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Developing our future leaders with EmpowerHER

Posted by Alex Heron, 8 months ago

3 min read

With the recent launch of our EmpowerHER programme we sat down with Principal Engineer Srimathy Sundaresan to find out what being a leading woman in tech is like now and where it’s going in the future.

What does a typical work day look like for you?

So, I live in Chennai, which is the southern part of India, here we have a tradition called Rangoli, where we create a pattern in front of our house to decorate it. That's pretty much the first thing that I do, it lets me start my day with a touch of creativity. Then I move on to regular chores like making breakfast, lunch and dropping my daughter off at school before going into the office.

Once I’m at work we usually start with a team scrum to share what we’re going to do today and raise any challenges my team might be having. Typically, my day as a principal engineer is filled with technical discussions as well as understanding the wider bank’s requirements and discussing what solutions would be best suited to each new challenge.

After work I will pick up my daughter and bring her to her dance classes and if I have time I like to sing or listen to classical Indian music, which helps me relax at the end of the day.

What learning and development opportunities are available to you?

I like to spend some time keeping myself up to date with the latest technologies, if not on a daily basis, then at least on a weekly basis. I’m actually a part of OREILLY which is a learning platform I find very useful. It has various ways to learn depending on how busy my day is. I can pick up an eBook and read through it chapter by chapter or I can join a webinar or an online lab session or if I’m very busy I can just open a video and listen to someone talking while working on something else.

I also use the NatWest Academy. I found the Java learning pathway particularly useful. It helped me understand micro services when I was first starting to use them. Having a curated learning pathway is especially helpful as if you were to just google a problem there is an ocean of information out there and often you feel lost. You don’t know which path to pick which not. Whereas with the NatWest Academy there is a clear learning journey laid out for you.

NatWest nurture tech talent, particularly for women?

I joined NatWest through the Reinvest programme which I find is an excellent programme to find female talent and it’s especially good for those who have taken career breaks for various reasons. Joining NatWest was actually my second attempt to return to work after taking a career break to raise my daughter. During my first attempt I always felt as though I had to prove myself every step of the journey which was very stressful. With NatWest it was totally different. More than me, they had confidence that I could add value, which felt like a big burden had been lifted. They also gave me the time and support I needed to learn and grow my skills in my new role.

NatWest also have a range of more technical programmes like the Breakthrough Programme, NASCOM, W2RT, Gender Development Programme which give really technical insight and training in everything from artificial intelligence, cloud computing, big data analysis and other things of that nature. So there really is a wide range of support built in for women.

What can you tell us about the EmpowerHER Programme?

The EmpowerHER Programme is a great opportunity for aspiring leaders to develop their career path by getting mentoring opportunities from the best leaders in the bank. As a leader I’m really looking forward to taking part in this journey. I really want to shape up my decision-making skills and leadership skills so that when I work with my team or with any part of the bank, I bring in the right value in terms of decisions, in terms of finding solutions or developing innovation so that I can make the best decisions for the team going forward.

What are some ways in which you think we can encourage more women into tech roles?

Across the tech industry I feel there are three areas we could improve upon to get more women into tech roles:

  1. Organisations should provide more opportunities for networking so women can find like-minded individuals to form a more robust community.
  2. We should give a voice to inspiring female leaders in the tech space to emphasise that success is possible as a woman in this industry.
  3. There should be wider access to learning platforms and tools to encourage skills development, not just in technical areas but also in effective leadership, customer engagement and all of the other skills an effective leader requires.

One thing that I really want to tell the woman out there is that there is no ready-made formula for success. You just need to believe in yourself and look at the strengths that you have. After two career breaks, I wasn’t sure if I could do it. But one day I just had this thought that said, “Yes I can do it!” And with the kind and supportive environment NatWest provided I was able to reach my goals.

If you’re looking to change up your tech career why not have a look at our Technology jobs.

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