[Techie Tuesday] In a career spanning 28 years, why Srikripa Srinivasan believes it’s essential to play the game well
Before moving into her current role as VP-Performance Analytics at Dell Technologies, Srikripa Srinivasan worked in different domains and for multi-national companies like PWCoopers, Glaxo Smithkline, GE, Microsoft, and EMC CFO.
Both a chartered and cost accountant, Srikripa was raised by working parents – her father worked in a steel plant while her mother was a teacher. Her father’s job took them all over the country, and moving around often meant she learnt new languages, cultures and collected friends wherever she went. This, she says, provided the perfect grounding to work hard and be a team player.
From auditing basics, accounting and reporting, operations and finance, compliance and investigations, she slipped into an analytics role when Dell acquired EGMC CFO.
She explains: “The Dell Global Analytics team is at the centre of advanced analytics and data science as far as the whole company is concerned. Look at it this way. You have a pain point you want to resolve, but there is just a lot of information, and you need to make intelligence out of that information. Or you don’t have the information and the need to find the sources… That’s what my job does – scale at a product level at Dell.”
“There is a lot of data that needs to be mined, cleaned, and then analysed. You need to give it in a format that people understand. That’s what my team does,” she adds. Srikripa is also involved in modelling optimising acquisition and retention efforts, voluntary and involuntary churn, propensity modelling, product/revenue forecasting, profitability segmentation, lifetime value, statistical methods, and more.
As a woman leader with more than 28 years of experience in different domains, Srikripa says she’s still bothered that it’s difficult for women to sustain themselves in the tech workforce.
Speaking for herself, she believes that without the support of her family or managers who did not mollycoddle her, she wouldn’t have reached this far.
“When it comes to women in technology, the issue is that women drop out for various reasons in the whole pyramid. They find the work hours difficult, get married, have children, and don’t know how to deal with the changes. Their body cycles may change at some point in time, and they might have to drop off. I have been informed that women drop out because they are boggled by the amount of work they have to do,” she says.
Balance it out
Srikripa urges to look at this problem by offering a cricketing analogy. In a cricket-crazy country, she believes this may just be the way to bring some semblance of balance in our lives.
She explains, “Every day is not a T20 or a one-day match. I want to tell all the women out there to think differently – play life and career like a test match. A test match plays out for five days where you will have chances to be on your front foot to go for a six or a four. When you see the ball coming in, just bang it out. But you to need to bat it out.”
Srikripa gets to the root of the problem and elaborates further, “Women often think their careers can be shot quickly, so they want to hit a six or a boundary or get someone out every day. There will be new roles, constantly changing environments, difficult decisions, but women need to understand where to play for the game or be on the front foot. It’s important to last the entire test and play the game well,” she adds.
This analogy may just be the wake-up call women need to sustain themselves in the workforce despite diverse challenges.
While trying to achieve the proverbial work-life balance, women have also had to grapple with the challenges of working during the pandemic. It was not an easy time, but the team rallied together to make it work.
“Initially, we aimed to get people comfortable with technology and devices requirements. We were then worried about Zoom fatigue – smiling at the screen all day and the pressure. We then began telling people that they didn’t have to have the cameras on all the time. We started having some lighter moments “celebration” sessions and had an Antakshari session recently,” she says.
Take all the support you can get
Srikripa says “support from every quarter” has been the defining point in her life. And women must grab all the support they get to move ahead in life and their careers.
“The support systems around you are important, you need to figure that, and I've often told women to set their support system right and then come back to work. It’s a lot more different now with spouses pitching in. I think it's important for a woman to figure out and take and ask for help. If you can get a cook, do it. If you can get Swiggy to deliver, do it. If you can get someone to clean your house, please do it. All kinds of support are important for you to be able to deliver so that you last the entire five-day test,” she adds.
She believes women dropping out of their careers is not restricted to the areas of STEM or tech.
“It’s an issue across the board. At some point in time, they get married, they have children, there are multiple reasons women drop out at different time zones,” she says.
To move ahead, women also need to constantly break stereotypes and bust the myths around them that tell what they can and cannot do.
She emphasises, “Break the myth that something is difficult and you won’t take it up. There are several resources available for you to learn and grow. Also, I don’t think women have issues networking. The pandemic has allowed more one-on-one time without the distraction of a hundred other things, so use it wisely. Lastly, always have a vision you are going to be successful, and nobody can stop you.”
While technology may be our friend and partner, according to Srikripa, the flip side is that “ they can be contactable all the time”.
“I think we must consciously switch off the phone at some point of time in the night and not look at it until morning,” she says. She feels this will reduce burnout and bring some sense of balance into our lives.
She signs off the conversation by highlighting another cricketing analogy.
“Look at it like a test match. If you want to have a career and a life, balance it out saying these are my work hours, these are the weeks I need to play a T20, and on others, I might have to look at it as a one-day match, and there are some weeks where I have to play it like a test match – be with my children and the rest of my family.”