Women in technology, especially in senior leadership positions, still remain a rare breed. This is why it is important to celebrate the successes of women like Sejal Chokshi Piertzak, who ranks among the top SaaS CEOs in the world.
Sejal is the Global President and CEO of DealerSocket, a US based SaaS company focused on the automotive segment.
She was ranked seventh among the Top 50 SaaS CEOs by The Software Report, one among very few women who have made it to the list.
Appointed as CEO of the company two-and-half-years ago, Sejal attributes her achievement to confidence, persistence, and hard work. She is also a strong advocate for diversity and inclusiveness, especially in the corporate world.
Born to immigrant parents from India, Sejal was raised in Michigan and New Jersey. She received her degree in international studies from William & Mary University, and an MBA from Wharton School of Business. In her extensive career, she has worked with leading global corporations like Boston Consulting Group and Wells Fargo besides US-India Business Council, a part of the US Chamber of Commerce and ACTIVE Network.
Despite not possessing any formal degree or education in technology, Sejal was always fascinated by how it can be leveraged to make lives easier.
Tips to succeed
In a conversation with HerStory on her career trajectory, especially as a role model for women who are keen to make a mark in technology, Sejal says, “Have confidence, believe in your capabilities and put it a lot of hard work. It will certainly pay off.”
She also emphasises that it is important for women to also be persistent with the ability to lean in. “If you are interested in a role then go for it. Have the confidence to take that leap as there are a lot of great opportunities,” she adds.
Sejal exemplifies this philosophy fully. Her career has traversed various roles including consulting, building organisations, and creating networks. For example, during her tenure at the US Chamber of Commerce she was instrumental in bringing a number of business delegations from America looking at investment opportunities in India.
As a woman leader with hands-on experience in corporate America, Sejal is also a strong advocate of diversity and inclusiveness.
“It is important for companies to think of diversity and inclusiveness. When different views come together there is richer employee experience and better technology. I would highly encourage women to bring that diverse kind of experience and also speak up.”
To put her words into action, Sejal will also be taking definite action at DealerSocket with a launch of a specific programme to improve gender diversity.
“This year we are launching women at DealerSocket global programme. This will be an opportunity for women to be mentored by other women leaders and make that connect,” says Sejal.
It will also facilitate interactions where women can learn different aspects of business both from a technology and non-technology point of view. “These are kind of things that companies need to do and we want to be inclusive as much as possible,” says Sejal.
Sejal also initiated a similar programme as the chief administrative officer at ACTIVE Network, where she worked before she joined DealerSocket.
Asked about the gender inclusivity and diversity in corporate America, Sejal says, “Things are getting better every day.”
At the same time, she also has a piece of advice to women who are often disillusioned when they face obstacles in their career. “Believe in yourself even while you have to keep learning. If you face obstacles, keep pushing thorough and keep moving forward.”
As the head of DealerSocket, Sejal has also lined up plans for the company’s expansion that also include setting up of a centre of excellence (CoE) in Bengaluru. The CoE currently has around 35 technologists and plans are to scale this up to 200 over the next year.
DealerSocket is a 19-year-old company with over 1,000 employees and provides a full suite of software solutions with a primary focus on automobile dealerships. As the CEO says, “One is every three cars sold in the US has the touch of DealerSocket software.”
Sejal is also visibly excited about the talent pool in India. “The talent here has the education, curiosity and excitement regarding innovation.”
The India centre will work on key technology areas of DealerSocket in close coordination with its US headquarters. It is also a sort of homecoming for Sejal as at her earlier role in US-India Business Council, she regularly visited India along with the various business delegations from America.
Leadership is her forte as she steers DealerSocket on the path towards expansion and growth. “Leadership is all about listening, having integrity, being communicative, and transparent,” she signs off.
(Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan)