Navigating Challenges: Building a Career and Overcoming Adversity | WWCode Member Journey Part 2 

Navigating Challenges: Building a Career and Overcoming Adversity | WWCode Member Journey Part 2 

Written by Kirthikka Devi Venkataram

DEI ObservancesMember Reflections

For Women’s History Month, we asked our members to reflect on their journeys as women in tech. In part two of her experience, Kirthikka Devi Venkataram, Lead Women Who Code Data Science community, delves into her personal experience and explores the setbacks and challenges she encountered and her resilience in overcoming them. Finally, she highlights their involvement in the Women Who Code community and dedication to empowering tech women.

Read Part 1 of Kirthikka’s journey here.

Several failures in my personal life were handled with minimal support. Bringing me back was like confronting bravery, deemed a complex puzzle for me, especially coming from an authentic conservative family. The only warmth was my parents’ and friends’ prayers, which drove my perseverance and positivity, riding with the competitive edge and boosting my confidence and growth. One such opportunity opened up for me to enter the telecommunications industry. 

“Life allows you to hold on to opportunities regardless of experience and exposure. Grab it, or else you lose it!” This holds good for any situation.

I was offered the opportunity to enter the telecommunications industry, simultaneously calling for a position to become a professor with a Ph.D. from a leading world-class university in India. This decision was the greatest turning point in my life. It took me completely into the corporate world, leaving my dreams of achieving a PhD back. I decided to leave and earn a Ph.D. instead and became competent in adapting to the corporate race. My hobbyist knowledge of open source technologies helped me achieve the project’s SLA in eight months, arriving new to the organization with no history of this line of work. I managed the stakeholders working in a cross-functional team. I became the client communication lead, contributing to developing, bundling, and testing the protocol stack while working in different time zones with the co-located teams from offshore. Before I handed over the service deliverables to the clients, I was asked to lead a prospects tour across the organization and to the premium clients, directing the prospects program for the Business Unit. This also opened up an opportunity to deliver a short presentation to the organization’s CEO. I managed to back it up with attractive presentations, introspecting my speech as a hilt. 

Being a goal-centric person is a boon, but the silhouette it creates is puritanical. This was the time I revealed myself to organize and manage experienced professionals, which honed my leadership skills. Bringing success to the prospects tour and earning new business opportunities still reverberates in my memory. Suppose I take one opportunity to show my gratitude for my career journey. In that case, I wholeheartedly show my gratitude for assigning such complex leadership-cultivating tasks, showing confidence in me. 

My career journey crossed multiple domains, entering the automotive domain and performing diverse tasks gathering system knowledge. To mention a few, I worked on redesigning the vehicle communication stack, enabling the diagnostic product to enter diverse markets. Worked on the first generation of the SB Limotive project in Stuttgart. Irrespective of the project’s complexity, I realized the working modules in the absence of my German counterpart, who spent his time on vacation. This period was tiring and interesting. In retrospect, during this experience, I worked in a challenging, highly competitive environment with the latest automotive technologies. Led teams to provide technical inputs, realized working prototypes on many safety-critical software development projects, and managed software components. The industry was highly male-dominated, where male decision-makers selected female achievers. Earning a place and projecting your success was like standing at the tip of the iceberg. 

Strong Optimism Traversing Hurdles

Struggle in life and success in work are bad combinations. Encountering it many times in my life, I am always determined to see women’s need to empower themselves. Failing life should not hinder the rest of your life or your dependence. This bundled my life to select the best of the available choices. This slowly changed to creating my own choices and becoming a master of my life. A forceful, though refreshing career break to energize my journey as a mid-career navigator, here I am, building myself to adapt to the competitive edge. 

Being introspective, my zeal towards technology brought new ideas into the work environment, elevated my critical thinking skills, and nurtured me by influencing without authority, signifying my growth. Selecting and connecting the right dots with the right choices improved my probability of reaching goals in my career. The moments of learning start from the moments of attaining psychological safety (this is from the famous Maslow’s Theory of Motivation). Salvaging from distress, building resilience, pushing myself to regain myself, and focusing on my growth was always achievable to me, putting myself in an infinite loop of the growth model. This is a self-developed growth model that always encourages me to achieve high, even during times of adversity.

As I reflect on my journey, I’m reminded of the power of resilience, practicing mindfulness, and the importance of seizing the right opportunity that comes my way, practicing the infinite loop growth model. My association with the Women Who Code community has been instrumental in my growth, providing support and encouragement along the way. Looking ahead, I’m excited about the future of tech and the possibilities it holds. With a mindset focused on leading and innovating, I’m here to embark on the next chapter of my journey, empowered to make a meaningful impact and work towards #inspireinclusion in the fast-paced world of technology.

Learn more about Kirthikka and connect via LinkedIn.