The tides are turning; the gender gap in the age of technology is shrinking. But there is one fact that is hard to ignore: Women are by far more likely to be in junior positions than men, regardless of age. Researches have revealed that over 20% of women beyond the age of 35 are still in junior positions. It is a common overview of the global technology workforce that women are vastly underrepresented and underappreciated. Some may argue against and some in favor.
One woman, however, Sonal Puri, chose her own path to success and has been leading in the technology industry since then. With almost two decades of experience in internet infrastructure and four start-ups to her credit, Sonal was recently awarded by “Women of the Decade in Technology and Internet Infrastructure 2018” at the Women Economic Forum in Delhi.
Sonal is the Chief Executive Officer of Webscale Networks, an e-commerce cloud and web application delivery company. Put simply, Webscale offers simple and effective ways to manage compute resources, performance and cost when moving an e-commerce business to the public cloud. It is an Indian talent-led US company, headquartered in Silicon Valley, with an R&D and support office in Boulder, Colorado and a sizable office in Bangalore.
About her plans on expansion and focus on the Indian market, Sonal says, “We are on a fast-growth path and we are seeing significant interest in our solutions in multiple geographies with India being a major focus. Our Bangalore office is now our largest and we expect to continue to invest significantly into the region over the next few years, both to focus on the Indian market, as well as to create a center from which to focus on the APAC region and support our global customer base.”
Very modestly, she explains the feeling of being one of the leading women in the technology landscape in India by saying, “The technology landscape is evolving quickly and even though there are fewer women involved in the segment, which is changing with the current level of awareness. It feels good to be a part of a strong team working with me to make us successful. Women in general, and in particular, have a long way to go in our journey.”
The clout of women in the IT industry is definitely growing but is still a minority. With the evident disparity in the gender ratio, Sonal talks about the presence of the tech industry's gender discrimination. “It is fair to say that there is still a tremendous imbalance in the numbers at every stage of business today. This is particularly noticeable in executive ranks and boardrooms. I have been fortunate to work with some of the most forward-thinking investors, mentors and co-workers throughout my career, many of them, men. I have certainly experienced a handful of situations where gender played a role, but sidestepping it and choosing to take the longer route has worked just as well.”
Sonal believes that other than the sporadic gender stereotyping, the top challenges that women face in the tech industry are not very different from the ones faced by all tech executives and include, “balancing work and life, learning to say no to anything that is not critical to work and life success, keeping up with changes in technology and remaining relevant, evolving your leadership style, technology expertise in overall career, and building a network across other executives, investors and mentors for mutual success.”
Sonal has come a long way to reach the tipping point in her life where she is at today. Now that she is currently with Webscale, her fourth startup, the biggest challenges in each startup, she believes, have been product-market fit and then the revenue growth. “SaaS businesses take longer to build in the early years but can become very successful. Everyone has been a journey with plenty of opportunity and valuable lessons, but 18 years of experience across sales, marketing, product and corporate development have helped me prepare for this position.” she adds.