Women in Tech: Sandhya M Nair, General Manager and Head of Enabling Transformation practice, IBS Software
Tell us a bit about your role and what you enjoy
I lead the Enabling Transformation practice for the Consulting and Digital Transformation Strategic Business Unit.
We provide business change management services to our customers. We work with the user community in our customers' organizations to ensure they are excited about the change and become competent in using our products to manage their business. While the Consulting and Technology teams manage business process re-engineering and software rollout, we manage the people dimension of the change for our customers.
I find helping people in different organisations adopt new practices to make their work easier, faster and more productive, quite exciting. A strong desire to make a difference in whatever I do, coupled with my love for working with people – that is what gets me to work every day!
How did you start your career in tech?
I can truly say that I did not plan to be in this field. An English language specialist with a postgraduate research degree, my focus was on a career in tertiary education.
It was when I chanced upon an opportunity at IBS Software, that I realised the same education I had envisaged as leading to a teaching career, could serve me well in an innovative workplace.
What drew you to tech?
It is a given that the success of a programme rests on not just how well the software is built to address the needs of the user community but also on how easily they can adopt the new software and realize value. And the effective use of language makes all the difference - between a good solution and a great one!
The realisation that language and communication could help bridge the distance between the developers and the users drew me to this sector.
I have been with IBS Software for over 20 years now. My professional journey is a good example of how the world opens up when we look beyond traditional pathways. I am glad I explored new avenues when I did and that I was courageous enough to switch to a new field.
What career challenges have you experienced as a woman?
My challenges are those of a typical working woman. There have been occasions when I have felt torn between the home and the workplace, because of an emergency or a deadline. Balancing these has been a delicate act, at times involving compromises. This is perhaps common to men and women but we women seem to feel it more.
As a mother to young children, I wasn't always present when they needed me. However, when I look back, I realise that my physical absence has made them grow into self-reliant individuals who believe in their own abilities. With time, it has become easier. My children are now building their own careers as young adults which creates an enabling environment for me to pursue mine. I am lucky that my family has been supportive of my work choices.
What career advice would you give to the next generation entering the industry?
Never say 'no' to an opportunity! To youngsters setting off on their chosen careers, I would warn them against complacency. It is all exciting at the start of a career but soon everything settles into a comfortable routine. From that point, it is not a long route to boredom and frustration. The only way to beat it, is to keep stepping outside one's comfort zone. I believe in pushing myself beyond what I think are my capabilities. And when I do that, I expand the range of what I can do, stay the course and take on challenges that I would not have attempted before. Over the years, I have come to understand that outside the comfort zone lies a whole range of new experiences, thoughts and opinions. Navigating the landscape and absorbing the best of them makes life interesting
What opportunities has working in tech brought you?
Travel - my work has taken me to interesting places that I would not have set foot on otherwise - the Arctic, Greece, Turkey, and Lebanon to name a few.
Each trip has left an indelible mark on me, enriching my understanding of different peoples and cultures. This exposure has helped me grow professionally and personally - thanks to the learnings from people about new ways of doing things, new thoughts and ideas.
I have recorded some of my observations and experiences with great pleasure on Instagram – do take a look at @transient_trails and let me know what you think!
Tell us about your favourite authors
I am enamoured of Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters. For a literature student, this love of classics comes as no surprise. Among more recent writers, I enjoy reading Daphne du Maurier. Wole Soyinka is a strong favourite, as my research was based on his works. John Kotter, Jim Collins, Ken Blanc, Simon Sinek are some others I keenly follow. My time at IBS Software has sparked a keen interest in leadership and management-related journals and books. So much so, that I dreamt of a management certification which I achieved a few years ago by obtaining a Postgraduate Certification in Business Management from XLRi.