WOMEN IN TECH PROFILE: APARNA PAI
August 30, 2022 by CLG Team
Aparna knew early that a career in technology was her calling. Her childhood involved many powerful women in her life like her mother, aunties and cousins all working and excelling in the software industry. This influenced Aparna to fall in love with the industry, and it was an “organic” decision to pursue tech long-term.
Today, Aparna is a Data Scientist at Bunnings Group Limited and strongly believes that diversity in tech is essential.
Read on to learn more about her journey into tech:
Can you tell us a little more about your diverse background? Do you think it's helped your tech career?
I had made up my mind to pursue a tech career at the age of 13 (sounds crazy, I know!). Growing up in the southern part of India, I always had lots of women in my family and friends circle who worked in the Software industry. Having these role models early in my life has heavily influenced me to pursue a tech career.
Can you tell us about the journey that led you to a career in technology?
From a young age, I had realised that I didn't have any artistic inclinations, nor did I have a liking for the medical field. I always found maths and science really interesting and easy to wrap my head around. Computers were first introduced in my school when I was 12 or 13 and I instantly fell in love with the tech. Subsequently, I developed a strong liking for algorithms and programming. Choosing a tech career was an organic and conspicuous decision for me.
Since entering tech, what has your career progression looked like?
I was clear I needed to be in Tech, but the tricky part was finding which area is best for me. I started off as an Electronics Engineer, worked in an embedded software and hardware job for 3 years but realised it wasn't for me. I took a break and decided to give a shot at Data Science and have been loving it ever since! There are so many of my colleagues from diverse backgrounds who now work in Machine Learning and it proves that there is no set pattern that our career should follow!
Who or what inspires you as a woman in technology?
I have been lucky to have several inspirations growing up including my mother, cousins and aunts with tech backgrounds. Even though I had a fair share of non-tech role models, a tech career has always been my calling.
Why do you think diversity in tech is important?
Diversity in tech is essential! Unlike in the last few decades, tech has become an inevitable part of our everyday lives. When major tech players make decisions and launch products designed with only one cohort of the population in mind, this can have an adverse impact on the rest of the community. For instance, once an all-male tech team designed a health monitoring app for women which didn't have any menstrual tracking functionality. It is a case of poor design due to the lack of diversity.
Do you have advice for women or diverse individuals who might be considering moving to a role in tech?
Go for it! The tech teams across a majority of companies are much more diverse now than ever before, and the trend is positive. The plus side is that you can always grow in your career, and have a decent work-life balance and job security. Also, tech roles are well-paid. The only downside is that tech trends gradually shift over time and it's important to stay up to date-which honestly is not that hard.
What is your dream or goal for the future of tech?
Automation is the key in my opinion. There is still tons of stuff that we as humans can automate and that is even happening in my industry - Data Science. This should free up our valuable time to chase solutions to real problems in the world.
QUICK FIRE ROUND
What's the best investment you've made in your career under $1000?
Apply for a masters program and then spend hours of research on how to secure a scholarship/assistantship to study for free! Trust me, anyone can make it happen if you really try. Another investment was to enrol in a few Data science courses online and free DS videos on YouTube. It is also good to find tech icons in your industry and follow them on LinkedIn and YouTube if they have educational contents (Andrew NG for me)
What's your favourite quote or mantra?
God gave us relatives, thank God we can choose our friends (choose wisely!)
Name a book that's inspired you?
One piece of tech you can't live without?
YouTube premium for endless educational and motivational content