Women in Tech: Sheeba George, Senior Service Delivery Manager, IBS Software
Tell us a bit about your role and what you enjoy.
I'm responsible for the product management teams for one of our well-known travel clients, managing relationships with different stakeholders. I look after a department of 75 people. It's a multi-faceted role but what I really enjoy is working with people - from hiring and onboarding, setting team goals, fostering team collaborations to sharing best practices and then, seeing the developments.
What first inspired you to go into STEM?
The race to space! At school, I loved reading about the first man on the moon and space engineering. Satellites were the big thing. This led me to study Electronics and Communications Engineering at college.
Tell us how you started your career in tech.
I had two choices after I graduated. One offer was a short service commission with the military doing engineering; and the other was with IBS Software. I chose IBS as I was fascinated by the Technopark campus environment – I became familiar with it during a college project. I joined IBS on the LITMUS scheme (Learn IT from US), working as a software developer, learning Java. I've been at IBS Software ever since, that was over 20 years ago!
What has kept you at IBS Software for the duration of your career?
The guidance from my managers; the opportunity to work on the latest technologies and the trust I've gained from customers. It's encouraging when they talk about the positive power that women bring to the table and say: "You are fierce!"
I'm also a social person and I've made good friends at IBS over the years; colleagues have become lifetime besties and the office is a 'home away from home', it really doesn't feel like going to work. I enjoy dancing and singing in company events and interacting with all age groups. This keeps me young in spirit 🙂
Tell us about a particularly proud moment in your career.
My first onsite visit to an airline customer; we flew to Dubai for a user acceptance testing phase, a key moment in delivering a launch. It was so exciting! We had behind-the-scenes access to the airport, and we could see all the planes taking off and landing.
Who are the mentors who have helped to shape your career?
There are certainly friends and colleagues who have helped and advised me, but I must mention my parents. My father always encouraged me to prioritise my career, which is sometimes hard when you have a young family. I inherited his determination and perseverance. From my mother, I learnt patience and budgeting.
Are there any women in tech that you admire and why?
Indra Nooyi, formerly of PepsiCo, ASEA Brown Boveri and Motorola; she speaks honestly about the challenge of combining a career with family life. Her advice of 'never compare yourself to others' is something that has stayed with me. One of my favourite quotes by her is: "An important attribute of success is to be yourself. Never hide what makes you, you. "
What are some of the career challenges you've experienced as a woman?
Work/life balance. I turned down new responsibilities at work as things at home weren't really falling into place: dealing with a daily two-hour commute, looking after my small kids, focusing on a house construction project. But later, when life was back on track, I wanted more from my role. I discussed it with my manager and asked if I could have three months to prove myself. This turned out to be my golden time. I travelled in India, to Europe, the US, made valuable connections and oversaw launches. I felt awesome.
How have you encouraged other women in the workplace?
I share my own experiences with colleagues. Business travel is a big challenge for working mothers with young children; the job often requires you to be away for weeks at a time, so women tend to avoid these opportunities. I talk to my team about the bigger picture – the value of travel, making face-to-face connections with stakeholders; I show them photos from my trips to Europe and tell them how I found solutions by making childcare arrangements with the extended family. Something I've learnt over the years is that you think it's difficult for children to survive when you are away but, they're perfectly happy and able to manage without you!
What career advice would you give to the next generation of women?
Be the best! It's what I say to my daughter. Identify your strengths and weaknesses; learn to be independent and enjoy what you do. Be ready to accept and even celebrate fabulous failures, they are the steppingstones to your next success. Know your rights as well as your responsibilities; don't worry about other people's opinions of you. Trust in The Almighty and things will fall into place at the right time.
My next trip will be to…
Kullu Manali, in Himachal Pradesh, India. I love the mountains and I'm looking forward to playing in the snow with my kids, they've never seen snow before.
I'm currently reading…
…What got you here Won't Get You There, by Marshall Goldsmith.