Sumathi Bhaskaran has added many feathers to his hat in 25 years in the tech industry. She started as a software developer, helping transform retail and travel/hospitality organizations with stints at Tesco and SapientNitro.
Today, as Senior Director of Software Engineering at Lowe’s India, Sumathi is responsible for transforming the systems, services and applications used by thousands of customer service associates in Lowe’s physical contact centers. and those who work from home.
“As a child, the first thing I drew was a square-headed figure, which my parents told me was a robot. I was fascinated by science and technology during my youth. Also, animated movies were a big thing with Jurassic Park and Terminator,” she says.
Speaking of her father’s role in sparking her interest in the subject, Sumathi recalls a summer vacation when he insisted that she join a short BASIC course to do DIY.
“The professor happened to be a computer whiz. She encouraged me to try different ways to solve the same problem, which made me very interested in the field. A few years later, when it was time to go to college, I invariably chose computer science as my major. I loved problem solving and logical thinking, so computer science was a great choice,” she adds.
After her master’s degree in computer science, she began her career in Singapore as a developer.
In a conversation with His historySumathi traces her journey as a woman in tech, supporting women in the field, as well as her greatest successes and challenges.
Edited excerpts from the interview:
His history (HS): Tell us about the highlights of your career.
Sumathi Bhaskaran (SB): When I started as a developer, I was coding in PERL and shell scripting. Java was pretty new these days, and I picked it up in early versions. It was for me one of the most rewarding periods of learning. I feel that the first decade of his career points the compass in the foggy sea of choices. The key: observe and learn.
As my career progressed, I was one of the youngest members of the e-learning team/faculty at the Institute of Systems Science in Singapore, building its learning platform internal online.
I took the opportunity to lead the Web Services Consulting group and my team ended up number one in terms of revenue generated that year. This experience left an indelible impact on me. It taught me the importance of seizing the moment. I also had a long stint at a UK based consultancy and major retailer where I worked with some of the best tech and people.
HS: Tell us about your current roles and responsibilities.
SB: I lead the technology and transformation of contact center systems, services and applications used in Lowe’s physical contact centers and those working from home. My responsibilities include transforming existing systems with new systems, CRM, conversational AI with NLU (Natural Language Understanding) and workforce management, among others, helping to personalize customer service and sales experience from Lowe.
I lead a team of over 120 people and love the interesting business problems we solve. This area is diverse and has its nuances. One day I’m in a design review discussing the next big thing to transform the contact center, and the next I’m talking to my graduate engineers about what they’re up to over the weekend. end.
I appreciate the multiple responsibilities that this role brings to me. I am also actively involved in mentoring women in technology and am instrumental in the Women Empowered Business Resource Group (WE BRG).
HS: As more women enter tech, what more can be done to retain them in the workforce?
SB: It is largely up to organizations to ensure that women in tech are adequately trained and supported at every step of their journey to growth and success. It is essential to create ecosystems for women to thrive in organizations.
Lowe’s WE BRG aims to empower women to realize their full potential inside and outside of Lowe’s by creating a culture that attracts, develops and retains top female talent at all levels.
We have also organized programs, including Bring-Her-Back, aimed at improving the experiences of returning mothers. We also have Do-It-Herself, a comeback program that provides apprenticeship and internship opportunities for female technicians who have interrupted their careers for personal reasons to hone their technical skills and be skills-ready.
HS: What are your greatest successes and challenges?
SB: At work, he transformed contact center systems, ensuring that customers and agents received personalized customer service and sales experience.
I treat fitness very seriously and therefore do not miss my 10k steps. I also strive to travel as much as possible and have new experiences as I believe traveling opens the mind and soul. I’m still trying to juggle it all with my job and my family obligations like everyone else.
HS: Why do you think there are few women in leadership positions in technology?
SB: There are several reasons why fewer women are moving into leadership positions in tech, chief among them being the lack/barriers of equal access to opportunities in tech roles due to pre-existing biases.
Gender bias, sensitivity training and creating more female role models could help close the gender gap and pave the way for more female leaders.
Women expect to do everything, as caregivers and professionals. They are overwhelmed with professional and personal work, which makes it difficult for them to hold leadership positions. Lack of support is a major factor in the decline in the number of women in leadership positions.
Additionally, there is a lack of tailored training programs for female technicians to learn and advance in their careers. Organizations need to develop and create more training opportunities for women who want to advance in their careers.
Finally, women themselves need to feel confident and be more open to opportunities and risks.
HS: Why should every organization have an equal opportunity mentality?
SB: It encourages respect between employers and employees, which often leads to higher loyalty, commitment and productivity. People can surprise you in the right circumstances with the right opportunities. Promoting an equal opportunity policy in the workplace would foster a culture of caring and provide innovative and fresh perspectives in every function.
HS: What are your biggest inspirations?
SB: I always admired the stamina of my housewife mother, who handled multiple roles in the home. My friends, a group of strong women, for their resilience against all odds.
Likewise, I respect the courage of women leaders in the tech industry (Seemantini Godbole, CIO and EVP at Lowe’s, is a great example), who have managed to carve out careers without losing their authenticity, despite many changes and technological challenges. .
HS: What do you like to do in your free time?
SB: I used to be a perfectionist, but with age and wisdom I realized that I would rather spend time with my family, exercise or listen to music after a hectic week, than worry about things. a messy closet.
I prioritize my backlog daily and don’t spend time getting perfect. I’ve also found that giving up some tasks that don’t matter to me in the long run and asking for help (it’s perfectly acceptable) helps.
I like the movement when traveling, but I also like the calm on a beach at sunset. Nature keeps me grounded and music keeps me sane, especially when the traffic and construction near Manyata Tech Park never stops!