Pooja MalpaniPooja Malpani is the Head of Engineering for Bloomberg Media. She leads the engineering team responsible for consumer media, marketing and data visualization.

This includes supporting Bloomberg.com, consumer mobile applications, smart television apps, other connected devices, as well as the systems that deliver market-moving news, data, audio and video to consumers and syndication partners. Her group also manages Bloomberg’s marketing web sites, as well as various Bloomberg Philanthropies sites.

Prior to Bloomberg, Pooja was at HBO Digital Products, where she led the Purchase and Identity engineering teams for HBO Go and HBO Now. Her group was responsible for Subscription Management, including Auth, Direct Commerce and Partner Commerce across web, mobile and connected devices. Her group managed HBO’s streaming user services, including scaling for high traffic shows like ‘Game of Thrones’.

Prior to joining HBO, Pooja spent 9 years at Microsoft, leading the engineering efforts on a variety of features for Skype for Business and Skype for consumers.

Pooja is an ambassador for women in technology and is actively involved in engineering initiatives related to diversity.

Pooja graduated from Indiana University with a Masters in Computer Science.

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

I have worked in technology for around 17 years, starting my career at a consulting firm, before moving on to product companies including Microsoft, where I primarily dealt with communications and streaming across products like Microsoft Office & Skype. I then moved on to the television network HBO, working on its subscription management platform – preparing it for high-traffic shows like “Game of Thrones” where the digital services got millions of concurrent hits.

About two years ago, I moved to Bloomberg to lead Engineering for its Media division. In my current role, I lead an amazing set of teams that are responsible for web and native mobile applications and supporting systems that deliver market-moving news, data, audio and video to our consumer audience, as well as syndication partners. My group also manages Bloomberg’s marketing web sites as well as various Bloomberg Philanthropies sites.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Yes and no. I didn’t sit down at the start and plan out my career; there was no single trigger for me deciding on a particular course. In reality, it’s been a series of decisions and learnings about myself that have helped guide me from role to role.

Very early on, I’d deliberately pick roles and areas that I didn’t know much about, but knew they would expose me to a variety of new skills. It really taught me to feel like I could be left in any muddy pool and clear the water — quickly building a reputation for leaving things significantly better than I found them.

Some larger decisions were more deliberate, I knew I wanted to feel a sense of ownership for my work, so I left consultancy to work in a product company. I also knew I really responded well to working in the same location as my manager, so I started to prioritise roles and teams where that was the case, as well as organisations that shared my own values. Naturally, this is changing nowadays since more people are working remotely and there’s more assurance of equal experience regardless of location. This is particularly true in the software engineering world, where the remote work scene is pretty fantastic.

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

We all face challenges in our careers. I have worked and built a great support system full of different perspectives throughout the formative years of my career.

Usually I’ve found solutions in tackling technical problems head on or by having hard 1:1s with leadership. Typically, I made sure I was talking to the right people at the right time. One time, I even made the decision to leave a team because our values and goals weren’t aligned and knew I would never feel empowered or satisfied in the role.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Helping other technologists succeed. I take huge pride in being a mentor and playing a part in other people’s successes. I’ll always continue to do this, as I find it incredibly humbling and rewarding.

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

I don’t think I can pick one thing, but here are three things I do: display enthusiasm, excellence, and empathy. Enthusiasm is hugely important to me. It helps drive passion into the day-to-day. Excellence is about making sure I’m giving my all to whatever I’m doing, no matter how small. Whether that means adding technical leadership or management excellence – it all plays a part. The third is empathy. It’s so important to be open-minded and empathetic towards customers, stakeholders, teammates, and even someone who is breathing fire down my neck to get something done.

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

Technology is so pervasive today. There are so many opportunities within the field that you can afford to be picky. Find an area of the technology world you feel strongly about, and your passion will guide you. Whether it’s electric vehicles, health tech, hospitality, media, space exploration, or insurance systems, there will always be something in an area that you’re interested in.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

It’s a sad reality that barriers do exist for women in technology. I hope in my lifetime that these will fade away. When scanning a random meeting of engineers, the odds are that there are fewer women than men. This only gets more extreme as you go up the leadership chain. I find hope in the growing awareness around this issue and the fact that many companies are finally putting diversity, inclusion and an intersectional view on gender equality/equity front and centre in their business plans.

My advice to everyone is to acknowledge and challenge barriers to create an open, more inclusive workplace culture. Investing in programmes like connecting underrepresented groups with mentors and finding new ways to share opportunities fairly across the business can really help to diminish barriers.

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

Companies can rethink the way talent acquisition and talent programmes look. Businesses need to stop hiding behind the excuse of not getting enough women in the pipeline. As Melinda Gates said during a keynote at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, “Let’s change the pipeline”. There shouldn’t be one single channel for women, or even people in general, into the workplace.

Bloomberg has returner programmes, where women who haven’t been working for a while are supported back into working life. We have programmes where people from non-software backgrounds are reskilled, even upskilled, to get a foot in the door. Businesses need to look at those who are already working, what opportunities are available to them to move up or across to where they truly want to be. And if you don’t have enough role models, finding business initiatives into how to get more is essential.

There is currently only 17% of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

In discussions on this over the years, one idea always stuck with me. What if all the managers, VPs and other leaders across the business had performance-related goals tied back to which diverse talent they are training to take their place before they get promoted? This would breed a culture where role models and mentorship is baked into the KPIs of seniority.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Today there are so many voices out there. Podcasts, blogs and books are helpful, but it’s important not to get overwhelmed. It is all about picking and choosing what works for you and what is applicable to your own passion and unique circumstances.

Anything else?

For women and people from any underrepresented group thinking about getting into STEM, who are debating whether to pursue a career or not, do not be deterred by some of the barriers to entry. Take any issue in society and technology is usually there in some way trying to bridge the gap. It is bringing people together and making the world smaller. When taking a step into technology it can also open up possibilities to friends and younger siblings to see an open pathway. Rest assured that there will always be female technologists who will be very happy to advocate for women, wherever they find themselves in the industry.

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