Srishti Issrani, TechWomen100 award winner.
Srishti speaks to us all about her experiences working within the tech industry, winning the award, and her advice for other women.
Can you tell us about the industry you’re in and the role you play?
I am a management consultant working for a Big 4 company. Primarily, my expertise lies in implementation of large IT Transformation programmes for various clients across industries. My role involves advising clients on improving their business processes to deliver cost efficiencies.
Tell us about you award win, when did you hear and what does it mean to you?
I was anonymously nominated for the #TechWomen100 award. To be shortlisted, and to have won the award within 12 months of starting my career and amongst high-achieving women was a surreal experience. To be acknowledged for the work you do is really motivating and sets the tone for future achievements.
Why are awards like TechWomen100 so important?
I think awards like this are really important because it reminds you why you do, what you do. It’s a case of, I have a job, I’m doing my work, but what does it really mean? What impact are you bringing in the world? It’s also to celebrate the great work that us women do, and how we’re opening doors for so many people.
There are people on that list who are data scientists, who are directors and partners. These are the women who have shattered glass ceilings for the rest of us to follow. I think that’s what these awards really do, they remind you of the great work that you have done, and what more is left to do.
Are there misconceptions about women in Tech?
There’re loads! I think women in tech are generally underrepresented. Even as I was at University, involved in recruitment and other areas, it was always ‘how do we bring women on?’ and what can we do to get women into the business, or into University picking up STEM subjects? We’re seeing a change, more women are coming into STEM and doing extraordinary work.
We’re coming out bolder as well, in terms of asking for the acknowledgement we deserve, the pay we deserve. That’s highlighted a lot in the gender pay gap reports. I think work has been done to shatter some of these myths, but there’s still a long way to go.
What challenges have you faced, if any, in your career?
I think it was more of trying to make sure I, a woman, an immigrant from a minority background, got the same opportunity as others. Making sure I was given the same seat at the table as other people would be. Whether that meant voicing my opinions when I thought I was not being included, looking for alternative avenues to get my voice heard – these are things I have had to do which doesn’t come naturally to a lot of us.
As a woman, you are always trying to be proper. I have to keep myself in check when I experience the imposter syndrome, or word my sentences in a certain away to not come across as ‘emotional’. So, it’s not only having to do your daily job, but also fight your inner voices, shape your personality differently.
What do you think would encourage more women to work in the tech industry?
Having more role models. Growing up, a lot of my family or people around me were men who were doing these STEM roles. So, for me to have a female role model who is excelling in her STEM career, was very rare and difficult to find. Even now, when trying to look for mentors, trying to find someone who has the same background as you and is doing remarkable things is hard. If we showcase women more through awards, or interviews like this, I think this would encourage women to join these roles.
Companies do a lot of these initiatives, where you fast track a woman’s career, or if you have certain initiatives to have women heard, I think these are some of the ways you would get more women involved in STEM.
What advice would you give to other women looking to begin or further their career in the industry?
Network as much as you can. At a point it becomes a balance between what you do, but also who you know. Who you know is very important. Especially in a situation like we are at the moment. We are all confined to our homes and we need to reach the world, primarily through social media. I think it’s how you effectively market yourself online and find the right connections, that will help you build your brand and help grow further in your career.
What piece of advice would you give yourself at the start of your career?
It would be to take the risk and to not settle for an opportunity; because you’re ‘thankful’ that you have received it in the first place! A lot of the time, a lot of people like myself, could think, ok, I’ve got the opportunity I don’t need to ask for more.
A simple example like a salary pay rise. You could say, ‘at least I’ve got a pay rise’, but it’s taking a step back and thinking, but have I got what I deserve? It’s almost thinking as a man would, men are often not afraid to voice when they think they deserve better, or somethings not quite right.
Amplifying other women and their voices and experiences will help a lot of us. As I mention I’m still young in my career, I think a lot of time when women are young in their career, you don’t want to be seen as too bold, because that’s not seen as a good thing because you’re seen as being ‘angry’ all the time, which is not the case; you’re just asking for what you deserve.
It’s almost like a game you need to play, and someone has to tell us you’re going to have to play this game. It’s not a bad thing – your strategy is your career, that you form and implement. If someone had told me in my first job that networking, having the right conversations, playing that game is important, I think would have been very useful.
Thinking of yourself as a brand
I think what helps a lot is thinking of yourself as a brand. So, what do I bring to the table? What are your strengths and what can you contribute? Or what are your weaknesses and what do you need to work on? Continuously improve on that. Rather than thinking of yourself as not worth it or thinking nobody is going to notice you; or that you’re not going to get something.
I think that’s very important to drill into us very early on. That you’re more than just a (in my case), a diversity and gender ‘tick box’. You’re not just a tick box for companies, you’re a person who brings something, who brings value to the table. I think that’s the learning from this.
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Do you want to be featured in our series of interviews? Contact Harriet at [email protected] to have a chat! We would love to speak to you about your experience, and hear your advice to others in the industry.