Each month, we ask Senior Technical Women to share their stories and what they have learned. This Senior Technical Woman Profile features Vani Vully, Senior Engineer, NetApp – India.
1. How did you decide to pursue a career in technology?
During my childhood, on my way to school, I used to pass by an engineering college. Every time I passed by the college, I was awed by the students & the campus and it became my desire to be one among them. My childhood dream became a reality when I joined this engineering college to pursue my Bachelor’s degree. Though I wanted to be an engineer, I never planned that it would be in computer science. It was my father who wanted me to pursue a degree in computer science and I am glad that I took his advice.
2. Based on your own experience, what skill(s) or characteristic(s) do you think are most important for technical women to succeed?
Problem solving skills and logical analysis are important skills for one to succeed in the technical track. It might sound like a cliché, but I sincerely believe that it is not the kind of work that matters, it is the passion with which you work that matters. In addition to that, one should have the thirst for learning new things.
3.What was the greatest challenge that you overcame in your career?
In my initial days, I was quite afraid of failing. Failing at the task given, failing when my ideas were not accepted. The fear of failure also held me back from venturing beyond the task I was given and taking additional responsibilities. Once I realized that it is OK to fail, it became easier extend my area of work and increase my responsibilities, which helped me achieve more and get to where I am.
4. How do you manage work/life balance?
Work/life balance is an on-going fine tuning task. I am keenly aware that family comes first and that is number one priority. When I had my first child, I took a break for 3 years after which I pursued my Masters. There were times when, due to family needs, work took a back seat. When that happened, I kept my team & manager informed and asked for help at work. On the other hand, I have called upon my family to help me out with the household chores when my work demanded extra attention. Having an understanding family really helps.
5. What advice would you give to women in high tech who want to advance on the management track specifically?
As I am in the technical track, I do not have any experience with the management track. But I still have two advice for women who want to advance in the management track: 1. Trust and verify 2. Treat everyone with respect.
6. How do you stay current in your technical field?
I believe that the only way to stay current is by being hands-on. I do not hesitate to try something new, even if it is not directly related to what I am working on. I realize that I can stay current only if I expand my boundaries beyond my focus area.
7. In your opinion, what (if any) are the remaining barriers faced by women in technology?
I see a lot of young women getting into technology right after college, which is a good thing. The challenge in them continuing in technology is in managing a healthy work-life balance. In India, women have more responsibility towards the family, like being a mother, taking care of in-laws and parents. This causes many women to give up their career.
Vani Vully is a Senior Engineer at NetApp. She is an individual contributor working on key components of clustered storage systems. Her role involves technical leadership and mentoring.
Vani has a Master’s of Science in Computer Science from the University of Pittsburgh and a Bachelors of Technology from National Institute of Technology, Warangal. She started her career in Wipro Systems and later worked as a consultant for EBS and AT&T. She took a break for 3 years, when her first child was born. She then completed her Masters and joined NetApp. She has been with NetApp for the last 8 years. Vani is married with two children and lives in Bangalore, India.