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International Women’s Day: ‘It’s double the effort,’ women leaders in tech speak up

Written by Sneha Saha
| New Delhi |

Published: March 8, 2020 4:54:37 pm

women's day This International Women’s Day we speak to some powerful Indian women in the world of technology. (Image: Pixaby)

It takes a lot more effort for a woman to prove herself, her capabilities, than a man, especially in a country like India where majority of women stay at home and take care of the house while men go out to work. Times are slowly changing, but there still exists several workplaces and homes where men are taken more seriously than women.

This International Women’s Day we speak to some powerful Indian women in the world of technology. The tech industry is dominated by men but there are some women who are standing head to head with the men and left no stone unturned to prove themselves in this competitive space.

Upasana Taku, Co-Founder and COO, MobiKwik

“Ten years ago, when I started out, I was prepared for numerous challenges coming my way. What I was not prepared for was the reception of the society towards a woman entrepreneur. I had to face a lot of discrimination and hardships and the struggle to prove myself was twice as much as any of my male counterpart,” Taku said while talking about how difficult it was for her to begin her journey to build MobiKwik, now a very popular payment system and digital wallet in India.

After working with PayPal in the US and learning about payment systems in the Americas, Europe and Asia, risk detection & fraud management, user experience and design Taku used her expertise to start her own venture in India.

Upasana Taku, Co-Founder and COO, MobiKwik Upasana Taku, Co-Founder and COO, MobiKwik

“When I landed back in India in 2009, I started meeting people to brainstorm and discuss potential business ideas. That eventually led me to the realisation that a concept like PayPal was alien to India,” she said. But there have been incidents where Taku said she was “refused an audience for being a woman and being present without a male team member.” “In spite of the struggle I faced, I refused to falter or give up which eventually led to the success of our venture,” Taku added.

“I was determined to create an easy and seamless solution for the people. So, after navigating through the ecosystem for a bit, I and my team plunged into the sea with MobiKwik.”

Giving tips to budding women entrepreneurs, Taku said, “One key piece of advice I would like to share with the women out there is that it is very important to be inclusive in your work environment. In order to excel, you need to create a diverse work environment irrespective of gender or backgrounds so as to attract a vast pool of talent.”

Komal Agarwal, Founder & Marketing Director, Pebble

As a 20-something woman right out of university it was difficult to convince experienced, but conservative, and a bit patriarchal men in the industry to give Pebble a chance, Agarwal said. “Some of the team members were older men who took time to accept me as a manager or a leader.”

“Over the years, the situation has become much better, our work gives us credibility and speaks for itself, and it is much easier to be taken more seriously now and be respected as a business woman,” Agrawal said.

Komal Agarwal- Founder & Marketing Director, Pebble Komal Agarwal- Founder & Marketing Director, Pebble

Pebble aims to dive deeper into the category of smart wearables and launch more innovative products in the same category in the coming days. “We would also be working on Re-positioning ourselves in the market as the leading mobile accessories & lifestyle brand.” The company is aiming to penetrate into Tier2/Tier3 Cities to improve presence in Modern and General Trade and become the market leader.

Providing some tips to the budding women entrepreneurs Taku said, “being women, empathy usually comes naturally to us, but many times it is considered a sign of weakness. Due to this, we sometimes try to put up an aggressive front to over-compensate. I think empathy is a big strength for any leader at the workplace and should be applied accordingly.”

Priti Joshi, VP of Strategy, Bumble

After getting an undergraduate degree in Business Honors & Finance from The University of Texas at Austin and an MBA degree from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania Joshi worked as management consulting at McKinsey & Company before joining Bumble, a popular online dating app.

Priti Joshi, VP of Strategy, Bumble Priti Joshi, VP of Strategy, Bumble

“Today, I lead the Strategy and Analytics team that focuses on data and insights and how this can fuel growth for our business across existing and new markets. I’ve also been focusing heavily on expanding Bumble’s global presence along with developing the existing markets in over 150 countries across the globe,” Joshi said.

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Joshi said at Bumble the focus has always been about making women feel safe on the platform, which is very important for an online dating application. Bumble recently developed a feature specific to India where only the first initial of a woman’s name would show on her Bumble Date profile. When she is ready to share her full name with connections, she can – but until then, her identity is protected. “This helps to ensure that she can’t be found on other platforms by those she doesn’t want to connect with,” Joshi said.

Joshi said Bumble has invested heavily in “features designed to reinforce our mission to empower women and help end misogyny.”

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Updated: March 8, 2020 — 1:08 pm

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