International Women's Day with Rekha Kharbanda
#ChooseToChallenge is the theme of this year's International Women’s Day, and T+T Digital Transformation Director Rekha Kharbanda describes herself as “always having been a rebel with a cause”.
“I just can’t accept the status quo - I always want to try and find a better way to do things”.
From the thrill of problem-solving, learning to connect her cause with the “business-why”, and removing gender bias in STEM, Rekha shares her thoughts below:
What sparked your interest in STEM?
What really sparked my interest in STEM is problem-solving. I’m a problem solver and love challenging myself in solving difficult things. Sometimes you don’t have all the tools or information available to solve a problem and you have to broaden your horizon. The opportunity to expand my toolkit and solving meaty problems is what fuelled my interest.
What was it like starting out in the industry?
I started as a Mainframe Developer and was excited that I got to work in America in the formative years of my career. I was just fascinated by all there was to learn and the value I can add to business decision-making.
Did you face any challenges along the way? How did you manage them?
I have always been a rebel with a cause. I just can’t accept the status quo and I always want to try and find a better way to do things. I’ve really matured along the way in learning how to connect my cause with the “Business-why”. That’s been a great learning curve for me. Learning not to do things better for the sake of doing things better, but why should you do this better. The balance between cost and value became much clearer as I matured into my various roles across organisations.
How is the industry in 2021 different from 2001? What could we do better to enable and support women in the fields of engineering and science?
I have felt there was a lack of various female role models to look up to in 2001, but there have been big changes. We are surrounded by amazing women who are leading organisations and countries to great success and prosperity. We still have our work cut out for us to remove any gender bias. This will only help create a healthy pipeline of future talent to support the demands of our sector and quality of talent we need for growth.
What advice would you give the next generation of women looking to get into STEM?
Spend time knowing your craft. Be clear in defining your value proposition or curating your value with full transparency to yourself and who you would want to communicate to. The world is waiting for you to spread your wings and be whatever you want to be - all you have to do is believe!