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Spotlight on Women Leaders at SAP: Satya Sreenivasan

Satya Sreenivasan, Developer at the SAP Innovation Center Network, leads a team of developers in Singapore working on SAP HANA projects including the award-winning SAP Medical Research Insights application.

After growing up in India and graduating from the Birla Institute of Technology and Science in Pilani with a master’s degree in mathematics, Sreenivasan earned her master’s degree in computer science from Drexel University. Although she’s been with SAP for the past three years, Sreenivasan actually worked at Sybase for almost a decade before it was acquired. She stepped away from the workforce to care for her daughter, then returned when her child’s health was restored. In this exclusive interview with SAP News, Sreenivasan talks about why she sees software development as artistry, and how the industry can attract more women.

What I enjoy most about being a developer is…
The creativity. I’m a problem-solver at heart, so the satisfaction of conveying what you want and producing something tangible that benefits people is similar to what any kind of artist experiences.

My earliest experience with technology was…
At age 13 when I discovered stacks of punch cards that the previous occupants of my new home had left behind. It sparked my curiosity until I turned on an 8-bit microcomputer in high school to learn BASIC programming.

I was lucky to be at Drexel University because…
That’s when everything exploded with Netscape, Java and other innovations. I said good-bye to mathematics, graduated with a degree in computer science, and moved to the San Francisco Bay area after graduation.

The business trend I’m obsessed with right now is…
Data science, exploring how people and business are using vast amounts of data in so many different applications. Our Medical Research Insights application is an excellent example of how connected data impacts people for the greater good.

The most important quality in technology design is…
Customer-centricity. Developers can’t just assume people will use their designs because now even business users have choices.

Satya Sreenivasan
Satya Sreenivasan, Developer at the SAP Innovation Center Network

Being in a leadership role at SAP gives me the freedom to…
Explore the business aspects of application development, and how our solutions help customers every day.

If a woman wants to move up in a male-dominated field she needs to…
Get a mentor. Whether it’s a man or woman, the right mentor will help develop leadership, networking and other skills for career advancement. 

Looking back at this era, people will remember…
How life dramatically changed through our interactions with new technologies like smartphones.

My advice for young women considering a career in high tech is to…
Embrace the opportunities that the creative element of this field offers to girls and women. We have to get beyond the geeky, macho stereotypes that favor boys and men.

I’m helping women by…
Encouraging women at SAP to participate in hackathons and take advantage of networking opportunities. I also mentor disadvantaged girls in school through the Business Women’s Network in Singapore. When I first told them I was a software developer, the girls were incredulous, saying ‘isn’t that for boys?’ Education and encouragement can help change these kinds of attitudes.

Businesses can attract more women to the technology industry by…
Giving children hands-on exposure to technology when they’re young so they can gain an understanding of what’s possible with innovations from companies like SAP. Through our programs, we’ve brought schoolchildren into SAP offices for two days where they saw how various departments operated and interacted with developers. That was an incredible learning experience for them.

One of my biggest career achievements so far has been…
Participating in a Data Discovery Challenge organized by the Singapore government. We won third place for our tourism app to help attractions manage crowds for a better experience. I’m already applying the entrepreneurship skills we learned to support our daily co-innovation with SAP customers. Developers participating in the SAP Intrapreneurship Program are also using the same skills.

The most influential role models for me have been…
My parents who have always been industrious, showing me the importance of doing your work well, and with joy and pride.

When I’m not working, I relax by…
Spending time with my family – baking, reading and riding bikes with my two little girls.

The woman who most inspires me is…
Indira Nooyi, the Chairman and CEO of Pepsi-Cola. She’s from my hometown of Chennai, India, and comes across as someone who has worked hard to lead an iconic American company. That’s deeply motivating, proof that no matter where you start from, if you work hard you can achieve your dreams.

Original article by Susan Galer