Asha Potla (Pilani, ’96) is the Director of Product Management and Engineering at Soprano Design. She has 15 years of product management expertise. She talks about empowering women in the tech industry, breaking stereotypes about working women and gender equality.
Please share how different leadership roles helped you develop as a person, the challenges that came with it, and how you overcame them.
After working for 15 years and meeting interesting people, I have learned and grown professionally and I am definitely not the person I was before. Started as a software engineer, I got into a strategic role of being a leader in Product Management leader and Engineering, worked directly with the CEO of Soprano Design, a major Australian tech firm in mobile communications and AI space.
I have worked in different roles and working in every role, I have striven to improve myself. True leadership comes from the ability to self-manage before we groom others, a genuine interest in the team’s aspirations, and allowing them to grow in their roles.
Biasedness against a woman of color is a challenge that I have come across working in leadership roles oversees. Women are more resilient, and stronger than they think and can easily multi-task. Since the beginning of my career, I have been vocal and bold in my opinions. I never withheld anything nor was I afraid of expressing myself. Over time, people realised my value and started respecting me for that.
You are a strong advocate for gender equality in Australia. How important is the support that women provide each other at their work?
Empowering will make the world a better place to live in. I believe that if a boy is educated, then only he is educated. But if a girl is educated, the entire family will be educated. Women’s employment is a crucial step towards the society’s progress; it not only has a positive impact on the family but the society as a whole.
Giving women the flexibility at work place and providing them with the opportunities to lead is important. The gender bias can be broken when women feel safe in the environment, where despite making mistakes, they have an opportunity to learn and feel confident enough to put forward their opinion.
I know it’s a long way, but the fact that this issue is being talked about is a big step in itself.
You have a successful career trajectory. What was that constant source of motivation for you that helped you going forward at all times?
My passion towards technology and a ‘can do’ attitude took me places; and I strongly believe that ones passion will take them a long way. Not doubting oneself even the slightest will help them achieve the goals they always dreamt of.
What has made you the proudest of yourself in your career? A moment that'll always stay special to you?
Working in the tech industry, I am able to drive technology vision and business strategy, and it gives me immense joy.
I feel lucky to be a part of Soprano Design that caters to more than 150 Global Forbes 2000 companies and large government organisations across four continents who trust us with their communications to their consumers, employees, patients, and citizens every year – especially during the COVID-19 pandemic period.
As a senior leader, I get to work with and lead great minds to steer the company’s technology vision and investment that adds value to the lives of the people.
What advice would you give to the students who will start their career in the IT sector?
For women who wish to start their career in any field, I have only three words: ‘GO FOR IT’. Be bold and be authentic, and over time, you will be valued for what you are.
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