Bindu Upadhyay is a Service Designer and UX Researcher who is a champion of human-centred design. Bindu helps teams reap the benefits of research by increasing awareness, engagement and adoption. She helps businesses to innovate and grow by bringing actionable insights to drive the creation of successful products and services.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role?

My academic and professional background spans engineering, product management, and UX research. I earned a doctorate from Eindhoven University of Technology, where my research focused on the impact of technology on people. Additionally, I hold bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Engineering Design. As someone deeply passionate about design, people, and technology, joining Mendix perfectly aligned with my interests. As a Lead Service Designer at Mendix, I help build impactful products and foster collaboration across disciplines. Through structuring collaborative practices, I empower individuals to become Makers, translating complex technical concepts into practical, enterprise-ready applications.

In addition to my day job, I teamed up with several colleagues a year and a half ago to start the Gender Equity at Mendix (GEM) initiative. This employee resource group is dedicated to fostering gender equity through moments of learning, connection, and celebration.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I wouldn’t say I ever did that. Instead, I’ve focused on identifying opportunities to use my strengths, all while continuing to learn and grow professionally.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

Early in my career, I learned the importance of seeing challenges as opportunities. Common hurdles, such as finding your voice or determining the next steps, are experiences many of us share. In these moments, I would often turn to mentors or those who inspire me for guidance and support.

When I first joined Mendix, I faced numerous challenges in establishing Service Design within my business unit. During these times, I found immense support from my director, who offered me invaluable advice and encouraged me to use my strengths.

Additionally, communities like Gender Equity at Mendix (GEM) have been instrumental in creating a safe space and support for me and other women in tech. Having this community allows us to identify challenges and share strategies on how to overcome them.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

One of my biggest career achievements is building a community for myself – and for others. I’m proud of my involvement in initiatives like GEM, where we’ve created a space for women to discuss challenges unique to us in the tech industry.

In addition to that, I’m proud to have been invited to speak in Figma’s Config2022 conference in San Francisco on how to collaboratively improve products.

This wouldn’t have been possible without the community of mentors who’ve supported my growth. I feel privileged in being able to pass their mentorship forward to others.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in your achieving success?

Undoubtedly, my mindset has been a major factor in everything that I’ve achieved thus far. Throughout my career, I’ve nurtured my sense of curiosity, which has opened doors to new opportunities and helped me build new connections with people.

At Mendix, this curiosity has translated into professional growth opportunities. I’ve been able to attend conferences and training sessions which have helped me become a better leader, designer, and mentor.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

If you’re aiming to excel in your career in technology, one of the biggest barriers to overcome is imposter syndrome. According to KPMG, this is a challenge that three out of four women across various careers face, often manifesting as self-doubt and a lack of confidence.

However, it’s essential to view these challenges as opportunities for growth, maintain belief in your abilities, and create a space to support each other.

Imposter syndrome can be a common pitfall, but by recognising and capitalising on your unique strengths, you can find your voice and establish confidence as a subject matter expert.

What barriers for women working in tech are still to be overcome?

Over the years, we’ve seen changes in the tech sector and beyond to address barriers women face, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. Lack of awareness around this issue is still one of the major hurdles.

It is easy for us to live in a bubble assuming that workplaces and society are already inclusive, but the underrepresentation of women in leadership roles and the persistence of unconscious biases and stereotypes suggest otherwise. For example, it is common for female team members to be automatically tasked with soft skills tasks.

I am lucky to work in a company that values diverse perspectives and openness. And as a role model for junior female designers and engineers, I want to demonstrate that they, too, can assume leadership roles within the industry.

What do you think companies can do to support and progress the careers of women working in technology?

The first step in supporting women’s careers in technology is encouraging more girls to pursue tech in the first place. There was no significant gender disparity in tech the yearly years, but we see a drastic drop in the number of girls continuing their tech education at the university level. Sadly, this trend continues into the workforce. Recent McKinsey & Company research shows an 18% drop in women applying for technical degrees at university, followed by a further 15% drop when they enter the workplace. As a result, women only hold 22% of roles in tech.

In DevOps, the gender disparity is even larger, with women occupying only 8% of roles in Europe. Clearly, there is an issue, and we must address it to make our most technical roles female-friendly.

This starts with reshaping the work environment and providing a robust support network. For example, at Mendix, our GEM initiative enables us to host meetups with female-led organisations such as Female Ventures and Women in Tech, fostering dialogue and shared learning among other women in similar roles or facing similar challenges.

In addition to creating a support network, we must also acknowledge that women still handle the majority of caregiving duties at home, which impacts their careers and decision to stay in the tech industry long-term. Many are responsible for handling the administrative tasks for the household. In addition to that, if there are kids in the family, women are often the primary parent referent at school. These duties come on top of their day-to-day job, meaning they have even less time than their male counterparts for networking and, most importantly, upskilling – a fundamental part of any tech role. Without the appropriate support and advocacy, female tech  professionals can easily feel isolated and overwhelmed, potentially leading to their exit from the industry.

The next big challenge is not just retaining but developing female talent. Senior advocates – often men in DevOps – have a huge role in opening doors to their female staff. Each employee should be given opportunities that play to their strengths; it’s down to the team leads to identify these strengths and design a career path that capitalises on their skills and development opportunities.

Lastly, tech companies must explore ways to attract a broader range of female talent. The current pool of female DevOps talent is limited, so considering candidates with strong experience in computer science, engineering, or business could greatly benefit DevOps teams as they become more integrated. The rise of solutions like low-code, which enable less technical staff to take part in digital transformation initiatives, opens doors to many more tech-savvy women to enter technical teams.

In an ideal world, how would you improve gender diversity in tech?

In addition to what I’ve already outlined, leaders must be willing to listen to a broader range of voices. This is crucial across all aspects of diversity, equity, and inclusion. In the tech industry, particularly where there is a significant gender imbalance, the majority of leaders are likely to be men. They might be actually hearing the concerns of their female employees for the first time.

Providing a platform for women to express their views and suggest ways to improve the culture within their divisions, their companies, and the industries at large, is a huge step in the right direction.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

I’d recommend exploring the works of Brené Brown and Terri Trespicio, both of whom are amazing speakers and leaders. Brown’s podcast and book ‘Dare to Lead’ have challenged me to step out of my comfort zone and embrace leadership.

Additionally, I’d encourage any woman working in the tech sector to get involved with local women-in-tech initiatives. It can be incredibly beneficial to build your own community. Having access to a support network of those who can understand and empathise with your unique circumstances and experiences can be invaluable throughout your career.”