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Bhavani Amirthalingam

Vice President, North America, Information Process Organization of Schneider Electric


How technology empowers careers of women professionals

1.What is a typical day at work for you?

There is no such thing as a typical day at work for me with the very dynamic nature of business today. I spend time with our customers/partners, internal business teams, IT teams, managing key outcomes, bringing in new talent and coaching/mentoring our leaders and setting the overall direction and priorities for IT-based on our business strategy in North America for Schneider. Technology is in everything we do today and driving a technology driven business transformation is my key focus currently.

2.How easy or difficult was it for you to make a mark in this male-dominated sector?

I wrote a computer program for the first time when I was 12 years old and instantly fell in love with it. I have always been a part of the minority from when I was very young. I have been very fortunate to have had some very supportive role models both men and women throughout my life and career who have helped shape my career.

3.How can women shine as business leaders?

Be confident, follow your passion and know your business, people and financials. Do not let anyone tell you that you cannot do something you believe in. Integrity, passion, work ethic, attitude and perseverance are key to success for any business leader – man or woman. Women should be confident and stand up for themselves and find a role model/mentor.

4.Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

I would love to run a business one day and everything I can do to prepare and learn for that will be my journey for the next five years.

5.What do you do after work?

I have two kids aged 12 and 8 years and spending time with my family outside of my busy work is my number one priority. I love to read about business and technology. I enjoy the outdoors and like to hike or run as it helps to clear my head and think about things I do not get the time to think about in the normal course of the day.

6.How would you describe your journey from being a techie to a technology leader?

Getting through my computer science degree and working the summers I learned very soon that I enjoyed solving business problems using technology immensely. I went on to do a business degree with an emphasis on technology. I have been very fortunate to work with several great leaders through the course of my career who have helped me learn and grow. To be a good leader one must understand the business, people, financials and technology. Building teams, placing the right people in the right spots, making difficult decisions, balancing between rigor and discipline and freedom to innovate are all the key to being a successful leader.

7.What are your biggest achievements till date?

There are no big and small achievements – I take pride in the teams I’ve built and the business outcomes I’ve been able to drive in the last 19 years of my career. I strive to learn and look forward to bigger accomplishments every day. My biggest accomplishment is making a career out of my hobby and am enjoying every day of it. I find every opportunity to serve as a voice for women and girls in technology and help remove any stereotype bias that might exist anywhere in the organisation or society.

8.What are the drivers of change for women in technology?

Removing stereotypes and bias for girls at a young age is key to exposing them to potential opportunities. Start them young with exposure to STEM curriculums and give them opportunities to innovate and be entrepreneurial.
Bias at the workplace on what a woman can do based on her personal family situation needs to go away. Recognise and reward women for what they can do and not what you believe they can do. Pay for performance with equality is the key. Both men and women need to support women in technology.

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