On the occasion of International Women’s Day, I had the opportunity to interview Rituparna Mandal, General Manager, MediaTek Bangalore, on her journey to become a distinguished woman in tech. Here she shares her experiences and insights on (un)changing attitudes towards women joining the tech industry workforce, and some of the challenges and opportunities ahead of the industry as a whole. Edited excerpts follow:
My journey in the tech industry began with Texas Instruments, which I joined in 1997, fresh out of college. After 16 years of honing my skills at TI, I started my own semiconductor company, Immensa Semiconductors. I joined MediaTek after the company acquired my start-up and I have had an enjoyable and immensely fulfilling career here. Throughout this journey, I have focused on keeping my core principles intact, while being open to change and adapt. My capability to adapt to change and never take anything for granted has helped me tremendously in this journey.
There have been several challenges during this journey and I believe I have thrived on crisis management. During my stint at MediaTek, while developing the MediaTek Helio P60 and GT90 chipsets, we were working round the clock to meet aggressive goals and sometimes it would seem impossible, but we did manage to come out victorious. The most challenging part of my career was, probably, running my start-up as I built it from scratch and had to deal with everything from setting up the office, infrastructure, hiring, business development to actual project execution and I learned new skills every step of the way.
The Indian tech industry has undergone tremendous transformation over the last couple of decades and I have been fortunate to have witnessed the changes through my own career. The tech industry has evolved rapidly, in line with changing business needs and customer requirements, as well as global demands, and India has now managed to carve a niche for itself, in the global tech ecosystem. The COVID pandemic also accelerated the speed of technology adoption, making it more widespread than ever before. Going forward, some of the biggest opportunities for growth include new age innovations like 5G, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, metaverse, IoT and machine learning, as these solutions have the power to disrupt the world as we know it.
Since inception, MediaTek has been a strong believer in equal opportunities, irrespective of gender, and we provide a platform for all engineers to shine and demonstrate their capabilities. Throughout the industry, we have noticed that though many women enter the workforce at the beginning of their careers, several of them discontinue their jobs owing to different life-events that make it difficult to maintain a balance. Accordingly, MediaTek has taken steps to sustain and grow the percentage of working women, such as conducting up-skilling programs that help motivate and support the employees, offering leadership training modules within the company and encouraging our women colleagues to participate in conferences and seminars that help them develop their capabilities. This has enabled us to create a workforce consisting of a significant percentage of women.
One of the most difficult situations I dealt with, at MediaTek, was, undoubtedly, the pandemic. Given the huge surge in demand for innovative technologies and products, we were hard-pressed to pull up our timelines and deliver nuanced products in a short time-frame. Add to it the challenges created by work-from-home and I can say that this was a trying time for all of us. As a leader, my approach was focused on the mental and physical well-being of my colleagues, along with meeting the deadlines, as MediaTek strived to foster a resilient working system for all of us. Even when we were working round the clock to meet aggressive goals, we ensured that every employee and their families were taken care of, and this helped us maintain our productivity and dedication.
My constant endeavour, in both my career and personal life, is to stay curious and relevant. With technology moving at such a fast pace, it is critical to learn how to adapt, and this ability has helped me remain relevant in the face of emerging technologies and industry trends. I have also worked on extending my knowledge base. I believe that getting in is relatively easy – staying in is the hard part but, in the end it is really worth it. And there are several tools & platforms available today that share the latest updates & technology advances.
As a corporation, MediaTek believes in investing in the growth and development of our employees and we place strong focus on mentorship and enabling the development of future leaders capable of shaping the evolving Indian tech ecosystem. We train the future workforce through a two-pronged program which involves partnering with external teams and creating internal training modules. We also partner with third party vendors on creating internal training assets and offer our employees internal e-learning platforms for upskilling. To promote leadership attributes, MediaTek offers soft skills and leadership training sessions on our platform and when our employees reach lead positions, we provide them technical training sessions relevant to their responsibilities. Mentorship and leadership training is supplemented with tech talks within teams and across teams, in an attempt to boost motivation and productivity.
I have been very influenced by the women pioneers in technology, and I continue to be surprised and motivated by the tremendous drive and determination exhibited by the women I see around myself. In terms of advice, I swear by the motto ‘stay relevant and keep learning’. It is necessary that aspiring women leaders keep up with the change, since the world is evolving so fast. Work on making yourself relevant for today and future-ready for tomorrow. Maintain a thirst for learning, know your surroundings, foster a genuine spark of interest and be passionate about what you do, for these traits will surely make you an expert in any field you choose.