In India, the IT industry has created more opportunities for women than any other industry: Seema Ambastha, NTT-Netmagic
Hard work and dedication have helped Seema Ambasta, SVP – India & Global Business– NTT-Netmagic rise above many of her male counterparts over the course of the last 30 years and today she has a place in the company board. In an interview with Express Computer, she describes some of the key challenges that she has faced in her illustrious career, and how she has managed to carve her own niche in the competitive IT industry
Some edited excerpts:
Knowing that gender biases exist, how difficult is it to be a woman and thrive in your specific field?
Gender bias is far more deeply rooted than we may realize. At an unconscious level, there is a prevailing assumption that men are more closely associated with their professions, and women are associated with family. This belief often prevents women from advancing in the career field, more so in the world of technology.
Today, a lot of companies in the IT sector are making special efforts to hire women, but, they don’t show even half of that zeal in providing them equal opportunity. In Indian context, the IT industry has created more opportunities for women than any other industry. However, barring a few companies that have overcome the gender bias at work, most organizations are still not focusing adequately on creating equal opportunities for their female workforce.
What role do you think technology plays in contemporary times?
In this digital age, technology is playing a crucial role in every walk of our personal and professional lives. The impact of technology has become even more visible in the wake of the ongoing global pandemic. Education has become completely digital at present, and we are seeing a lot of digital and remote technology integration in the field of healthcare. Doctor consultations and communication are being held online. Companies across diverse industries are now fully or partially dependent on cloud and internet based remote working.
As a major player in the data center and cloud verticals, Netmagic is witnessing a lot of demand for tech integration from almost all sectors, and this demand is only going to grow in the foreseeable future. Overall, I think technology is now playing the role of ‘facilitator’ in our lives especially in education, communication, finance and even in the governance sectors.
Can we rely on technology solely to be the panacea for all problems? If so, how?
Technology has definitely become integral to our daily lives now, and its impact will keep growing in different areas. However, it is not the sole panacea for every problem. The ideal solution or panacea is to integrate technology in such a way that we are able to create an optimum balance of AI and human intelligence. We need to work in tandem with technology to resolve the major issues. For instance, in the world of medical science, we have cutting edge digital diagnostic tools and robotic surgery machines. AI integration is taking place in the areas of patient data analysis and monitoring. However, technology can’t take care of everything on its own. There has to be the hand that holds or directs the scalpel. The case of education is also similar. Despite the digital education tools, audio visual aids and computers, teachers are still needed to decide what learning is best for the children. Technology has a predictive and analytical system of operation, but, to manage the unforeseen situations or to deal with peculiar circumstances, there will always be a need for a perfect balance between automation and human effort.
What are the immediate and long term milestones for your company like?
The prevailing pandemic situation has drastically changed the market demands. In the immediate term, we are focusing on helping our client businesses smoothly adapt to the new scenario. We are offering a number of services and tools including remote working solutions to our clients. These tools have been really beneficial for the clients who had to suddenly migrate to the work-from-home processes after the pandemic related restrictions were enforced. We have created solutions such as remote login without VPN to address the data security concerns of such clients. Not only that, we are also offering Security as a Service (SaaS) solutions to our clients since data protection has become a key concern now. In the new scenario, employees login from different locations and device types. Our aim is to provide enterprise level security and round-the-clock threat management for our clients. Towards this end, we have created technologies such as VDI and VDI infra for the remote workforce. We are also offering various cloud specific services such as Multi-cloud monitoring and managed services, Cyber-security and Security Solutions for cloud.
There has been a tremendous rise in demand for cloud storage and network bandwidth, and we are glad to state that NTT has ample capacity in place to meet the current as well as future demands of our clients.
COVID-19 has fundamentally reshaped how companies across private and public sectors operate, Our priorities are to align to client needs, our immediate focus is enhancing our public cloud capacity to meet growing demand, creating innovative VDI solution for remote working, cyber security and threat detection and mitigation, Brand protection, Forensics and DC capacity for large hyperscale consumption
Challenges are an inevitable part of the business. Could you highlight on some you had encountered?
I have achieved personal growth in the management value chain through a great amount of hard work and effort. There are times when I have to even give up my personal priorities to achieve my goals. There are a number of challenges that I had to overcome. During the early days the challenges were related to work-life balance and a skewed diversity ratio at the workplace. There was a lack of empathy at work during those days.
After spending a few years in the industry, I faced a different set of challenges such as lack of inclusivity and equal opportunity for women. There was the inherent bias at play often which treats women as outsiders in the workplace.
Nonetheless, I took things in my stride and focused on making progress in my academic and professional pursuits. My hard work and dedication have helped me rise above many of my male counterparts over the course of the last 30 years and today I have a place in the company board.
How can we have more women joining the bandwagon?
There is no job that is exclusive for men. Women are also equally capable at the workplace. However, there are certain things that women must do to stay above the competition at all times. For instance, women should focus on specialization and not become a generalist. They have to seek senior allies and do the homework thoroughly. Another important thing to do is to model one’s expectations tangibly and in the right direction. Last, but, not the least, a woman should never hesitate to speak up. These are things which can enhance the chances of more women joining the bandwagon.
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