Ritu MohankaRitu is the leader of Glint’s business development and strategic growth in EMEA. She joined Glint from IBM Kenexa after fifteen years in senior leadership positions.

At IBM, she worked with some of the world’s most recognizable organizations to drive rapid revenue growth across the EMEA region. Throughout her career, she has been widely recognized for having peerless CXO relationship skills and an ability to source, partner, win and flawlessly execute complex technology solutions mandates from the largest global organizations. She’s personally led many key projects across a wide range of sectors from Financial Services to Pharma, Industrials and Retail, linking results to overall strategic business goals to drive performance.

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

I work at employee engagement leader Glint, where I head up business development across EMEA. Now based in London, I’m originally from Kolkata, India, though I’ve worked and lived all over Europe, including in Paris, Munich and Vienna.

Most of my career has been in senior leadership positions, leading teams in companies such as Kenexa (now part of IBM) and now Glint, sourcing and executing enterprise level technology solutions in a myriad of sectors for the largest global organisations. Glint’s solutions successfully connect employee engagement results to overall strategic business goals to unleash performance improvements.

The world of employee engagement is an exciting one, especially right now: it’s such a critical time for organisations to be reaching out to their people, both in the midst of lockdown and on the road to recovery. In the midst of such instability, it’s absolutely key that people feel heard and involved. Listening to your employees gives leaders insight into what people need most during times of stress and rapid change, to help them be happier and more successful.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?  

The honest answer would have to be ‘no’. I originally wanted to work in advertising or executive recruitment. I hadn’t even thought about the technology sector in my early days because the world and the sector was so very different and much lower profile than the highly visible complex and dynamic ecosystems that thrive today. But when I took the career opportunity offered, I discovered how much I actually enjoyed working at the juncture of business, People Science and technology. Fortunately, I discovered that I was actually quite good at it and became fascinated by both the technology and behavioural science aspects. So it proved a very happy accident.

Actually, there was one part of my career that I did plan carefully—when to have my family. I didn’t want to start having children until I had reached a certain career level, and where my value to the organisation was proven. It would have been great if I hadn’t felt I needed to do that, but personally, I think it was the right choice for me. Joining Glint was also a very intentional decision. I researched the firm carefully, but ultimately, the decision came down to the leadership team and what a mission- and values-driven organisation it is. The fact that Glint’s values aligned to my own values, in putting people at the heart of what we do, was very important to me.

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

As an Indian woman raised in a hyper-traditional setting, I’ve experienced many barriers to entry over the course of my working career, particularly in my early years building a professional pathway. Earlier on in my career my biggest challenge was not really knowing what I was actually skilled at and what I was best leaving to others with different talents. For example, I was never going to be the Advertising Creative Director I once dreamed of becoming!

I also struggled with recognising that asking for other people’s help could be a huge benefit in helping me understand my strengths, where my career should be headed and how to get there. Mentorship is often talked about but not always sought out. It’s incredibly important, however, especially at the early stages of a career, particularly for young women, and even more for young women of colour, who face specific challenges. I was lucky to be helped at many points by some amazing people who knew what great leadership was.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Recognition is a powerful motivator and makes all your hard work worthwhile. I know it does for me. I think of when I was recognised by peers and the leadership team at Kenexa (now IBM) and winning its ‘Most Valuable Person’ (MVP) award. Also being recognised several times in the FT and other leadership awards/Lists has been rewarding to me, too.

I was delighted to recently make it on to the EMpower Executive Role Model 2020 list (it’s actually the second time I have been included, I am honoured to say). It acknowledges professional achievements of the workplace BAME community, and it’s something I am very proud of being part of. EMpower is seeking to break down barriers for minorities, and I believe our work at Glint is also contributing to that mission.

In terms of work accomplishments, there are quite a few that I am proud of. A standout for me, rather than a single global deal as such, is probably taking on the acquisition of a German business, and in 18 months leading it to become a fully-fledged Central and Eastern European organisation, growing revenue by 400%.

I do have to say that for me, career and personal achievements are intertwined. In my personal life I am pleased and proud that I got lucky in marrying the right guy, that I have brought up two wonderful boys, and that I am always there when my parents and family have needed me.

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

There is no single thing that makes you successful, sorry! Some of it is down to luck, and a lot of it is down to hard work; but without help it’s really hard to succeed. I was lucky that my parents inculcated in me a massive drive to achieve from an early age and were hugely supportive of me. Despite coming from a very traditional Indian family setting where girls were not expected to work, my parents pushed against the cultural norms to give me those career opportunities and a great education.

And relatedly, having a really good support system in place is hugely important. I was always supported by an unbelievable set of parents.

And once I got married, my husband and my children have been my rock. My family believes in me and having such a great support system means that I can do what I do and why I am where I am today.

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

1) work hard but also work smart — nobody needs a burnout 2) if you are unsure, seek advice, weigh it up and use it well 3) ask for help when you need it, and 4) keep adding to your skills; you can’t be a one trick pony in leadership positions, especially in the fast-moving world of technology.

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

The reality is that in some organisations there are barriers, whether subconscious or not. However, thankfully there are now many open-minded people in leadership positions who believe in equality and understand that long-term business performance is founded on diversity in every form. We are increasingly acknowledging that differences in experience, background, and thought are the wellspring of new ideas and innovation and the bedrock of good decision making. So let’s all say goodbye to tunnel vision and groupthink!

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

Raising awareness is an important step, but it is just a first one. Training existing managers will only go so far as it’s changing behaviours and taking actions that will ultimately make the difference. Organisations have to recognise that most women are not ‘alphas’ and don’t necessarily operate in that way – but they can still perform and outperform their male counterparts. So existing processes and systems of support and evaluation have to evolve to start taking that more into account, so that women feel more comfortable being themselves at work. It’s only when people feel fully accepted for being their unique selves at work that they can be happy, highly productive and perform their best work.

By providing frontline managers with insightful data, tailored guidance, and curated learning resources, you can actually equip more leaders to build inclusive practices into their team’s day-to-day experiences and create a nurturing workplace. In particular, that means creating a space for conversations that might be uncomfortable but are needed, as they will promote active listening, shared understanding and connection.

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?

I am deeply committed to removing barriers to women in technology. I am however not in favour of encouraging positive bias or discrimination in hiring and promoting decisions. It’s far easier for management to create new jobs or promote individuals than to actually overhaul a culture, but that’s what’s required to help cement real changes in the workplace, and indeed more broadly across all our lives.

I would use my magic wand to make a fair and inclusive meritocracy a reality, adopting a strategy that supports valuing people on ability and potential.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Knowledge builds self-confidence in your own abilities and increases your chances of succeeding. So it’s important that we keep learning and that we find the best learning medium for ourselves. Especially as now we have so many more options available, which are so easy to access. LinkedIn Learning has some brilliant resources to help here.

For managers, creating a nurturing and inclusive workplace culture remains your priority. LinkedIn Learning has some resources to help there, too.

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