Annu Ittyachen, Senior Service Delivery Manager, Consulting and Digital Transformation team, IBS Software, Cochin, India
Tell us about your role and what you enjoy
I joined IBS Software, a 'home-grown' tech company, 17 years ago as a Team Leader. It was a time when technology was starting to become prominent. My role has allowed me to combine two of my passions: tech and travel.
I now lead the implementation side of Productized Services, a wing of the Consulting and Digital Transformation division. We specialize in creating a suite of applications that interface with IBS Software solutions to give customers a holistic experience.
I love that I get to work with customers across the world; as culture and history fascinate me, my day-to-day work is a virtual cultural engagement.
I also enjoy learning something new every day from my team and often feel like a student in front of them.
What was your introduction to STEM?
It would be fair to say, that I couldn't have avoided science. My father is a physics professor and we lived on the university campus. On weekends, as a child, I would go with him and roam around, peek into the classrooms, the labs and the library.
He was a passionate photographer and developed prints himself. Those dark rooms, where a blank piece of white paper slowly turned into a picture, fascinated me; it seemed like magic.
What was your childhood ambition?
Teaching! And because my kindergarten teachers were nuns whom I adored, I also wanted to be a nun
What did you study?
Computers and software were never in my line of sight. I studied chemical engineering at university, despite being questioned on whether it was a good career choice for a woman. A college project introduced me to the fascinating world of oleoresins; my secret ambition was to be an entrepreneur in oleoresin manufacturing.
Tell us about your first role in tech
After graduating, I wanted to become a chemical engineer. But there were no jobs in that field so in a twist of fate, I joined a software firm as a developer - and loved it. There was a wide variety of projects from Windows driver development, Adobe Acrobat plugins and genetic sequencing.
Who are the people who've helped shape your career?
The women in my family have always been very strong, bold and are a true inspiration to me. My teachers had the knack for drawing out my best skills, and all my managers have had some specific quality I've hugely admired and learned from.
Are there any females in tech that you admire?
I admire any female entrepreneur. It's heart-warming to see so many young women forge a career in tech and set up their own business in such a male dominated industry.
How have things changed for women in this sector since you started your career?
I'm pleased to see there have been huge changes, not just in the tech industry, but across the board. In my part of the world, opportunities are now out there for the taking whereas they weren't a generation ago, and social attitudes have also changed considerably. Women can now prioritise careers and choose their own path.
In India, software has grown in influence and a career in tech is very well respected.
What are some of the career challenges you've experienced as a woman?
I feel lucky to say, I've personally not faced any discrimination in the workplace. Both IBS Software and my previous company have been brilliant at focusing on capability rather than gender.
My biggest challenge - and one I'm still trying to overcome as a working woman - is balancing work and home life. It's not easy, but the trend towards remote and hybrid working is certainly helping many women like myself to get that balance right.
What advice would you give to the next generation of women entering the sector?
Be confident: voice your opinions in meetings and know that you have value to add.
Learn more than you're asked to do, so you can become a true expert. Explore beyond the boundaries and always keep yourself updated, especially in the tech world which changes so often.
But remember, you don't have to be a superwoman: build a support network of people who will help you on the way to success and don't go down the guilt road.
Be financially smart, have interests outside of work and above all, have fun!
Tell us about your dream travels…
I'm fascinated by nature and natural forms, so my dream is to visit the Himalayas. Now that we can work remotely from anywhere, the possibilities are endless!
I'm currently reading…
Anything related to travel, history and culture – William Dalrymple is a favourite author.