Anuja Sasidharan, Program Manager Consulting and Digital Transformation team, IBS Software, Hannover, Germany
Hello Anuja, tell us a bit about you, your role and what you enjoy
I'm originally from Kerala, India and joined IBS Software in 2006 as a team leader. Since 2018, I've been based in Hannover, Germany for an onsite assignment at a leading European leisure airline group.
I have a multi-faceted role, managing a team of engineers across various locations in India, Germany, and the UK. We support and maintain the software needed in the airline operations domain, such as crew planning, flight planning. We also help the customer in modernising their technology platform, including support for migration from on premise data centres to the cloud.
In addition, I get the opportunity to team up with the sales team, preparing responses to various RFP's (Request For Proposal) which keeps the role varied and challenging.
Working with people always excites me: leading a team with different personalities and driving them towards a common goal is always the most fulfilling part of my role.
How did you get started?
I studied Computer Science and Engineering at Kannur University, Kerala. My original plan was to take up a teaching career.
However, once I joined my first IT company in 2001 in Cochin, there was no looking back, I loved the corporate world! So here I am, in only my second company after 21 years in the IT industry.
What has kept you at IBS Software for over 15 years?
From the beginning, my managers and mentors have played an integral role in molding me and helping me to step up the career ladder; the company has provided training as well as support for management certifications.
Overall, I admire the way colleagues live up to the company's core values of integrity and respect for the individual.
Tell us about your current learning focus
I've recently started an MBA course with Liverpool John Moores University. Balancing the job and studies can be tough at times but learning new things always energizes me.
Do you remember your first experience with tech?
Yes! I was 15 years old, my parents bought me a CRT computer. I was happy to create computations, it was a fun way to pass the time; I never imagined it would lead to a career in this industry!
How have things changed for women in this sector since you started?
When I first joined the IT industry at the beginning of the millennium, female representation was quite low. There was a misconception that women wouldn't want to work for more than two or three years after their studies. But thankfully, attitudes have changed, and we've seen women becoming an integral part of the workforce, taking on leadership roles.
I'm always pleased to see an increasing number of confident young women at campus recruitment events.
How do you support other women in your field?
There have been a few instances where female team members were planning to quit their jobs because of family reasons. I've tried to help them navigate the work/life challenge by finding solutions such as flexible options, openly discussing their problems with the wider team to manage priorities and build enough confidence to continue their career.
In my experience as a leader, you must build trust and accountability with your team members. It's important to offer flexibility with timings, the freedom to work on what they want, when they want.
What are some of the career challenges you've experienced as a woman?
Luckily, none. But I know the reality might look vastly different to other women. I am fortunate enough to have a supportive family which does not hinder my career aspirations. Personally, I've never hesitated to work in any situation just because I am a woman. I've never felt uncomfortable at work, whether that's working out of hours or travelling for business.
My approach is to face your fears and facilitate resolution, whatever the situation, be it in IT or in life. Perseverance matters.
What career advice would you give to the next generation entering the tech sector now?
I will share the advice my father gave me when I started my first job:
Never stop working, never stop learning.
When in doubt, ask. When you need help, ask.
To this, I would also add: take care of yourself, eat well, exercise, travel often, meet new people, have new experiences.
Weekends are for…
…exploring the historical sights in Hannover; hiking trips around Europe and watching movies, especially in theatres. I never miss any new Indian or English language releases.
My next trip will be to…
Lisbon for a business trip as part of a PMI volunteering activity. I am looking forward to visiting a new city as well as an opportunity to meet peers from all around the world in the project management function. I love travelling, be it for business or leisure.