Welcome to the second part of our Women and Diversity in IT editorial series. This series aims to speak with women about their experience in the IT and Testing industries. Focusing on their stories, their highs and lows, their role, their advice to aspiring women testers and engineers, and who/what inspired them to pursue a career in IT and climb the ladder, we will explore what is it like for women in tech industries: from the diversity and inclusion to the challenges and successes.
Divya Pai was the Head of Performance & Testing at GVC Group.
So, we talked to Divya, to find out more about why she joined the tech industry, what was her experience, what are the challenges she faces as a woman in Testing, and her advice to aspiring women engineers and testers.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your current role?
I am a Senior Quality Management Professional with over 14 years of experience in Testing. My most recent job was as a Head of Performance & Testing at GVC Group. Prior to this, I was Heading the Performance Engineering at Ladbrokes Coral Group.
What inspired you to get involved in the IT industry?
For me, technology was and is still an industry in itself. It’s about everything you do, day in and day out. Everything is related to technology now and there are so many domains you can choose from and to work within IT and it only becomes more interesting as you grow.
Did you study STEM and if so where and what was that experience like?
I have a Bachelor of Engineering degree from India.
No, I did not have an opportunity to study STEM.
However, I think STEM is bringing in a lot of positive changes especially encouraging children at a very young age to study technology and continue being innovative. It’s reshaping the education system in a good way and giving more opportunities for young girls to get involved in technology.
What do you think of the gender diversity in testing or in general?
I think there is still a lot that needs to be done and especially in creating diverse positions within an organization. It needs to start at the very top and be balanced at every level.
Organizations need to focus on the cultural aspect and make it more women-friendly.
Have you ever been in a situation where you have felt that your gender affected the way you were perceived or treated?
Yes, at times.
Yes, with respect to career growth and the compensation factor. I think this happens a lot and probably that is why the ratio of women vs men in senior management is not quite right.
But otherwise, I have been fortunate to have worked with a great team here in the UK or back in India who have not treated the women differently in the team and there was mutual respect between team members.
What do you think are the challenges women come across in IT?
From my experience, outside of the bias, I think the greatest challenge has been to balance family life and career. As a mother, I have definitely seen how that can be difficult to manage. I think there is a need for the industry to understand and help women have the flexibility they need to carry out different responsibilities.
How do you think that can be improved?
Flexibility & trust is key. With the current situation with the COVID pandemic, I’m sure this factor has been realized and IT will adapt to a flexible way of working.
Do you have any ideas or initiatives that could benefit women working in the tech industry?
In my previous job, I have hired and trained more women in Testing. I believe that bringing in gender diversity is possible if you try to change the mindset, provide accessibility and flexibility, and more importantly encourage the women around you.
Have you helped to introduce any other women to the industry?
Yes. I had multiple such opportunities in the previous role and I utilized it right to place smart and hardworking women in my test teams.
What do you think is the best part of being a woman in tech?
Women are in general obsessed with quality and are good at creativity, so that makes us the best fit for technology that needs a perfect combination of both.
Do you have any advice for women considering a career in the tech industry?
Ladies be bold and go for it. If you do not have a female role model to look up to then be one! There is nothing you cannot do, give it your best shot and you will be amazed at what you can do.
Can you tell us a bit about your journey?
I have been a part of the testing community for the past 14 years. My journey with Ladbrokes/Coral/GVC group started in 2011. Since then I have taken up different roles and the journey was quite challenging but rewarding. I was very fortunate to have worked with great leaders who have encouraged me throughout my career.
I have got opportunities to build up new in-house testing teams, mentor, coach, train, and basically contribute in every way to the growth of the company that was going through a huge transformation.
I feel really grateful for all the opportunities that were given to me.
What is a typical day for you?
I would start my day by organizing my calendar, working with my teams to understand the urgency of the situation of the areas as we were working on different programs and most of them were multidimensional programs. Change and prioritization were constant & it was quite a challenging role that has been a great learning experience for me.
What is your favorite part of testing?
Everything about testing i.e exploring the pattern of the bugs, learning statistics from production to improve the test strategy. Making sure my team understood the big picture, what the business needs, and what the customers expect so we could give them the best product possible.
What current projects are you working on?
At the moment, I’m working with my son to explore his potential and help the little YouTuber in him grow.
In my previous job, I was Heading the testing teams on a few transformation programs with a complex combination of architecture & technologies where testing had to be innovative and risk-based. Quality was my responsibility for the existing and all-new programs.
Finally, do you have a memorable story or an anecdote from your experience you’d like to tell?
I wish I could jot it all down and refer to it time and again.
The one that I sort of feel is relevant at this stage in my career is ‘slow down to go faster’.
More in the way of thinking, in the way of being. Refocusing on strategy and leadership.