Driving Innovations to the Tech World
Dr. Rohini Srivathsa, National Technology Officer – Microsoft India
Dr. Rohini Srivathsa, National Technology Officer- Microsoft India is responsible for driving growth and innovation through ‘tech-intensity’ across industries, customers, partners, and the government.
She is also a member of the Sensitive Uses Working Group of Microsoft’s AETHER (AI and Ethics in Engineering and Research) Committee. AETHER comprises a group of global thought leaders who advise the top leadership of Microsoft about the opportunities and challenges involved in AI innovations.
Read on to know more about Rohini Srivathsa’s contributions to technology.
The Journey Begins
Rohini Sivathsa saw the computer for the first time as a sixth-grader and from that day onwards she developed an interest in technology. In the following years, she pursued her STEM education (science, mathematics, engineering, and technology), which lead her to an international career in technology.
Rohini earned her PhD in Computer Engineering from UT Austin and holds an MBA from Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. Rohini began her career in R&D -AT&T Bell Laboratories in the US.
Before joining Microsoft, she pursued a strategy consulting career at the Boston Consulting Group and IBM Global Business Services and received the opportunity to engage with CxOs across emerging markets. In her 25 years in the industry, Rohini held various job roles in the areas of cloud, analytics and mobility, and artificial intelligence across diverse sectors including financial services, technology, consumer, and telecom.
As National Technology Officer and Head of Strategy in Microsoft India, she is leading strategic initiatives to fast-track digital transformation across government organizations and industries. She has been instrumental in leading various programs that leverage emerging exponential technologies like AI to drive innovation for inclusive socio-economic growth over the past years.
Career Boundaries as a Woman
According to Rohini, her Ph.D. adviser and manager of her first job were both amazingly supportive and encouraging towards women colleagues. Her stars were lucky enough that even though they were men, they were having feminist views. She was always recognized for her high performance.
When she was pursuing her researcher job, she became a mother, which is a big milestone for any woman. She had the liberty to discuss the next steps in the career with her boss such as when can she restart work, how can she contribute and evolve in her job, her responsibilities, and so on.
According to her, mentorship is important to be successful in a career. Women need to have the confidence to take risks and get the support of the boss and colleagues.
Less Representation of Women in Tech
During her undergraduate years, only 20% of students were women and considered a good number during that time. However, she could find only 5-10% of women in her grad school at U.T. Austin.
There is a lack of demand and supply of the right talent globally in the world of technology. Hence, women participation in technology is still less compared to their men counterparts. Adding to this, the potential of women in India is untapped even today. Rohini opined that when you see the economic growth of the US in the 60s, it can be correlated with the increase of women participation in different sectors.
Rohini Srivathsa stressed the importance of women in the AI domain as the problems have to be solved in multiple dimensions such as from the point of empathy, collaboration, etc., not in an analytical dimension. This cognitive strength and multitasking capabilities can be seen in women naturally.
Gender diversity in organizations is going to enhance the innovative mind-set and effectiveness of the organization. Since a lot of women are entering STEM education, India will not face any lack of women participation in science and technology. Women should have the ability to foresee their career as a long-term marathon and stay in the course with confidence.
Even after a career break, women should return to their career that is possible with the help of mentors and a support system.
Another important challenge for women to overcome unconscious bias in organisations. Hence, women participation is not only about upskilling but also having long-term career planning to empower them against unconscious gender bias. Today, several organizations are encouraging women to return to their career.
Advice to Future Women Leaders
STEM is not just important; it is also full of opportunities. Today, every industry need people with technology skills. The demand is increasing, but the supply of people with the right skills is a concern. Hence, women can play a key role to meet the current demand.
A lot of tech roles require the strengths of women such as being able to communicate across boundaries, being able to multitask, and openness to flexibility.
Rohini is a thought-leader, and a business and technology advisor to multiple entities: ECE department at Carnegie Mellon University, MIT Technology Review Insights, Wiley Innovation Advisory Council, NM-ICPS – Dept, of Science and Technology of the Government of India, SRITNE at the Indian School of Business.
Rohini was recognized as the ‘Top10 Most Influential Analytics Leaders in India -2019 by Analytics India Magazine.
REVA Academy for Corporate Excellence, REVA University has selected Rohini Srivathsa for ‘Top 10 Women Tech Leaders India Awards 2021’ in association with Terralogic Inc. and co-sponsored by CloudxLab. Rohini has been selected for this prestigious award because of her contributions to AI innovations and strategic initiatives for digital information.