WiT Woman of Quarter Fall 2011 (An Interview)

Vidhya Seetharaman is an experienced business consultant with a strong foundation in large scale business transformation and system implementation projects. She has been associated with renowned consulting firms like Deloitte and PWC. She was also the head of Planning and Strategy at Vivartha. WIT board had the wonderful opportunity of interviewing her to raise awareness about the issues faced by women in technology industry. Vidhya shared her experiences which would help women overcome challenges to move up the corporate ladder.

WIT: Please tell us a little bit about your background and why did you chose a career path in technology?

Vidhya: I am currently a consultant with Infosys Consulting in Bangalore, India. Until Feb this year, I was with Deloitte Consulting in Chicago. I joined the MSIS program right after my engineering undergrad in India. During the MSIS program, I also interned for 6 months with Pricewaterhouse Coopers in their IT Audit practice. My job profile fits in that sweet spot between business and IT, exactly for which the MSIS program trains you. To highlight few of my projects, I have been involved in large scale business transformation projects, formulation of Master Data Management Strategy and creation of an Operating model for a new prepaid product.

WIT: What influenced you to pursue a career in technology?
Vidhya: When I was pursuing my undergrad, IT was the next big thing and it was right around the time of the dot com boom. Internet cafes were cropping up at every street corner and “googling” was a verb. It was an exciting time, and I knew I wanted to be part of it. Having grown up in a family of entrepreneurs, I had a passion of doing something in management. Put this and that together and the MSIS course was the perfect place to be!

WIT: Have you had to overcome any obstacles in your career in technology that may be specific to being a woman? If so, how did you overcome them?
Vidhya: I have not had specific obstacles to confront being a woman in IT. Thanks to the amazing organizations and teams that I have been a part of. Very often, I am the only woman in a meeting or at a business lunch, and when the conversation moves to too much of sports, I do break in and change the topic to the latest episode of Hell’s Kitchen. It is important to remember that women do offer a different and necessary perspective and it is expected that we express them freely.

WIT: Are there any courses that you took in the MSIS program that you have found particularly useful in your career?
Vidhya: All of them – I mean it! I utilize a lot of the knowledge from the MSIS courses in my work. I even try to go back and refer to some of the slides and project work to refresh my memory. IT strategy, Data warehouse, Business Process Design and Project Management are few that come to mind.

WIT: What advice would you give to a woman considering pursuing a career in technology?
Vidhya: Be confident and sure of yourself. Never be afraid to voice your opinion/viewpoint. And always keep learning, especially if the subject is Football!

WIT: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Vidhya: Oh, toughie. I guess I just want to be working on something interesting with a team of wonderful and smart people.

WIT: What are the key takeaways from the MSIS program that you found useful in your career path? How has it changed your profile before and after MSIS program?
Vidhya: Among other things, the MSIS program taught me how to manage time and how to work smart. These are integral skills for any profession in this day and age.

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