[Women in Tech] Life is like a test match, and it’s essential for women to play the game well, says Srikripa Srinivasan of Dell
As a woman leader with more than 28 years of experience in different domains, Srikripa Srinivasan offers an interesting analogy for women to bring some semblance of balance in their lives.
The Vice President, Performance Analytics Group, Dell Technologies, tells women to look at life as a test match.
“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,” she says.
She believes that 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 needed for women to sustain themselves in the workforce despite diverse challenges in a cricket-crazy country. Srikripa should know – her career has all been about finding new opportunities, navigating challenges and leading from the front.
Playing the game well
She has had an exciting career before moving to Dell. During her CA Articleship, she worked with Price Waterhouse, which became PWCoopers. Consulting and audit assignments were her first exposure to getting the basics right. From PWC, she was sent to Smith Kline Beecham (later Glaxo SmithKline), where she was responsible for accounting and reporting for Horlicks.
“I joined as Pricing Lead for India in a service-first organisation that was growing at a mad pace,” she recalls. From there, she moved to GE, culturally very different from the SKB environment. From GE, she moved to Microsoft to head their compliance and investigations division. Later, as Operations and Finance Lead at EMC CFO, its acquisition by Dell happened, and Srikripa took charge as Head of Global Analytics.
“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 need to find the sources… That’s what my does scale at a product level at Dell,” she explains.
Srikripa admits that the COVID-19 pandemic has not been 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 getting 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.
Retaining women in the workforce
Srikripa says she’s been fortunate for every kind of support – from family and her manager.
She believes women dropping out of their careers is not just restricted to 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.
“The support systems around you are important, you need to figure that, and I've often told women set their support system right and then come back to work. It’s a lot more different now when spouses are 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 is emphatic that women also need to break several myths surrounding what they can and cannot do.
“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 100 other things, so use it wisely. Lastly, always have a vision that you are going to be successful, and nobody can stop you.”
According to Srikripa, the flip side of technological advances is that we have no time “because we are 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.
The cricketing analogy comes to the fore again.
“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,” she says.
Srikripa has accepted that it’s going to be a hybrid environment as we move forward.
“I think we have done well in terms of our hybrid environment, and I am now looking forward to how things are going to bounce back after the pandemic. I'm going to see a lot of women coming back because now we have demonstrated that, you know, even hardcore factory work can be done from home,” she adds.
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