Career Choices

From the time I wrote my very first piece of software code I was completely captivated. I was fascinated by how you can take a complex challenge and break it down to small pieces and write software to solve it. And I could use my creativity to look at a problem and solve it in my way, which may be quite different from how another person solved the same problem. This was really interesting to me, and the possibilities seemed infinite.

Although software technology as a career choice was just beginning to open up at that time, I recognized that software was one way you could make your presence felt beyond your physical limits and reach people anywhere in the world. You could write a software program that someone sitting on the opposite corner of the world could use to change his or her life or solve a problem that you are not even aware of. The idea of touching people’s lives directly without even knowing them was really fascinating to me.

Professional Interests & Drive

Although I am a technology entrepreneur, with a master’s in computer science, having founded two tech companies – one a SaaS software product and another providing software services – and living in Silicon Valley, I do not get excited with technology for the sake of technology alone. What fascinates me is how we use that technology to improve people’s lives.

My passion is to explore the intersection of business, technology, and people, and I love to dive deep into the dynamics there. I believe that all technology is built for people, that there is no B2B or B2C, everything ultimately is Human to Human, and how it helps that person in that specific situation improve his or her life.

That’s why with ConvergeHub my goal is to build a product that will help each person do his or her job better. It’s more than selling or marketing or providing customer service. It’s about doing things in a better way, contributing more, making a difference right where they are.

Mentors & Influencers

The first mentor I have ever had was my third-grade teacher. She was always very encouraging towards me and somehow, I had that special bond with her. One day she asked all of us in the class to write an essay on what each of wanted to become when we grew up. I wrote about whatever my current ambition was at that point in time and submitted the essay. The next day she pulled me aside and started asking me more about my dreams and goals. Then she stopped, looked at me, and said ‘I know that you can be whoever you want to be. Remember that you have the ability to be whatever you choose to be.’ I didn’t know at the time that she had some health issues. She stopped coming to class a few weeks later. And a few months later she passed away due to some medical complications. I was really young and had a difficult time understanding and dealing with the situation. But somehow that incident stayed with me and even now I can hear her words ‘you can be whoever you want to be’.

Mentorship Value

I believe mentorship is critical in supporting careers of women in technology, especially at a young age. When girls are growing up and making choices about what they want to study and what career path they want to follow, it is very critical that they are aware that every option is open to them, and they can choose to pursue any career that they are genuinely interested in. This may be a simple message and maybe most girls growing up today know that already, but it is one thing to know it theoretically, and quite another thing to actually believe it and internalize it. They should know that gender does not play a role in their career dreams unless they choose to let it.

Another important stage is when young women just enter the workforce. That is another critical time when mentorship is needed to help them gain confidence in the career of their choice and ensure that they are aware of all the options available to them.

And at any stage of life, if any woman feels that their career of choice is not really what they had expected it to be, and is not serving their needs, then mentorship is critical to help them make another choice and support them through the transition.

Admired Leaders & Trailblazers

I really admire the women scientists of earlier generations, such as Marie Curie, Rachel Carson, Rosalind Franklin, Barbara McClintock, and even more recent scientists like Jane Goodall or Sylvia Earle. They did their research and work at a time when a career in science for women was an impossible dream. I really admire them and can’t even begin to imagine the courage and the single-minded dedication it took for them to be able to become successful in their field.

Advancing Gender Parity

To any girl or woman pursuing a career in technology, my advice would be to be open to changes, and at the same time to keep their focus on the problem that the technology is aiming to solve.

When you follow a career in technology, there are two aspects to your work. The first is learning and using the actual technology itself, which is constantly changing and evolving, and it is important to be open to change and be able to adapt and learn new things quickly. But there is also another aspect to it – which is the underlying problem that the technology is aiming to solve. It is always important to know the big picture – to know exactly how the technology that you are working on will be used in real life situations, how will people interact with it. This aspect of technology doesn’t change as quickly. Focusing on this second aspect will not only give more meaning to the technology you are building, but it will also make you more valuable in your career because not many people put in that effort.

Leading the Next Generation

Women tend to approach work in a different way than men. One of these differences is that women often tend to focus on the core work itself rather than other aspects of career development such as networking, relationship building, continuing education, etc. And as women gain experience and grow in their careers, their personal life often changes around this time, and this can lead to further narrowing down of focus. So, organizations need to recognize this and allow women more flexibility to get work done in their own time and in their own way. Organizations should also remove any biases or prejudices that often creep up unnoticed. It is important that organizations make their expectations and criteria for career advancement explicit and unambiguous so that every employee is aware of exactly what is expected of them in order to move to leadership roles and progress in their career.

About Shampa Bagchi

Shampa Bagchi is the Founder and CEO of ConvergeHub, a customer lifecycle management (CRM) software that powers business growth. Shampa specializes in taking ideas from concept to reality and is passionate about helping businesses grow by utilizing the power of technology to solve complex challenges. She also founded Corelynx, a software strategy agency providing innovative technology solutions to growing organizations. Shampa holds a master’s degree in computer science and has been at the forefront of the technology revolution in the Silicon Valley for more than two decades. She has been a ‘woman in tech’ long before #womenintech became a movement.

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