Women’s Day: Dell Technologies’ Srikripa Srinivasan on Women in Tech

By Jayesh Shinde | Published 08 Mar 2023 08:50 IST
Women’s Day: Dell Technologies’ Srikripa Srinivasan on Women in Tech

I interviewed Srikripa Srinivasan, Vice President, Dell Global Analytics, Dell Technologies, on the occasion of International Women’s Day to learn about her career journey as a woman in the tech industry. Srinivasan’s responses spell out some of the challenges and opportunities for women in tech in India and beyond. Edited excerpts follow:

Can you describe your journey to becoming a tech industry leader? What were some of the biggest challenges you faced?

I have been with Dell Technologies for close to a decade now, in multiple roles like auditing, accounting and reporting, operations and finance, compliance and investigations, to now being the VP for Dell Global Analytics.

The biggest driver for women to succeed in the technology industry is the right mentorship, guidance and the constant hunger to learn. Women need to recognise and unleash their potential with the support from their families, colleagues, mentors and the leaders. Being the VP for Global Analytics, I have never been based out of the HQ, which initially was a challenge as to how do I continue to stay relevant and deliver results. I had to develop the right network of allies and connect with the right leaders for guidance, which helped me to deliver continuous impact.

Throughout my career, I have seen women often drop out from work for multiple reasons. Sometimes, work hours are difficult, they get married, have children, and don’t know how to deal with the changes in their body cycle. At Dell Technologies, we have several initiatives and programs to ensure our women are thriving in their careers at all stages of life. Dell focuses on nurturing women team members across levels and departments. Our ‘Return to Work’ program helps women re-enter the workforce after a prolonged career break for personal reasons. This also helps with skills training, both technical and non-technical to enable women achieve their best. Another initiative we have is creche facilities where parents can bring their kids to work, especially for working mothers. I strongly believe when companies invest in every employee’s growth and development, great things are bound to happen.

What steps have you taken to ensure a diverse and inclusive workplace, and what have been some of the outcomes of these efforts in terms of impact?

Dell Technologies is a ‘People First’ organisation, focusing on the wellbeing of all its team members. Diversity is in our DNA. Moreover, Dell is committed to diversity and inclusion not only because it’s the right thing to do but because it’s core to our business imperative. We embrace differences that drive innovative solutions for our customers, making us a market leader. 

We also aim at developing women across our global operations and especially in technical positions and leadership roles. We always work towards fostering an environment where people want to work, team members feel they belong, and our inclusive values reflect those of our customers and our communities. In fact, we not only hire a good and diverse mix of team members but also encourage them to leverage our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). ERGs enable our team members to drive initiatives to support gender diversity, generational diversity and cultivate a more comfortable environment. These communities are meant for employees to connect on common interests and causes such as gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and backgrounds. 

The Women in Action ERG is an initiative to enable women to grow and thrive in their career at Dell. As part of this, several programs help women build a strong network, get mentoring from experts to learn more and broaden their perspectives, as well as opportunities to lead. These programs work to identify key objectives that enable women employees to grow and reach their intended goals successfully. We even have an inclusive hiring framework. If we want to hire somebody at any position externally or internally, we ensure that at least two women are shortlisted amongst the top 5. Our talent acquisition team even ensures that the panellists comprise of women, who conduct the interview process. 

However, while the industry is doing its best in terms of achieving both equality and equity, we need to understand that quantifying equity is difficult. We need to realise that our journey with equality and equity is a continuous process and can never really be 100 percent achieved. Hence, it is important for us to ensure that we are working towards both equality and equity at the same time and with the right balance. Our culture is defined by these values and made real every day by how we work and lead.

Can you share an example when you had to navigate a difficult situation or decision as a leader? How did you approach it?

The nature of my work demands me to build synergies with my team members spread across the globe. At Dell, a lot of our leaders have their team members and stakeholders spread across different regions, so to maintain the right team balance and ensure optimum results in terms of our solutions, is a situation I have learnt over time through our virtual and ‘Connected Workplace’ setup. Another important thing we need to pay attention to is patience. While agility is an important parameter at Dell, with my team located in different time zones, it is vital to be patient, allowing them to think innovatively and deliver the best of results. We need to enable our team members to work efficiently in diverse, remote and hybrid environments, which will definitely deliver best solutions for the company and its customers.  

How do you stay current with emerging technologies and industry trends, and what resources do you rely on?

Staying updated with emerging technologies is quintessential for success especially in an industry like technology which is constantly evolving. Networking and building strong industry relationships helps one stay abreast of any industry developments. Our smartphones are the best source, we just need to use it intelligently. Moreover, reading never goes out of date. I strongly believe one must be an ardent reader to excel in their respective field of expertise. I also highly recommend teams to regularly have knowledge sharing exercises which is an excellent way to build a learning culture within organisations. 

What's your approach to mentorship and supporting development of future leaders in the Indian tech ecosystem?

