We Need More Women At Board Level Beyond Token Representation
A lot has been said on women’s representation in the technology sector over the past number of years. While the number is increasing, and at an industry level there are many initiatives and groups in place to ensure that women’s voices are heard and supported throughout their career, recent reports also show that gender equality in tech has a long way to go and the crusade for it continues. CXOToday speaks to Jaya Vaidhyanathan, President, Bahwan CyberTek, a technology evangelist, who has won multiple awards and accolades. We find out her story as well as the road ahead for women in tech.
CXOToday: Can you tell us about your professional journey? What has been your biggest challenge so far?
Jaya Vaidhyanathan: I have over two decades of international experience in leading organizations and driving a whole gamut of functions – I hold a lot of experience in Technology, Corp Finance, M&A and Risk management and product development arenas. I have prior experience as the Executive Vice President at Standard Chartered Bank leading the business operations for managing technology and strategic transformation of the Bank; there I managed a team of 10000 plus people across Wholesale Banking, Consumer Banking, Core banking and group functions. I was a Managing Partner with Accenture leading their consulting and financial services businesses. I have also handled larger global projects, including multi-billion-dollar portfolios of several Fortune 100 companies generating revenues of over $300 million. I have extensive work experience in Wall Street Investment Banking and specialized in the area of Mergers & Acquisitions.
I have enjoyed the challenges of being an entrepreneur in large corporates working on greenfield businesses that grow to be large revenue earners. For example, I handled one of the largest outsourcing deals through Household Finance Corporation in Chicago and specialized in large outsourcing deals such as the $780 Million single-vendor outsourced deal of Skandia for HCL. I am also a recipient of several global awards for innovation and business excellence including a Stevie for Best in Business, IWLF Award and Asian Business Leader’s awards.
CXOToday: What are the unique challenges Indian women leaders are facing in the field of technology? How are these challenges similar or different from their western counterparts?
Jaya Vaidhyanathan: To be leaders in the technology industry in India, one must have gone through the challenges of late nights and extensive travel. Being a pioneer of this style of work in this generation comes with its own challenges from a family and societal standpoint that could be different from their western counterparts. Attrition in middle management typically happens due to challenges on this front.
CXOToday: We do not see more women in the CIO or similar senior roles still. What needs to be done about it? Do you see things are changing for the better?
Jaya Vaidhyanathan: We need to start at the grassroots level encouraging more women to pursue STEM based learning. We see the typical tapering in middle management levels as women pursue caregiving roles in favor of career advancement. A lot of active pursuit in terms of empowerment and advancement needs to stem this ride. We will need transformation support from multiple channels such as government, organization and support networks to change the tides. Things are definitely changing for the better
CXOToday: How do you think inclusion of male executives and other board member help in reducing the gender gap?
Jaya Vaidhyanathan: We need to have more women at the board level beyond token representation as it does bring in diversity in the thought processes and a fresh perspective.
CXOToday: What would be your organization’s priorities in the next one year?
Jaya Vaidhyanathan: We have a suite of niche products in the Fintech space incorporate the latest digital technologies. These solutions are focused on addressing challenges that Banks are facing in the risk and compliance. Our products in the regtech space such as Early Warning System, Model Validation and RAROC are market leaders currently and we will be looking at growth both geographically and product suite wise for this year.
CXOToday: What are your hobbies?
Jaya Vaidhyanathan: I am a sports and fitness enthusiast – I run marathons and am a professional singer (still qualifies as a hobby!)
CXOToday: What is your advice for women CIOs and entrepreneurs?
Jaya Vaidhyanathan: “Dream big, prioritize and have the commitment in the journey to make your dreams a reality. Let go of small fights in the pursuit for your dreams.”