Women are an indispensable and ever-growing part of the tech landscape, says Twitter India’s Kusumita Dasgupta
Kusumita Dasgupta, Senior Engineering Manager at Twitter India, is very clear of living her life seamlessly – “to keep that balance, I make sure that I disengage completely from one sphere when I am attending to responsibilities in the other one”.
Growing up in a Bengali family in Kolkata, Kusumita was encouraged to learn and participate in cultural activities and performing arts such as playing the sitar, and various dance forms such as Bharatnatyam, Kathak, and folk dance and dramatics.
Yet, she was clear and focused on what she wanted to do in her career. A self-proclaimed “technologist at heart”, she had a passion for science and technology since her school days.
“I always believed that science and technology play a very important role in addressing human challenges, thereby contributing to a better world,” she tells HerStory.
During her time, there were not many girls who took up a career in science, but she believes that things have moved forward and are more progressive now.
In this interview, she talks about how the pandemic impacted her work-life scenario, DevelopHER initiative by Twitter for young women engineers, things she would like to change in the engineering space for women, and much more.
Edited excerpts from the interview:
HerStory (HS): During the pandemic, everyone was restrained in their homes and fell back to working from home. Several studies have shown how this scenario increased women's unpaid labor work even when they had a job. How did you process this time and what are your thoughts on working from office v/s working from home?
Kusumita Dasgupta (KD): The pandemic has transformed our lives. With kids at home, all working parents have faced real challenges like managing work meetings, online classes for kids, as well as keeping the kids entertained and engaged.
Twitter emphasises on decentralisation and supports a distributed workforce capable of working from anywhere. Looking back, I realise things were pretty hard, but with organisations like Twitter enabling employees to work from home helped me and many like me to cherish the quality time I spent with my family for bonding, which further boosted our high productivity at work.
Going forward, I believe a hybrid or flexible model will shape the future of workplace culture. At the core of this transition will be empathy and agility that will encourage the employees to strike the right balance between spending time in office with colleagues, thereby improving team engagement, as well as working remotely to get more “me time” with family.
HS: Tell us about the DevelopHer initiative and what were your key learnings from the programme?
KD: As part of the "Campus Branding" and "Inclusion & Diversity" initiatives by Twitter India Recruitment Team, every year we organise a two-day camp called “DevelopHer” for first and second year women engineering students in India. It is an immersive experience where students can participate in team coding challenges, technical workshops, mentorship sessions, professional development seminars, networking sessions, hear from leaders about I&D initiatives at Twitter, engage with our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), and explore career opportunities at Twitter.
We’re on a journey to become the world’s most inclusive, diverse, equitable, and accessible tech company — it’s key to serving the public conversation and the DevelopHer initiative is key to this vision.
HS: How does Twitter ensure women employees are given equal opportunities at all stages?
KD: In 2020, Twitter announced bold new goals for 2025. At least half of our global Tweepforce will be women.
Twitter creates an environment that constantly empowers women employees to share and leverage their unique perspectives and experiences for growth and opportunities. It focuses on applying an equity lens across all moments that matter, including recruitment, onboarding, compensation and pay transparency, learning and development, and ensuring we’re cultivating a truly inclusive environment across teams and regional geographies. We’ve made steady progress, but our work doesn’t end #UntilWeAllBelong.
HS: If you have to change one thing in the engineering space for women, what would it be and why?
KD: Let’s start by acknowledging that women are an indispensable and ever-growing part of the tech landscape. The time is ripe to reimagine and redefine the role of women in tech and creating opportunities for women begin with education followed by organisations creating an environment that encourages inclusivity and diversity, importantly committed to gender equity in the workplace.
Till date, many families view engineering as “not a girl’s job”, and thereby many families end up not encouraging their girl child to pursue high tech careers. If I were to change one thing - I would reach out to every household in the country and inspire the parents to dream high for both their sons and daughters, and provide them with equal support to choose the career they wish to take.
HS: What is that one message you would give to your past vulnerable self (do share how old you were back then) who didn't have enough faith that you can make it this far as an engineer?
KD: During my early 20’s, when I started off as an engineer, I assumed that life is very predictable, and you can really plan for it. But soon, I realised that in reality, life is dynamic and its course changes with every moment. Initially, when things didn't work out the way I had planned, I used to feel very upset. But over time, I changed myself to be very flexible - hold a high level vision/goal, but at the same time be open to changes as the situation demands. And now when I look back at my career, I think I would not have enjoyed this journey as much if I would not have made myself open to experimentations, learning from bad times, and moving on. As the proverb goes - “The journey is important, not the destination”
HS: What are the top three accomplishments in your career?
KD: Overall, I believe every step in my career was intrinsic to my growth, as every situation has given me an opportunity to learn something new. But, if I need to short list three of them, they are:
I got an opportunity to lead the complete tech modernisation journey of one of the most critical financial applications owned by a tech leader in that space. I formed a team of 30 from scratch, led the design for decomposing the huge monolith into a microservice architecture, and saved millions with respect to infrastructure costs.
Cloud migration has become the norm for all tech giants today. I have led the central team for cloud migration of one of the flagship products for one such tech giant. I designed the complete norm and steps for the migration of applications, thereby enabling all teams in the ecosystem to have a smooth journey during the transition while adhering to strict timelines, thereby saving dollars.
Twitter’s engineering team in Bengaluru is growing, and over the last two years, we have grown exponentially. I joined Twitter in 2020, and as a leader in the region, I got a massive opportunity to also work on strategic initiatives and branding efforts for Twitter. This hugely enriched my personal growth.
Edited by Megha Reddy