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Aswathy Govind, Senior Product Manager, Consulting and Digital Transformation team, IBS Software, Cochin, India

Aswathy Govind Blog

Tell us a bit about your role and why you joined IBS Software

I'm part of the Innovation team at IBS Software, helping to develop new revenue-generating business ideas, processes, services and products, from concept to launch.

I'm new to the travel tech space; I was drawn to IBS Software because I was keen to explore the aviation industry at a time when innovation is taking centre stage.

What do you enjoy about your role?  

I love that it's so versatile and constantly evolving. We often enter unchartered waters as part of our work: creating brand new ideas, figuring out business potential, and testing the product in market. As Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce said, "You need to get to the future first, ahead of your customers." I love the challenge this brings, and the range of skills it requires.

Being part of the Innovation team also means I get to work with a diverse group of people with different ideas, which sparks new possibilities and fresh learnings.

Naturally, we experience both great successes and failures, but it teaches me to enjoy the present, forget the past and move forward with optimism to the next success. 

How did you get started? Did you always want to be in the tech sector?

Nothing in my career has ever been over-planned. Looking back, I realise I just never missed an opportunity to be part of something new.

Instead of a career-oriented engineering course, I chose a more theoretical computer science degree, following up with a Masters in Computer Applications at Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT).

My first role was in product development, as a Java developer. It's where I was introduced to advanced tech such as OSGI, Audio/Video Conferencing, Bluetooth. Since then, I've always been part of new initiatives – from process certifications to talent development; setting up mobile tech and gaming departments; working with VFx and other creative people, to scalable and offshoot start-ups, it's all been a fun ride.

And then it was time for something new, right?

Yes! After about 15 years in the industry, I studied for an MBA at the Indian Institute of Management Kozhikode to fuel my academic interest. I worked with start-ups in education tech and health tech in varied functions, from go-to market strategist to taking on a CEO role.

What was your childhood ambition?

Both my parents were college professors, so for a long time as a child I wanted to follow in their footsteps and pursue a career in academia.

But thinking back even further, I used to fantasize about time travel! I wanted to build my own time machine to go back and visit places of historic importance so I could be an eyewitness to key events, see how people lived.

Tell us about your early experiences with tech

Our first home computer! My father made sure I had one for my studies.

Aswathy and her Father with their first home computer

I also still remember my excitement when I successfully ran the first Assembly language program on an 8085 microprocessor at college.

Who are your female mentors and people who helped shape your career?

I'm fortunate enough to have met a lot of talented and creative women.

From my physics teacher, I learnt the meaning of responsibility. My first female boss taught me the power of a collaborative leadership style. One of the consultants I worked with showed me how software life cycles and management lessons could be compared to examples from the home kitchen: raw materials, version control, customers, feedback cycle, innovations, budgeting – they're all common goals for a team to work towards. That kind of mentoring motivates you to explore different angles. 

How have things changed for women in this sector since you started your career? 

Things have changed considerably. Fifteen years ago, I was often the only woman in training programs. Now, I get to meet many other women attending professional development courses and conferences.

How do you support other women in your field and beyond?

I try to do my bit. I am a member of the Kerala Management Association and the KMA Women Managers Forum that work with government bodies and educational institutions to support women. I help with projects that strive for the financial empowerment of women and train them on various aspects of entrepreneurship; I've even led a few of these sessions myself.

I'm also a member of the governing board of NIMIT, an academic institution where I help with the gap in industry expectation and academic output, working to close this via training, internships, and other initiatives.

What do you enjoy about these projects?

It's satisfying to contribute to society, sharing what we've learnt, our experiences and providing practical guidance. In turn, it helps with insights on how different clusters of society work, their challenges, aspirations. At times, it even provides new perspectives in designing new solutions.

What are some of the career challenges you've experienced as a woman?

I'm lucky enough to say that I've never encountered a glass ceiling. The biggest challenge is probably balancing work and life and knowing when to prioritize family over a job. I left my CEO position voluntarily to spend time with my kids and took up consultancy projects instead.

Aswathy and her family

What career advice would you give to the next generation entering the tech sector now?

Grab whatever opportunity that comes your way. Own your career decisions: only you know what is good for you.

Continuous learning. I keep an eye on developments and changes. For example, I check which tech my kids and their friends are interested in, how they play, what they watch, to understand what kind of workforce to expect and what customers will want in the future. I currently have a newfound interest in the Metaverse because of my 11-year-old's curiosity in NFTs.

Look to the younger generations to know how the world will change: - and to supervise them, work with them and even work for them is the best way to learn continuously.

Build and nurture professional relationships to stay up to date.

I'm currently reading 

I'm a regular at my local library and tend to pick up a couple of books at a time. I love to read novels, drama, and short stories from Indian writers and other countries that portray village life to understand different cultures. Recently, I've been reading "Life Story of the Metroman of India" by Kerala-born E Sreedharan.

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