From an early age growing up in India, Vedika Dalmia knew she wanted to pursue a career in engineering and computer science. With support from her family and teachers, she eventually left the country to study computer science at the University of Surrey in Guildford, England. After graduation in 2012, she joined Bloomberg in London as a software engineer. “Computer science was always a field in which you knew you could excel and do well for yourself, in India or abroad,” Dalmia says.
As Global Head of Engineering Developer Experience at Bloomberg in New York City, Panna Pavangadkar focuses on advancing the careers and entrepreneurial interests of women in engineering. She says Dalmia’s experience is typical of many Indian women who are “looking for challenging roles in computer science and challenging the status quo” in the male-dominated tech industry. Pavangadkar will be a featured panelist talking about ‘Real world examples of open source’ and the InnerSource movement at Bloomberg during this year’s Grace Hopper Celebration India (GHCI) in Bangalore (December 7-9, 2016).
With 2,500 attendees expected, GHCI is India’s largest gathering of women technologists. The meeting in India follows the annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, which convened this past October in Houston with more than 15,000 participants, including many Bloomberg representatives. The Grace Hopper Celebration, or GHC, honors the event’s namesake, Grace Hopper (1906-1992), a pioneer in computer technology.
Pavangadkar was raised and educated in India, but left the country in 1999 to pursue her career. Before joining Bloomberg in 2014, she held jobs in both Singapore and New York, at companies including JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs. Today, she is involved in many company initiatives aimed at helping women advance in technology through mentoring, coaching, networking, recruiting and leadership training.
One such initiative, the Bloomberg Women’s Community (BWC), connects and supports employees through relationship building and career development opportunities. Within the BWC, the Bloomberg Women in Technology (BWIT) specifically promotes leadership and connects with young women pursuing STEM educational and career paths. “I want to encourage younger women to experience a company like Bloomberg that has a level playing field and promotes equal opportunities,” Pavangadkar asserts.
Lalitha Chandrasekar, a senior engineer, came to Bloomberg London after completing her education in India and working there for seven years at software and telecom companies. She recognizes that Bloomberg has a diverse workforce and provides a collaborative and positive environment for everyone to succeed. Policies such as a generous maternity leave, flexible work arrangements, and HR programs encouraging women to take up leadership positions help women “grow their careers, while maintaining a good work-life balance,” Chandrasekar declares.
The India conference attracts women in academia and industry, as well as students. Many attendees are already employed, entering or re-entering the workforce, and don’t want to settle for a back-office job in technology, according to Pavangadkar. Bloomberg offers them unique opportunities as a meritocracy that bases advancement on “what you bring to the table,” she says. As a result, employees can “develop their engineering skills, devise creative solutions and be recognized for their accomplishments.”
The company does this by making it possible for women to publish research papers, participate in conferences and engage in both open source and InnerSource projects. Mentoring relationships can help women “break out of their own shell,” as Pavangadkar puts it, recalling similar hurdles she faced early in her career, and make it easier to showcase their work.
Bloomberg’s London office is appealing to many women technologists from India as a first job outside of their country. Compared to New York, the flight back home is shorter and the time difference is much less drastic. “Telling parents you are moving to the U.S. is harder because it is a much bigger commitment,” Pavangadkar points out.
Dalmia, now a Senior Software Engineer, says she chose London because of its attractive lifestyle and vibrant international community. “As a woman, it is really easy to be independent here,” she says. Three years ago, Dalmia helped establish the BWIT group in London, setting up mentoring programs, hosting networking events, and traveling to British and European universities to speak with women about careers in technology and recruit them for Bloomberg’s London Engineering teams.
When she began interviewing job candidates, Dalmia participated in Bloomberg’s unconscious bias training, which all interviewers at the company go through. Rolled out over the past few years, the course is designed to minimise unconscious bias that occurs not only during the interview process, but also throughout an employee’s tenure. “It was really interesting to see the kinds of biases we are all susceptible to, and how to ensure they don’t negatively influence our decisions, during hiring and in our day jobs,” she notes.
Increasingly, women technologists at Bloomberg say they are less likely to be the only female in the room. In addition, more men are engaging in the conversation about gender diversity, underscoring this not just being a “woman’s problem,” but a company-wide goal. “There is nothing holding you back or stopping you here,” Chandrasekar insists. “And you can take part in work that is exciting and makes a real difference.”
Learn more about software engineering roles with Bloomberg in London.