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    Perspectives on Women in Technology and comSpark Tech Innovation Summit by Michele Thomas-Dixon

    It seems that every few weeks we hear of another lawsuit, with news articles chock full of details about alleged treatment that may make us angry, curious, sad, and maybe even validated if we’ve had similar experiences. We’re hearing more about this now than ever. 

    Some may wonder, what’s the big deal? There are lawsuits—the courts will figure it all out. Right? Why do we need to draw special attention to this, and women? For Priya Serai, PMP, Director of Enterprise Applications and Program Management at Belcan, it’s simple.

    “In today’s day and age, every company has an IT team. Be it basic computer systems or intricate websites connecting the company’s operations, our markets cannot survive without technology. Yet, of the total IT workforce, only 33% women account for that number.

    “It’s being discussed but not discussed enough,” Priya says. “There are people who still think that women do not have the DNA make up to learn or understand technology as well as men. We need to break this cycle early on by educating our kids to be not biased, inspiring our girls to take courses in STEM, and inspiring ourselves to break that glass ceiling at work.

    “I think gender discrimination picked up in late 1900s,” Priya continues, “and it’s not limited to just IT, it’s far more widespread in other industries like in Financial, Medical, and Banking. It’s a typical cycle of revolution. Remember, we got our right to vote in US in 1920. Since then…we have come a long way…but we still have a long way to go.”

    Priya has been on that road, having held positions at various corporations, including GE, Warner Brothers, Maxim Healthcare, Standard Register, and Cengage. Now, she is Director, Enterprise Applications and Program Management at Belcan. On her resume a pattern of growth and increasing responsibility is clear, from one role to the next. According to Priya, the secret of this success is based on two things: her passion for her work and the support of her family.

    “I am very passionate about what I do,” Priya says. “Coming from a very conservative Indian family, I have faced a lot of pushback and struggles at every step in my career…from working hours to travel. The key is to not let go, to keep moving, be persistent and most importantly believe in what you do.

    “Family support is also very important as you go up the ladder, and I am very thankful to my husband for his understanding and support, tolerating my crazy work hours, foregoing weekend socials, and balancing our kid’s needs.”

    Priya talks about the personal and the professional lives, giving them equal weight. But aren’t we talking about women’s work lives? When asked about this, she explains that the home and work lives are both important.

    “If you’re passionate about your professional goals, you cannot draw a line between personal and professional. It’s not black and white. I spend on an average 60-80 hours a week at work; we sleep on an average 50 hours a week, leaving about 40 hours a week for personal life, which means we are spending almost double the time at work than at home or with family. That’s why work-life balance is such a hot topic with women.”

    When asked what advice she would give to other women, she says, “Find your passion and don’t give up on your dreams. Don’t strive for success, strive for excellence….Success eventually finds excellence.”


     

    On September 26, 1pm, at the comSpark Innovation Tech Summit in Mason, OH, Priya will chair a session dedicated to Women in Technology. A panel of women will discuss issues women address every day as well as the formation of a new Women in Technology group. Priya invites everyone to attend the session, and to join the group: men and women.

    “Women in Technology is for both men and women in technology. If you’re a professional who has achieved their goals, attend to help others achieve theirs. Be a part of our mentor panel. And if you’re a professional who has the determination to find or achieve their purpose, you should attend, as you’ll find a great set of individuals at different stages of their career and personal life that you can relate to, learn from and give back to. A lot of people get surprised by the inclusion of men in WIT, but WIT has a realistic approach at this. You’ll deal with men at work, so it’s important to understand their perspective and share yours to work together towards achieving that purpose.”

    In closing, Priya says, “WIT is not just about meeting once a quarter to discuss problems and split. WIT is about bringing the workforce together (both men and women) to practice what we discuss in everyday life. Investing in ourselves is not just about training and attending a seminar; the real education happens in dealing with the biases at work and dealing with them in a constructive manner.... bringing those experience back in our quarterly meetings and going back with the feedback.”

    To find out more about Priya and WIT, connect with Priya on LinkedIn.

    Priya Serai, PMP, is Director of Enterprise Applications and Program Management at Belcan, and will be participating in the panel discussion for the Women in Technology session at the comSpark Tech Innovation Summit, on September 26, 1pm, at the Manor House in Mason. Find more details about comSpark here.

    For those who plan ahead: Priya will be the guest speaker at the November dinner meeting at Coopers Hawk Winery & Restaurant. Register for the meeting.

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