Inspirational Woman: Priya Bajoria | Senior Vice President, Financial Services & Digital Transformation Leader, Publicis Sapient

Priya Bajoria HeadshotPriya Bajoria was recently announced as Publicis Sapient’s Senior Vice President, Financial Services & Digital Transformation Leader.

With vast experience in industry transformation utilizing digital technologies and innovation, Priya has a unique background in both consulting and investment banking; she previously led Infosys’ North American capital markets business and was an Investment Banker with Merrill Lynch. She will bring the best of PS’s digital business transformation capabilities to Financial Services clients to help them become digitally enabled to better serve their end-customers. Priya has a strong PoV on the key technologies that would best drive digital transformation globally and as a champion of workplace diversity and sponsor/mentor of many women’s leadership networks, she can passionately talk about the important participation of women in the financial sector.

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

I recently joined Publicis Sapient (PS) as a Senior Vice President in Financial Services (FS), to partner with clients to transform their businesses utilizing digital technologies, and create a differentiated experience for their employees and customers. The FS industry has evolved into a multi-dimensional ecosystem and our clients need a partner with both best-in-class digital capabilities and also deep industry domain knowledge. We are that ‘connective tissue’ that can help firms reimagine their businesses of the future.

Prior to joining PS, I led Infosys’ capital markets practice in North America, where I worked for 19 years and was an investment banker with Merrill Lynch in Asia before that. I have an MBA degree in Finance and a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from leading universities in India and have also completed the Global Leadership Program and the Ignite Program on Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Stanford's Graduate School of Business. I volunteer my time to advance STEM education for middle/ high school students and am also a mentor/ sponsor of women’s leadership networks in financial services and technology industries.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career? 

When I was a student in India, STEM subjects were mandatory and were as integral to my early education as geography, history and languages. There was something structured and analytical yet creative about coding in particular that inspired me to earn a Bachelor’s in Computer Science. I followed that up with an MBA in Finance and got a job as an investment banker. A few years later, with the IT sector booming in India, I joined the technology industry as a consultant in financial services that helped leverage both my degrees and work experience.

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

One of the constants in the technology industry is change; as a result, the willingness to learn and adapt quickly to emerging innovations is essential for any professional in this industry. I have always enjoyed learning new skills, keeping my knowledge base current and finding assignments where I can apply the newly acquired capabilities. While there is no substitute for hard work towards becoming the best at what you do, finding great coaches/ mentors along the way also helped me alleviate the stress of navigating career challenges.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

It is extremely gratifying when you can truly collaborate with a client to find the right problem to solve and leverage the best of what your organization has to offer, to successfully implement a best-in-class technology solution within budget and on time. The trusted relationships that emerge as the result of successfully overcoming a challenge together is what makes it all the more memorable. One such instance was when my team and I were able to consolidate our firm’s position at a client as the preferred strategic partner by displacing competition and structuring innovative deals to deliver measurable business outcomes.

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

My sister and I have been lucky to be born to parents who have always encouraged us to work hard and make the most of what life has to offer. No field of study or career was out of bounds just because we were girls. They gave unconditional support as we made life choices and still continue to lead us by example.

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

The key to surviving as a technology professional is the willingness to learn and adapt quickly to emerging innovations. Developers have to keep the end-user in mind in everything they do. Technologists who can help their clients find business use-cases for next generation technologies and derive value-added insights from data, automate legacy systems and create a differentiated experience for consumers, will certainly excel.

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

There is a wave of change in the industry including higher awareness regarding diversity and inclusion. PS is committed to this cause and in the past few weeks alone, hired three women, including myself, in different leadership positions. We have to celebrate these successes, inspire ourselves and motivate those around us about the possible career choices available, so we can continue to break more glass ceilings, some of which may just be in our minds, while others may be real.

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

  • Create an active network of trusted mentors to guide women employees through different phases in their career
  • Encourage use of technology to make work-life integration easier and provide flexible ways of working
  • Build a path to bring women back to work if they had chosen to take a break in their careers along the way

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? 

Making education easily accessible for as many people, regardless of age, gender, race or religion. One effective way this could happen is if we had more teachers in the world. Those of us, who have had the privilege of a good education should volunteer to teach at least one topic that we know and are passionate about. “Each One Teach at least One”. Being an active mentor can significantly help in advancing careers of women in technology.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech? 

  • Become a member of the Business Resource Group supporting women in your organization. For example, within PS, we have the Women’s Leadership Network (WLN) and at the Publicis Groupe level, there is Viva Women, both of which are very active in employee engagement
  • Find a local Women in Technology group or any industry meet-up that can help you stay connected with the current and emerging trends / developments
  • Join an online or classroom course with a reputed agency to help learn a new technology or skill, the social networking opportunity in this class can be very helpful in your career as well
  • Attend an annual conference like Anita Borg Institute’s annual Grace Hopper Conference to meet like-minded women and get the periodic shot of inspiration