Priyanka RoyPriyanka Roy serves as Director of Customer Success, International, for Validity.

Priyanka has over a decade’s experience building relationships with customers on a foundation of technical understanding, leading a team of customer success managers at Validity to work with clients on optimising their CRM & email programs and providing best practice recommendations. Priyanka is also a passionate mentor for her female colleagues and employees at Validity to help them become more confident and progress in their careers, as she strongly believes more work needs to be done to achieve equality in the industry.

Prior to Validity, Priyanka held core technical roles in Oracle’s Account Management team, before which she was an Insurance Front Line Underwriter at Aviva in India. She moved to the UK in 2011 to pursue her passion for technology.

Priyanka holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Biotechnology, both from Bangalore University.

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

I moved to the UK in 2011 to continue pursuing my passion for technology, after moving to the US from India. I’m currently the Director of Customer Success, International, for the customer data quality and email deliverability leader Validity.

I’ve spent over a decade harnessing the skill of building relationships with customers on a foundation of technical understanding, and I now lead a team of customer success managers at Validity to work with clients on optimising their CRM & email programs and providing best practice recommendations. In my current role, I’m also passionate about mentoring my colleagues to help them become more confident and progress in their careers

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

In short – no! I’ve always had an interest in tech, but having a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Biotechnology, my background is more in science. The truth is, pure science was a field that was a bit too theoretical and slow progressing for me!

I happened to start my career as a front line insurance writer at Aviva, before embracing my love of tech and moving into core technical roles in Oracle’s Account Management team. I then joined Validity (then Return Path) at an entry level role and worked my way to a leadership position.

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

When I first started working, I used to have a severe phobia of public speaking. In fact, I often felt like I’d rather die than face the stage! Now – public speaking is my comfort zone. I realised I would be restricted in my career if I didn’t try to overcome this fear so I pushed myself to practice and practice. After self-coaching, it now feels like second nature.

I also have no interest in coding, which I thought would restrict me in a tech career. However, I think that’s one of the biggest misconceptions that contributes to the problem of a lack of diversity in tech – you don’t need to code to work in tech. For many technical roles, you just have to be technically minded and learn how to problem solve.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

It has to be starting out in an industry that was so alien to me, not knowing anything about CRM and email, to progress into a leadership position within four years. One of the greatest feelings of achievement is also being able to help members of my team and seeing that they then went on to leadership positions themselves in other companies!

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

I’ve always had a mentor, to understand what the next step is and to know if I’m doing the right things beyond the specific job role I’m in. I’m very lucky to have had amazing mentors.

Building strong connections with people has also been a huge factor in my progression, and it’s unfortunately not given the importance it should have! I’m still in contact with almost everyone I’ve worked with in the past, and I know I can pick up the phone and call them for a chat. Those relationships are some of my greatest assets.

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

Firstly, understand where your own interests lie. Only then can you truly assimilate yourself in what you are trying to achieve, and the more you’re doing what you really enjoy, the more you will succeed.

Whatever role you have in a tech company – whether technical or not – you must build your core product knowledge. Having a deep understanding of your organisation’s core product offering will prove advantageous in every aspect of your day-to-day job.

Finally, I really do recommend finding a mentor to help you develop. Set personal objectives together for you to achieve within a certain timeframe, and make sure you continue with what you’ve learned beyond the mentorship.

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

I still see two key barriers.

Firstly – it’s the perception of tech jobs being heavily specific – for example in terms of coding – and technical. But even a highly technical role doesn’t necessarily require coding. You can just be technically minded in order to help you solve a client problem. When I hire, I’m not looking for individuals with experience in email or have degree in software. I look for people who have attributes to be technically minded. If you know what you might enjoy, you’re not scared of learning, and you’re willing to use what you’ve learned – I will hire you because I see someone with lots of potential that hasn’t been explored yet. I truly believe that if you have the right training and guidance, you can be successful in any role.

Secondly – just getting out there seems to be a big problem for many women. Women do tend to take a step back from public engagements and speaking at events more so than men – though this is definitely improving! I try to coach everyone on my team to get public speaking skills. Put people in safe spaces to begin with, to encourage the skill and interest – it really helps them to grow and be ready when a big opportunity comes. Again, I truly believe that with time and coaching, confident public speaking is something that can be acquired.

Do you think the landscape has changed for women working in technology over the past few years?

When you talk about “women in tech” – already the perception of what that means is changing. It’s not been defined very well and there are so many jobs available in tech that we need to ensure young women aren’t put off by old perceptions.

But thankfully, it’s changing. Over the past couple of years, I’ve been seeing a lot more female candidates – and many roles have seen more female applicants than male applicants! So I’m confident there has been a paradigm shift.

My final message to anyone who’s ever thought about working in tech but is scared because they fear they’re not technical enough – you’ve got a lot more opportunities than just coding! Your skill set can make an impact, so please do apply for those roles if you think you have something to bring to the table.

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