Rupa RughaniI am a HR graduate having previously worked across different industries, ranging from data to fashion, research to tech.

For the past three years I have been working for Solidatus, the leader in the metadata management space. My role there is to deliver training and support to all clients using our solution – from developing processes and building out the support department, to managing relationships both internally and externally. I am also part of a few women in tech mentoring programmes.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Yes I did, but it looked very different to where I am now. For a year at university I studied Business Information Systems, but unfortunately I switched as that particular course was very male dominated and, to be honest, I always felt rather intimidated by that. The men who were on my course would often write things next to my name on the attendance register like ‘nice dress’ or ‘didn’t know girls liked computers’, which you can imagine did not help to build my confidence. Eventually, I graduated in HR with my first role being within a tech company. After working in a few different industries, I decided to come back to tech.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these? Yes I faced many challenges throughout my career, there are many ways which I overcame this…

Absolutely, I think you would be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t faced any challenges in their career – especially women. For myself – its also due to my ethnicity as well as being a woman. I have often found in previous roles that I was not taken seriously by senior members, in the sense that, if I shared an idea, I was not listened to. However, the very same idea would be propositioned by a white male and it was immediately taken forward. I was also often made to feel that I was not good enough to progress in my career. Due to this, I’ve always tried my best to stay positive and tell myself to never give up. Ensuring I am always learning has been an important part of overcoming these challenges too, which sometimes means asking for feedback and positive criticism.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I have several notable accomplishments in my career. The one I am probably most proud of was when I was handpicked from 150 people to drive culture change through strategic practices. This was a 6 month project. My ideas were carried forward by the Operations Director and I received an award for it. This was a pretty proud moment for me professionally.

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

Keeping a positive mindset is definitely up there. I would also have to say that believing in myself has been fundamental. As a woman, I think that sometimes you have to have complete faith in yourself, because others may not. Believing in myself has pushed me forward and enabled me to achieve so much. I’ve also had to learn to not take things too personally, to learn from the criticism, and to keep up-to-date with my learning and development.

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

Networking is essential. It’s so important to get out there and form connections with people in the industry, to learn from them and draw on their expertise. I would also recommend finding a mentor, like I did, who can help you navigate your way through the industry, build your confidence and develop your skills.

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

Yes I do. I think we need to be doing all we can to recruit more women into junior roles if they don’t have the experience. We need to be encouraging their growth by listening to them, and supporting their development throughout their careers – throughout the whole career ladder, not just early on.

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

I truly believe one of the easiest and most effective things they can do is to take the time to really understand women, as we are often quite different to men and work differently. I think it’s also incredibly important that companies ensure they are championing women in tech in public as well as the confines of their own office. It’s also important companies understand women’s responsibilities outside of work, such as being their child’s primary care giver or being the carer for a family member. Make sure women are listened to as much as the men and are treated as equals in all areas.

There is currently only 17 per cent 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 guess it starts from the beginning, doesn’t it? We need to be encouraging young girls in school to consider a career in tech. Show them it’s fun, creative and rewarding. Help them find the right university, the right course and eventually nurture them into the right company and role. If we can find a way to tap into a girl’s mindset from an early age, and change this perception that tech roles are for boys, we can transform this entire industry.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Podcasts are great – TED Talks are  my favourite. Make sure you learn as much from your colleagues as possible; they will help you upskill from their own experience. Find a mentoring programme that works for you, and make sure you attend as many networking events and conferences as possible. There are so many out there, and I know they have made the world of difference in my career.

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