Tech Career Resilience: Adapting to Change and Thriving in a Dynamic Industry
By: Tanushree Garg, Sr. Director, A.P. Moller - Maersk
Tanushree Garg brings more than two decades of experience in technology delivery, data and analytics, and ops excellence. She has been with Maersk for the last 3 years; prior to that, she has been associated with healthcare, manufacturing, and retail companies, playing different engineering roles across domains.
In the conversation with Women Entrepreneur Magazine Tanushree shares her views and thoughts on the key challenges anticipated when building a successful career in the tech industry.
How can we approach aligning technology initiatives with the overall business objectives and ensuring successful execution?
In today’s digitised world, technology is a key enabler for delivering business value. A good starting point is to jointly translate business objectives into technology initiatives, creating a shared understanding of business priorities and identifying technical initiatives for maximum impact and value creation. Joint planning and prioritisation will ensure that these efforts are recognised through cost efficiencies, better customer experience, reliability and more.
Once priorities are set, the roadmap is aligned, and KPIs are established, we normally think it is going to be easy, but it is not as then we need to ensure that execution is on track, risks are managed, changing priorities are absorbed, and the team is not over-stretched. This brings me to an activity which we reprioritise many times, “communication”. Regular communication, both ways between business and technology, helps keep each other informed on the progress, risks, and blockers, alleviates surprises and learns from mistakes.
I would say it is easier to deliver the most complex technical solution but harder to align, drive adoption and deliver the business impact for the same if it's not aligned with stakeholders, and as leaders, that becomes our job to listen to our customers and course correct or influence to get the max out of the effort.
What are the key challenges anticipated when building a successful career in the tech industry?
Building a successful career in technology is extremely rewarding but comes with its own challenges, and I wish there were a silver bullet answer. All individuals face challenges with ever-evolving technology and keeping pace with it to remain relevant in the intensely competitive environment.
While there has been progress through dedicated effort, women in technology continue to face challenges. As part of my extended role in Technology Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, we conducted a study with a diverse set of team members on a similar topic recently. While the results were not surprising, one thing which stood out for me is the perception that there is a narrow range of behaviours accepted in senior leadership roles, including rational, tough, logical, and not being emotional.
This led me to think about women role models or the lack of them, leading to accepting particular set of leadership styles to be a success recipe. I have been lucky to have strong women leaders as my role models during my career journey and break a few stereotypes; however, the underrepresentation of women in the industry leads to feelings of isolation and, many times, experiencing imposter syndrome. The good news is that DEI efforts have started paying dividends, and we need to continue the momentum.
What is an effective technique for staying motivated while dealing with the difficulties and failures that come with working in technology?
Each of us has our methods; what works for me is “resilience” and “focus”.
Resilience comes in different ways. At times, it can be taking a break and going to the mountains. Other times it can be persistence and finding that one supporter; sometimes, it’s celebrating small wins. In a way, paying attention to what is going positively and drawing energy out of it gets me through difficult times.
While resilience helps you bounce back, focus continues to drive momentum in the direction you want to progress towards. It helps you stay passionate towards your goal and visualise success by keeping the bigger picture in front of you. Keeping the focus on the goal during difficulties also helps you experiment with alternate solutions and innovate. It is important to seek support, and you will be surprised how many of your colleagues are going through similar journeys in their careers, and combined wisdom can lead to outstanding outcomes.
Please enlighten us on the most suitable method to go about learning new tools or technologies that are not familiar to people.
I am a big believer in the 70:20:10 rule. You learn only 10% in the classroom or through training, 20% from your peers and friends and 70% from what you really do on the job.
To learn, it is important to identify the “what” and “why”. Their relevance and impact should drive our learning priority to us, our job and our career aspirations.
I pick a priority for a quarter, spend time learning the basics from videos over the internet, then learn from my team or my peers a bit more on the application of that technology and then get into further details of it on my own. The intent is to build the knowledge incrementally by practising and iterating over it through implementation.
An important lesson I had from my leaders is about being humble and accepting the fact that a technology leader doesn’t need to be a “know-it-all”. It is ok to accept that I am not aware of this technology and would like to learn before my team or peers, and then the magic happens. They are more willing to support you in your learning journey and help you stay updated.