[Women in Tech] Bahwan CyberTek VP makes the case for flexible models and inclusive workspaces
Growing up in Thiruvananthapuram as a child amongst a community of first-generation scientists in ISRO, Bhuvaneswari Veerasamy recalls that a heightened focus on academics and science was a given.
“I was blessed with parents for whom my education and career were always a priority - not just to be independent but to maximise my potential. The hunger to try new things, explore and go beyond the extra mile was a habit cultivated much early on,” she says.
Bhuvaneswari is TIBCO Delivery Head at Bahwan CyberTek. Passionate about data-driven processes, she has more than 20 years of experience in Delivery & Change Management, Operations Planning & Management, Business Consulting, Programme/Portfolio Management and Project Delivery in both IT and non-IT industries.
Adept at customer-focused engagements or organisational excellence programmes, she has worked with global corporations, government entities, and SMEs in the Far East, Middle East, and Rest of Asia on programmes spanning multiple geographies.
Having worked with Infosys Technologies and Oman Holding International (OHI-Oman) apart from running her own business in the supply chain industry, Bhuvaneswari has extensive experience in the insurance and retail domains and has successfully executed projects/programmes in content management, analytics, and the ERP space. She has also been instrumental in bringing key initiatives such as competency centre development and operational transformations, often adopting best practices from change management models such as McKinsey 7S & ADKAR.
In an interview with HerStory, Bhuvaneswari talks of her experiences in tech, her current responsibilities, and why flexible working models should become the norm.
Edited excerpts from the interview:
HerStory (HS): What drew you to STEM?
Bhuvaneswari Veerasamy (BV): I am an ISRO kid – this was a given. Given my love for patterns and problem solving, a natural aptitude for anything numbers (except calculus J), engineering-software-running a business all seemed a foregone conclusion. I completed my BTech in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from College of Engineering, Thiruvananthapuram.
HS: Please take us through your career.
BV: I started my career in Infosys as a software engineer and moved up to a Project Manager role when I shifted companies to Software Systems LLC. I had a stint at Infosys and moved to a role in Mercari International FZE before joining BCT-TIBCO in 2018.
As Vice President – TIBCO Delivery & MENA Services, I am responsible for the overall business growth and profitability of the services business and the team behind it. Some of my key responsibilities include:
- Strategy formulation, goal setting, execution, business planning, and control.
- Services delivery – projects, consulting engagements, managed services, outcome-based engagements.
HS: Tell us about your team. How many people do you oversee and have there been any interesting experiences?
BV: The best part of my job is the ability to work with 200+ brilliant minds and learn from them every day. Being part of the journey of building a competent team is very empowering. Together with my partner in crime, Mohsin Pathan, with the full support and guidance from our EVP Viswanathan Srinivasan, it has been a fun ride.
Hunting for office space in an unfamiliar city (Pune), learning about co-working spaces, venturing into a technology space I was not familiar with - the whole journey of three years has been interesting.
HS: How did you face the challenges of working in a pandemic?
BV: The pandemic struck us barely one year into functioning, and the biggest impact was two-fold:
External: Building relationships with customers and creating impactful awareness about the BCT-TIBCO Services capabilities
Internal: Building a cohesive team, collaborating, and bonding through shared experiences – to function as one
In both aspects, we had to constantly reinvent ourselves and after a few setbacks, within three months we were effectively leveraging the benefits of remote work hacks and tools, quite efficiently.
It is a work-in-progress still – to manage company and customer expectations on productivity and quality and balancing them with the personal aspirations and wellbeing of the employees, but we are getting there.
HS: What more can be done to attract women in tech, and – more importantly – retain them?
BV: I strongly believe that flexible working models, including encouraging part-time work, creating more inclusive workspaces, a harassment-free culture, and focused enablement initiatives run by women would be critical to attracting and retaining women in the workforce.
Establishing pay parity, while setting similar goals for all, would be another critical factor that would go a long way to help this cause.
I have been fortunate in this case; I have mostly worked in a very safe and respectful environment that helped me work to my full potential and accelerated my career growth – whether it was in Infosys or OHI or now in BCT. Even when I was running my own supply chain business for a short while, it was a comfortable experience – possibly because I was lucky to deal with the right people and companies.
While as a woman, there were constant demands based on my personal choices, to pivot and reset the course of my professional journey, the openness to learn, adapt and willingness to turn the challenge to an opportunity has fueled my career growth. There was never a dull moment and it helped me to broaden my exposure across domains, technology, and roles.
What makes this even more fulfilling is that I have been able to enrich my children’s lives and been able to set an example for them – or at least that is what I infer from the recent essay by son on his role model.
I have also learnt that, however busy you may be professionally, at the end of the day people around you matter the most and building genuine connections and networks serves you best when you are faced with life challenges.
HS: What have been your biggest successes and challenges?
BV: It has been an eventful career right from the start, but the best part about this journey was how I had to constantly reinvent myself every few years – and adapt myself not just to completely different job profiles, but to different countries, varied tech, and vastly divergent work cultures.
The 48-hour marathons as a developer, discovering inspection as a service while transporting goods from China, and managing a multi-cultural team, particularly in the Middle East - all have been challenging but great learning experiences.
HS: Why is networking essential for women in tech?
BV: Networking opens new avenues and helps to overcome the reticence conditioned in many of us to explore, be vocal, and collaborate to ideate. It is a good way to make professional relationships to grow one’s business and build the company’s brand and that of self.
HS: Why do you think there are very few women in leadership positions in tech?
BV: Family and related social pressures and the notion that women are not for STEM (good for coordination and organisation, but not so much at engineering) are some of the reasons. Earlier, growth used to get stunted, and we did not find many women in leadership positions in tech.
Having said that, this is fast changing – one of my favourite stories is that of Rana el Kaliouby, the CEO of Affectiva, an 'Emotion AI' pioneer. She is a fantastic example of how sensibilities perceived as a weakness could be turned around to be a strength.
HS: Why should every organisation have an equal opportunity mindset?
BV: A diverse team ensures the focus is on the right talent, fueling business performance. Varying perspectives and approaches to problem solving and analysis enhance the effectiveness of the solutions a business offers to its customers. This mindset helps people reach their maximum potential, promoting productivity and efficiency.
HS: Who have been your biggest inspirations?
BV: My parents and my first mentor while in Infosys, Abhay Kulkarni, are my biggest inspirations. The former for helping me believe that no matter where you start from, if you set your mind to something, you can achieve great heights through hard work and dedication. Most importantly, they have taught me that age is just a number and learning and change is possible even at 60; this helps me to constantly adapt myself to the dynamic world.
I draw inspiration from Abhay to adopt a people-empathetic approach and how despite all the stories around the corporate world – an ethical and professional approach towards the team and peers is the cornerstone for professional success. Being my first manager, the impression he left on my overall professional career has been significant and has always stood me in good stead so far.
Edited by Teja Lele