On International Women’s Day, Interview with Woman Leader in Tech Industry
Interviewee: Rashi Khurana, Director of Engineering at Shutterstock
Q1. What is your current role?
My current job is amazing. I am a Director of Engineering at Shutterstock managing the eCommerce images site and the Contributor experience, working on both sides of the marketplace by providing a robust platform for both our customers and the contributor community we work with. Shutterstock is a leading global technology company offering a creative platform for high-quality assets, tools and services.
My day is full of face-to-face interactions, whether it is working on a tech project, dealing with a current tech challenge, leading daily scrum protocols with the teams, presenting discovery and work to a wider group of stakeholders, or checking in with my team members individually. The time in between these conversations is what I use to plan the projects, strategize on execution, and catch up on everything that requires my attention.
Q2. Why do you feel there aren’t enough women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields, specifically Technology?
I believe in engaging girls in STEM education at an early age by making an effort to instill excitement about science and math early on. I come from a family of three daughters, and luckily our parents created that environment for us from the start. My dad was into math and computers and my mom was a botanist, so she loved the sciences. Getting kids excited at an early age is very important, be it through our education system or any other means. Too many women drop out of these majors early on because of the lack of excitement.
Q3. Why should girls pursue an occupation in tech?
There are three things today that are accelerating at a tremendous pace - Globalization, Technology and Climate Change. If we want to create a balanced world in the future we need to be a part of this acceleration otherwise women will be left behind. Change is changing at a pace greater than what was projected. For instance, before the world catches up with ride sharing apps like Uber, we’ll have self driving cars, that catch-up will be obsolete. If we don’t embrace and participate now, we won’t catch-up. The industries needs women too, they think differently, they influence the culture differently, learn differently, ask different questions and contribute differently. Inequality will decrease if we actually become equal partners which will happen if more girls will embrace STEM.
Q4. What do you believe will be the biggest challenge for the next generation of women?
In the tech industry, since its so heavily male-dominated, women will face the extra onus of proving themselves. If we want to break the gender wall, we need to consistently bring our share of hard work to the table and responsibility - which may mean adjustments in personal life and new ways of thinking and doing things.
Q5. Tips for aspiring engineers
There are few things more exciting than working at a tech company where things often happen a mile a minute. It can be intense. So much is being built at this moment that was never thought of as possible just 10 years ago. It’s a great time to be a part of the disruption, to learn the science behind all the master thinking.
My advice would be:
1. Have confidence in yourself, recognize your skill sets
2. Go for it, raise your hand
3. Invest in building relationships
Q6. As a woman and a leader, how do you balance the change in dynamics in a management group that has historically been dominated by men?
Be yourself. Shape your own journey. Discover your own way of being heard and making the room for yourself at the table. You’ll see challenges arise, but make your voice heard and be persistent -- and over time that voice or that information you offered, knowledge and views that you shared will make room on the table and get you the eye contact.
Q7. What are some of the more exciting things in the future for STEM?
The future of STEM is exemplary and exponential. The world's fastest supercomputer until 2000 was ASCI Red, and it was the size of a tennis court. In 2005 Sony launched PS3 with the same amount of computing power. If Elon Musk can send people to Mars and back then maybe we will fly around the globe to get to our destinations in minutes. I also think there will be significant advances in AI and Health Care. We will soon be able to do difficult jobs like defusing a bomb using artificial intelligence and curing ailments that affect huge populations.