Mridula Vattathara Phinoo, Lead Test Analyst, Consulting and Digital Transformation team, IBS Software, Cochin, India
Hello Mridula, tell us about your role and what you enjoy
I'm a lead test analyst, working on member portals for airline loyalty programs. We test applications before delivery of products to clients.
I enjoy finding and analysing issues and providing ideas for improvement, contributing towards delivering a quality product. I get to collaborate with smart, interesting, and passionate people at every level in the organization.
Ultimately, I enjoy my role not just because I love what I do, but also because I am part of a dream team which is almost like my extended family.
How did you get started in tech?
I studied engineering in Information Technology; my first role after graduation was as a lecturer in computer science. But I soon realised it wasn't my cup of tea!
Tell us how your career has developed
I knew from the start of my marriage that I would have to be flexible with my career choices; my husband's area of expertise is in metro railways where employees typically move around every five years.Packing up home and new beginnings would be part of the mix.
I started in the IT industry when we moved to Dubai. I joined a technology solutions company as a software developer, working on a payroll product.
Our next move was to Bangalore, where I worked at Infosys. I enjoyed this role, it gave me the opportunity to connect with global clients such as Pfizer and work on internal applications.
For my husband's next assignment, we relocated to Doha, Qatar, where unfortunately the opportunities for me in the tech sector didn't fit in with our family's demands – schools start and finish very early (5.45am-1pm!) and it was difficult to find a role that could work around our childcare needs.
After much thought, I decided to take a career break and dedicate more time to raising my kids. In my mind, I always knew this would be a temporary stop and I would go back to work; our plan was to eventually return to our family home in Cochin, India for the children's further education and where we had a ready-made support network.
How did you stay engaged in your field during this break?
I made a point of taking online courses to keep my testing skills updated; I also kept in touch with friends in the industry, checking on tech developments and getting guidance from them.
This gave me confidence and helped me to secure my present job at IBS Software.
How did you find your role at IBS Software?
The timing was perfect! When we returned to Cochin, I heard about the role from my sister Kavitha, who has worked at the company for the past ten years. She told me about the 'Back to Work after Break' program.
What appealed to you about this program?
That the company was actively recruiting people like me, those who'd left the workplace to look after families. I liked the focus on my skills and talents rather than a gap in my CV, this made a big difference.
How was your transition back to the workplace?
I was expecting a lot of challenges in resuming my career, I hadn't been in the workplace for five years. However, to my surprise, it was very smooth. All credit to my manager Annu Ittyachen, who took a chance on me by including me in her team, something which other employers might have hesitated to do.
I also owe a lot to my team members for being so considerate and making great efforts to guide me throughout. We have a strong team spirit.
What has coming back to work meant to you?
It has boosted my confidence and self-esteem. I can stand on my own two feet; I can support my family.
How have things changed for women in this sector since you resumed your career?
There's been a shift in the work culture, brought about by Covid. The 'work from home' policy implemented by employers during the pandemic has turned out to be a blessing for working mothers. I can see in my circle that many women are now back to work with a better work-life balance, which in turn has increased their productivity.
What advice would you give to women who are considering coming back to work?
Step out of your comfort zone and reskill yourself in line with any new industry requirements.
You absolutely need to try to pursue your dream career, better late than never! A little planning and lot of confidence is what you need.
Above all, don't be apologetic about your career gap. Brave hearts can only quit their dream job for a noble cause. If you are one among them, be proud about it, a comeback requires courage.
If I can do it, so can you 😊
My passions are…
Dancing and travel!
I joined a dance group when I lived in Qatar, it's such a fun hobby.
As a family, we make the most of the school holidays and love to travel. Recently we went on a cruise and have enjoyed trips to the UK, Switzerland, and Italy. We also loved places like Georgia, Armenia, Malaysia and Singapore.