As a part of the Women in Engineering Day week, Express Computer has interviewed eminent personalities from the technology space to give more perspective on how women are thriving in this industry.
A dream of making India a superpower and an extreme passion for science and engineering, Express Computer gets in an exclusive conversation with Jaya Vaidhyanathan, CEO of BCT Digital (Bahwan CyberTek group) to understand her journey better.
Jaya has worked extensively on starting rt360 which is a risk management portfolio for Fintech and joined BCT to kickstart their Fintech initiatives. The product portfolio now addresses all types of risks a bank faces such as Model Risk, Operational Risk, Technology Risk, and Liquidity Risk. The product is coupled with AI, RPA, and blockchain.
Knowing that gender biases exist, how difficult is it to be a woman and thrive in your specific field?
We have to go a long way to achieve the status of gender neutrality. Women have to work twice as hard to prove themselves. The only way to get a seat at the board room is to be exceptionally good at what you do. While we all have priorities, women seem to have much more on their plate both at work and home, so keeping the focus is critical to success. The only way to get over is to look at each challenge as a stepping stone to grow. Be irreplaceable.
What role do you think technology plays in contemporary times in the BFSI Industry?
Technology is the backbone for everything that we do today, and BFSI Industry is no exception. There are significant issues at a national and global level that is confronting the BFSI industry – for instance, Non-Performing Assets (NPA). To manage a problem of this magnitude requires sophisticated and disruptive technologies like AI to dissect diversified data from various sources. In the case of NPA, real-time alerts are essential for the BFSI industry. The decision-making process must be shortened to split-seconds synthesizing technology.
In the past, we have looked at data through limited sources such as core banking, loan origination, etc., to name a few. However, to tackle large scale issues like the NPA, the quantum of data is enormous. A few human beings can’t comprehend and make intelligent decisions within a short span. Technologies like Early Warning System that uses AI, today can quickly ingest the data and provide insights and alerts that can be accessed on digital mediums and in formats that are easy for human consumption. Data includes information from credit bureaus, real-time alerts on corporate actions, etc., through digital sources that synthesize huge volumes of not just structured but unstructured data sources as well, thereby making technology inevitable in decision making. An AI or ML propelled technology layer can analyze three thousand different data points arriving at decisions based on intelligent pattern matching accurately within microseconds. Therefore, I believe that technology is irreplaceable and a crucial component of the BFSI industry.
Can we rely on technology solely to be the panacea for all problems? If so, how?
Technology solely cannot be the panacea for all evils. It is perhaps an enabler for intelligent application from strictly a domain perspective. We need to be technology agnostic. It may seem paradoxical to my response to the previous question. However, the fact remains that how we use technology broadly depends on our domain expertise. Once we know what we require, then we look out for appropriate technology levers we can use to get to where we want. In my opinion, technology is a means to an end and is not a panacea to all problems.
What are the immediate and long-term milestones for your company?
As a company, we have been ardent advocates of being local for vocal. A few years ago, we developed a suite of products in India, uniquely designed to address the country’s problems. Not only have we taken our products made locally to a global center stage but also the various economies of GCC & US. We continue to upgrade existing products and build new products for India that is scalable to global markets.
Challenges are an inevitable part of the business. Could you highlight some you had encountered?
I believe that every innovative idea goes through a challenging phase of acceptance. Our initial challenge was with early adoption. However, once we crossed the chasm, the growth was exponential. In my experience, I have come to understand that this is a challenge for every new idea or innovation and not limited to us. To cite an example, we faced considerable resistance in the Indian eco-system when we introduced our suite of products, as both the idea and company were new. Qualifying a public sector RFP in India requires several criteria and parameters. Having repeatable references within the industry is a challenge not only for us but for all companies following the same path to success. To summarize, early adoption is challenging, and it is a rewarding experience once you overcome this phase.
If you are a Founder & CEO, it is always more challenging because you are selling your dreams and recruiting people to make believe those dreams. You take up a huge responsibility not only in recruitment but also in ensuring that the vision stays put and sees through success. Challenging factors can be many, ranging from early adoption by customers, to recruiting the right employees and getting an efficient team in place, to getting the right investors on board and getting your shareholders to get to buy your dreams. Indeed, it is most definitely glorious when you succeed.
How can we have more women joining the bandwagon?
Statistically speaking, there has been a phenomenal rise in the number of women joining engineering colleges in India as compared to two decades ago. However, we have what we refer to as the revolving door syndrome. To be more specific, once we recruit bright and young women at the entry stage, we invariably end up losing them through the middle-management layers. Eventually, there are very few women at the top. I believe that we should be focusing more on how to get women to stay in the bandwagon rather than just getting them to join it. Realistically there is no magic pill or one-stop solution that educates on what we need to do. Active interventions from the entire eco-system like family, society, the government, the company, etc., are required to make this a viable solution.