative and efficient software development methodologies using agile principles, which leads to providing a total quality customer experience.

As the company continues to enjoy its explosive growth, part of her charter is to ensure that the employees equally grow and get to do the best work of their careers. One of her pet projects even got a shout out in this Harvard Business Review post! She is also the executive sponsor for salesforce.com’s Women in Technology employee network, focused on supporting and advancing technical women and encouraging girls to develop STEM skills. In her 13 years at salesforce.com, she has etched out a career path that is an inspiration to many at salesforce.com and beyond, which is why I wanted to profile her today.

rajanipicRajani first dabbled with computers in high school, through college, and in her  initial work years. However, she only moved to a career in technology after seven years in the workforce. Once she moved to Silicon Valley, she decided to go back to school and fell in love with Computer Science (CS).

Unlike the other women in tech who are in lead positions, Rajani carved her path without getting a Bachelor’s degree in CS at an Ivy League, which makes her all the more relatable. She has an undergraduate degree in Psychology and an MBA. At just 23 she had already founded two companies, one specializing in marketing feasibility studies, and the other on corporate space planning and interior design. “My very mosaic experience, including in Sales and Marketing helped me become a very strong business leader and I was able to bring this broad perspective when I moved to Technology”, she says.

So, what contributes to her success? Rajani enjoys solving hard problems. At every stage she has actively attempted to understand how she could bring her unique skills to organizational challenges – even if it was not a part of her job description.

Rajani also has advice to young women everywhere – “Have belief in your own abilities. You owe it to yourself to be intentional about your continuous development and career growth. I live by this personal credo- Life is a journey, a journey that shapes your life. So live and enjoy every moment like it is your last”.