Abhi Thatte featured

Inspirational Woman: Abhi Thatte | Engineering Manager, ENSEK

Abhi Thatte

I am Abhiruchi Thatte Carrino also known as Abhi. Born and raised in India, I started my career in technology 14 years ago after I completed my degree in Electronics & Instrumentation. I am currently working at ENSEK as their first female Engineering Manager.

Growing up I took part in and won singing competitions, and I also have two degrees in music (classical & light music). I had to make a choice whether I would continue to pursue singing professionally but decided to go to university, graduating in 2007 just in time for the recession. After uprooting myself and travelling to the other side of India in search of jobs, I eventually started as a software developer but very quickly discovered my passion for software testing.

As I’ve transitioned into leadership roles, I have been an advocate for adopting agile best practises and have worked to build positive and high performing teams. In my current role I champion my very talented team, empowering them and creating opportunities to explore where they want to take their career.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I never sat down to plan my career. I had two very different paths to choose from and my parents wanted me to become a musician. It was not an easy decision to go to university, my parents were unsure whether they could afford to send me at all and there was some pressure from them not to go. However, my grandfather supported my decision and encouraged me to become an engineer.

Where I come from, women are still expected to cook and clean and stay at home to look after the family, but I defied all the rules with the support of my family. I am the first women in my whole family to become an engineer and get a job in tech. My brother and cousins have since followed me.

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

I consider moving to the UK the biggest career challenge I’ve faced. I didn’t anticipate how different the work cultures would be: for instance, the expectation to finish work at a set time (and before 6pm!) doesn’t exist in India. The time difference was also unexpectedly difficult, and it effected the relationship with my family.

My career has been turbulent at times with periods of unemployment, which have been demoralising though defining. Graduating into the 2007 recession meant my career was set back by many months. I later had a further year long break in my career following my time in the UK. Despite my successes and experience I was unable to get a job in India and I was turned away being told that I was overqualified. This was a huge knock on my confidence, and I’ve had to slowly climb the ladder and prove myself all over again.

However, it has proved to me that the skills I have are real and that despite huge setbacks, with determination and passion I can achieve my dreams. It has strengthened my belief in being compassionate in the workplace and being the best mentor to my colleagues.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I’m proud to be ENSEK’s first female Engineering Manager. I’m happy to say that in a few months I’ve been able to make a difference to my colleagues and am excited to see what our engineers will achieve in the coming months.

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

Perseverance when things are tough. Organisation when things are good.

My husband tells me this that I am like my 90-year-old grandmother who continues to do everything around the house. She is never tired of doing what she loves, and despite all the challenges I’ve faced I too still love what I do. I am driven and that drive also comes from my family who are always there to support and encourage me. I never give up no matter what and take life as it comes.

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

Be courageous, take risks, learn from those around you, keep working on yourself and always have a goal in mind. Support and promote others, no one can tell you what you can and can’t do. Approach problems and issues as opportunities and it will be easier to solve them. Don’t ever give up.

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

I think we need to be clear on what working in tech means. Most of the time, it is perceived as a hard career choice and that there’s no work life balance. Working in tech doesn’t just mean sitting at a desk writing code. There are so many paths one can take, and we need collaborative, creative people to foster environments in which truly innovative products can take shape.

Educating women as early as possible in their career will help with opening the door for opportunities which are otherwise overlooked.

I have personally faced negativity for being a woman who’s strong and in a leadership position and I think this is another barrier which deters women from seeking a career in tech. We need to create a healthy and friendly environment where honest feedback can be given and received. We also need to encourage and support each other as women.

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

I am currently leading the recruitment at ENSEK for the Engineering department. We are rewriting our job descriptions to balance the tone and to emphasise the opportunities we provide to grow regardless of who you are.

Internally we focus on everyone having equal opportunities. The key is to enable everyone to have access to those opportunities and to explore where they want to take their career. A supportive environment that understands each career is different.

There is currently only 15% 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 would demonstrate the creative opportunities that a career in tech offers at an early age by encouraging children to explore creating apps. I would also emphasise that the skills required can be picked up at any age and that entry into the profession is not insurmountable given the right support and access to tools and learning materials.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

There’s a lot of material available to us these days. My suggestions would be to attend local Meet ups, read books such as Crucial Conversations, Radical Candor, listen to Ted Talks (there are videos specifically on the topic on their website) and listen to podcasts. I will also recommend watching creative shows on which are available across many streaming platforms.