An organisation is as strong as its leadership, as every team member experiences the organisation through their leader. A leader who reflects the core values of the company and drives an inclusive environment sets the right tone for the organisation. 

At Dell Technologies, it’s all about inspiring our people. This is why, we are continuously allocating resources that shape leaders of tomorrow, to get the very best from their teams. To cultivate leadership skills at all levels of our organization, from team members to first-time people managers to our executives, Dell has developed end-to-end development programs. TechEDGE is once such program, for mid-career technologists to shape them into technology leaders who can inspire younger technical talent and become thought leaders in future. The program is a perfect blend of enhancing technical expertise as well as leadership skills. 

Another unique way of discovering and nurturing this next generation of leaders is through our Technical Leadership Community (TLC). For more than three decades the pan Dell-organization, engineering-focused Technical Leadership Community (TLC) program has been promoting innovation and building a culture of high standards and continuous improvement. The program offers future technical leaders key developmental opportunities via networking, collaboration, leadership development and meaningful recognition. It also promotes a collaborative spirit among the broader engineering community and reinforces Dell as an industry innovator and thought leader. 

We also have The Director Leadership Program and Advanced Leadership Experience Program to equip senior team members with the skills, information and the framework that is required to grow in their own careers while also driving the organization’s growth. As we continue to work towards advancing sustainability, cultivating inclusion and transforming lives, programs like these are building technical experts and leaders of the future, enabling us to create a positive and lasting impact on humankind and the planet. We are defining what inclusive leadership means at Dell, from awareness of biases and how they can affect culture, to being collaborative and culturally intelligent. We integrate inclusive principles and practices into all our leadership development programs and training.

Can you discuss a specific example of how a more diverse and inclusive workforce has helped drive innovation and business success within the company?

With a strong foundation of diverse talent, we are well positioned to drive innovation across our vast product portfolio and business. Building a diverse workplace is no longer just the right thing to do. This is a business imperative that provides growth value and innovation to create the required technological solutions. 

Through our Culture Code and People Philosophy, we are creating a culture where our people feel empowered to achieve more, have a sense of balance, are connected with those around them and accepted for who they are. When people work in an inclusive culture where they can be their authentic selves, they're able to innovate and feel that their contributions matter. Diverse thoughts and experiences combined with an accepting, collaborative workplace leads to truly meaningful work.

The role of my team is to analyze and make sense of the raw data to gain insights on consumer emotions, their behaviours and the trigger points on why they want to buy any particular product or solution. This raw data is groomed to make it relevant for us to derive new insights for our sales and product teams to understand the market demand and outlook. At Dell Technologies, our target audience is spanned across various regions, age groups and different backgrounds. With our teams comprising of people from diverse backgrounds and across all levels, we are well-equipped to understand our diversified customers. 

Specifically, to Dell Global Analytics, we look at ourselves as a microcosm of the whole country, so to understand sentiments of our wide-ranged population, it is important for us to have the same representation in our team. We need to have a well-integrated workforce to reach the intended output. 

How have you seen the tech industry in India evolve, and what do you see as some of the biggest opportunities for growth in the future?

Technology is an ever-evolving space and is transforming industries across India. It is expected that technology is likely to advance in the subsequent years. Moreover, the technological innovation that drives human progress is accelerating. With hyperconnectivity spanning multiple cloud environments and the edge, data is everywhere now. In the coming years, it is expected that technology will make lives easier, simpler, and businesses more successful. At Dell we believe that technologies like telecom, edge-computing and multicloud along with as-a-service consumption model will contribute to long term business success and growth. 

The foundation for all these technologies is the right talent pool, which is already available in India and is continuously growing. At Dell, we significantly invest in training programs to continuously upskill our team members and enable the workforce for the future. 

By harnessing the transformative power of technology, businesses can build more secure digital foundation needed to be ready for what’s next.

What advice would you give to women who aspire to leadership roles in the tech industry, particularly in India?

As I mentioned above, when it comes to women, they sometimes drop out from their roles for various reasons in the whole pyramid. They might find the work hours difficult because of their responsibilities outside work. Their body cycles also change at some point in time, which makes it difficult for them. 

I want to tell all the women out there to think differently. There will be new roles, constantly changing environments, difficult decisions, but women need to come out stronger and overcome the challenges.  At Dell Technologies, we recognize that life is bigger than work and we are committed to enabling women to grow and thrive by giving access to opportunity, balance and fulfillment, connection with the world around them and most of all to be included so that they can reach their full potential. 

My mantra and the advice I would like to give is, people need to spend half an hour reading about a topic of interest for 30 days in a row, which could lead to becoming an expert on that topic.

I would also say that look at the career like a test match. If you want to have a career and a life, balance it out saying these are my work hours, these are the weeks I need to play a T20, and on others, I might have to look at it as a one-day match, and there are some weeks where I have to play it like a test match – be with children and rest of the family.

Jayesh Shinde
Jayesh Shinde

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