Women in Technology -- Aravinda Gollapudi
This summer, we’re kicking off a Women in Technology blog series focusing on some fantastic women in leadership roles here at the Sage Intacct office of Sage. These women come from all walks of life, and are mentors, moms, bosses, and even beekeepers. Their stories and wisdom inspired me, and I trust you’ll find the same.
This profile is with Aravinda Gollapudi, Vice President of Engineering for Sage Intacct. Here’s what she had to share…
Brittany Benson: So glad to have you here, Aravinda. Let’s start off with you telling me a little bit about your role at Sage Intacct. Aravinda Gollapudi: Sure! I am the Vice President of Engineering where I am responsible for all development and QA for Sage Intacct and leading teams in multiple locations, including San Jose, India, and Romania. Brittany: Being able to manage teams from three different countries sounds highly challenging yet exciting! Prior to moving to Sage Intacct, could you tell me a little about what led you to engineering and the technology space?
Aravinda Gollapudi: Of course! I started off my career with a masters in physics. After receiving my degree, I spent a year of research in the field quantum optics. During this time, most of my work involved programming, which I noticed to be based in logic and math and enjoyed doing. I decided to switch fields and pursue a degree in Computer Engineering when I came to the US and so I joined San Jose State University.
I was able to get a feel for computer engineering during my internship with National Semiconductor. I realized I didn’t really enjoy it and preferred the idea of sticking to software. During my masters, I heard about Tandem Computers (now part of HP) and how they developed nonstop computing architecture. I was fortunate to start my first full time job there, trying out TAL programming and sharing memory buffers for TCP/IP. From networking to security at Verizon, I was able to learn and contribute towards PKI, SSL and Client certs, certificate management, one time passwords and more. I started to realize my work is not just about programming, but also influencing products and solutions.
I also had the opportunity to work with Microsoft and Cisco to refine IPSec protocol and design a certificate enrollment protocol. This period of my career was a bit daunting. I, along with my product manager, were working with VPs and chief architects. I learnt the importance of pushing myself, learning and observing folks around me. Soon I started working with hardware vendors and partners for our one time password devices, and established relationship to work jointly. I also started engaging more on the business side of work as well.
Having demonstrated abilities of leading a team, having personable skills and balancing communication well, the leader at the time approached me when my manager had quit and offered me the management role. That is the start of my management career.
With every position I’ve held, and every project I’ve tackled, I have grown from each experience. I have branched myself in other areas and learned new things. I grew up the ranks, and now, here I am at Sage Intacct. Every step of the way came a learning experience. The best thing about Sage Intacct is their core values, solid product, great market position and fantastic trajectory with international expansion. With acquisition by Sage, we have a far greater reach, penetration and capabilities.
Brittany: Besides having an incredible work environment to motivate innovation, is there a specific woman who has inspired you; either professionally, personally, or both?
Aravinda: I’ve always had women who have inspired me throughout my career. Even to this day, I have women mentors who help me out, one being Hemma Prafullachandra, who is the chief technology officer for M365 Security and Compliance at Microsoft, who truly exemplifies the meaning of grit.
Other women that inspired me include my first manager, Krista Porter, at National Semiconductor, and the leader who recognized my skill set and pushed me to go into management, Kathleen Wilson, who is now at Mozilla.
There are some people who inspire me, and there are some people who make me realize that there’s so much more I can do and give back as well. There are also those who have shown me what quiet strength and leadership means and to not consider is as weak.
But my personal favorite woman that has inspired me is my mother. She always told me, “Whatever you need to do tomorrow, try to do it today. When you find something is hard, try to see why it is hard, and keep trying and don’t give up.” With that mentality, she earned three master’s degrees, in Education, English literature, and Sociology.
Despite her being over the official age for retirement in India, she continues to work! It is beyond inspiring.
Brittany: With all these inspiring women that have mentored you and advised you in different ways, what piece of advice would you pass on to your younger self?
Aravinda: When I was younger, I never cared for image or perception. But as you grow your career, those things do matter – building your brand and not having a narrow mindset. Now, when I meet with people, I focus on giving them a chance to think of the big picture and learn, not purely on chasing titles. I guide folks to build good relationships, get good mentors and seize opportunities that will allow them to learn.
As you grow higher up in the ladder, a strong brand is important, and a strong network will help.
Brittany: And what do you think is the best part of your job?
Aravinda: Definitely the people. I love working with engineers and solving problems. The most exciting part is finding and tapping into that potential in each person and helping them exceed their comfort zone, which allows them to go after a problem or challenge and truly be the best they can be. It is very rewarding hearing from colleagues who have worked with me in the past to share what they did and how they succeeded.
In my role, I have an opportunity to not only influence the organization as a leader but also promote the core values across the company. Every single person within my org adds value. My role is to tap into that to build strategy while continuing to scale the org to deliver predictable results.
Brittany: That is such a great perspective. As you enjoy lending a helping hand to individuals, what advice would you give to a female trying to get into a career path like yours or in engineering specifically?
Aravinda: That the color of your skin and your gender doesn’t matter. What matters is having a solid foundation. Think about what you need to learn and stay hungry for that. At every stage of life, there is a lesson that can be learned. It’s amazing to see not only how the whole industry and technology is evolving, but what this younger generation brings to this table – from high schoolers building mobile applications to college students pursuing data science and machine learning.
Focus on continuous learning and stretch into areas you’re unfamiliar to get out of your comfort zone. Not all learning is about technical topics, broaden the horizon with industry topics while continuing to build a strong personal brand.
I would also encourage younger women to stay curious, build up the right people to help them, whether it be mentors or advocates. A solid network to help you will allow you to explore opportunities as you move across stages in your journey.
Brittany: That’s incredibly well said, Aravinda. Do you have a vision for the future of engineering?
Aravinda: Something I started at Ellie Mae was promoting women in the field of technology, and I want to continue breaking the stereotype of girls not understanding engineering early on in their career. I foresee a more diverse world in the field of engineering. We will continue to be surrounded by vast amounts of data that could drive better solutions and products. We have ways to go where we will be able to provide more intuitive solutions with artificial intelligence and machine learning. Security and Privacy will continue to remain a challenge as we continue to see more and more data at our fingertips.
I would like to a small part of that journey where we leverage technology to drive innovation but ensure that we have high efficiency, accountability and governance. I see engineering leading the charter in not only driving accuracy and speed but also strong oversight and ethics in solutions.
To check out the other blogs in Sage’s Women in Tech blog series, view:
- Women in Technology -- Melody Williams
- Women in Technology -- Stephanie Kleber
- Women in Technology -- Carmen Cooper
- Women in Technology -- Stefanie Maragna
- Women in Technology -- Amy Platt
Brittany Benson is the Senior Corporate Communications Manager at Sage Intacct.