‘Soon, women will dominate the IT sector’

Smt. Harshita Vemu, Apeejay Kharghar alumna and a Decision Scientist at Mu Sigma Inc., says Accenture CEO Julie Sweet inspires her.

Harshita Vemu works in Mu Sigma Inc., a Big Data Analytics and Decision Sciences company with a Unicorn status in the US. Harshita, who holds an undergraduate degree in Software Engineering from SRM University, says the role of a Decision Scientist is to make sense of the myriad of data and to generate insights that will drive the client’s operations as well as their strategies. She has been imparting analytical insights and recommendations to Fortune 50 Healthcare clients using Machine Learning Models and Data visualisation. Harshita is skilled in Python, SQL, C++, Java, and R Programming languages and is pursuing Post Graduate Diploma in Business Analytics from BITS, Pilani, to enhance learning in the domain. In an interview, she talks about the role of the school in shaping her career, the diminishing gender gap in the IT sector, the importance of upskilling, and more. Edited excerpts:

How did you develop an interest in coding?

My interest in coding started at school. Though, I never thought at that time of making a career out of it. I spent 15 years in Apeejay Kharghar, a testament to my love for the school. I learned so much there as the teachers were extremely supportive. My Computer teacher, Pallavi Ma’am, played a crucial role to help pique my interest in coding. She used to teach the study material in such a refined manner that it made the topics super-interesting. Even my Maths teacher, Rajlakshmi Ma’am, made the subject fun for students. I had a fear of Maths before I met her. All in all, Apeejay played a crucial role in shaping my career and personality.

What’s your take on women’s representation in the tech industry?

This decade has seen an increase in women’s participation in the IT (Information Technology) industry.  Female representation in technology is growing at a healthy pace, and more women are gradually getting into tech leadership roles.  I am immensely inspired by Julie Sweet, who in 2019 became the CEO of Accenture, the global technology consulting and services giant with over $50 billion in revenue. A 2020 NASSCOM report (India’s Tech Industry: Women For The Techade) states that women constitute 35 percent of India’s technology industry. I think, soon, women will dominate the IT industry.

According to you, why does the Indian IT sector attract more women?

Due to rapid digitisation, there is a growth in demand for engineers in the IT industry. IT-BPM (Business Process Management) is the largest private-sector employer in India. McKinsey says the Indian IT industry will touch $300-350 billion in five years, so there are a lot of opportunities for women. IT companies are also pulling out all the stops to attract, engage with and retain women. For example, IT firms provide a lot of remote working opportunities, which are beneficial to a lot of married women, as it helps them balance work and home.

You are also pursuing higher education along with full-time work. How important is it to upskill yourself?

Upskilling yourself from time to time broadens your perspective and helps you keep pace with innovations in machine learning, coding, and integrating different technologies. It’s also the best way to improve your employability. There are so many free online training resources to help you upskill from home. The courses are really good and give you hands-on experience through Capstone Projects. To the uninitiated, Capstone Projects are usually courses taken toward the end of a student’s degree program that let you apply what you’ve learned. During the pandemic, the demand for digital skills such as Data Science, artificial intelligence, machine learning, cybersecurity, and cloud computing has seen a huge upswing. I would like to point out that my company, Mu Sigma Inc., encourage employees to expand their horizon as it believes in the philosophy of ‘learning over knowing.’

Your advice to freshers

If you want to become a Data Scientist, Decision Scientist, Business Analyst, or get into any other related field, the technical knowledge must be supplemented with domain expertise. Domain knowledge refers to the general knowledge of the field to which the methods of data sciences are being applied. For example, the domain could be Financial Analytics, HR Analytics, Supply Chain Analytics, Aerospace industry, Healthcare, or any other sector.  You also need to have excellent communication skills to effectively put across findings/views/solutions.

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