This article has been released on the occasion of International Woman’s Day 2022: HCL Technologies’ Diversity and Inclusion Leader Anuradha Khosla Discusses Authentic Leadership with Cisco Security Business Leader Shailja K Shankar
As a futuristic organization, HCL Technologies leverages the power of diverse teams to drive superior business results and enable innovation for its clients.
Reaffirming this deep commitment to advancing Diversity and Inclusion (D&I), HCL’s Women Connect Affinity Network presented special guest Shailja K. Shankar, Senior Vice President (SVP) and General Manager of Cisco Security Business Group.
During the session, there was a discussion on what it means to have authentic leadership in the workplace and how women working in the technology sector can accelerate their careers.
The event is part of HCL’s Feminspiration series, which seeks to bring together diverse perspectives and knowledge from successful women leaders as they reflect on relevant gender aspects in sessions with HCL employees and aspiring leaders.
Adopt Your Leadership Style – Leading With Authenticity
The event was moderated by Anuradha Khosla, SVP and Head of Diversity & Inclusion, HCL Technologies, who joined Shaila on the theme of Owning Your Leadership Style – Leading with Authenticity.
Shaila is a transformational business leader with strong executive management skills and in-depth product portfolio development experience. She prides herself on being a champion of diversity, mentoring the next generation of tech women leaders.
Own your identity
Shaila champions diverse teams, and seems to have authenticity in “what you say and mean what you say.”
He underlined the importance of individuals getting to work for their true selves and accepting their multi-dimensional identity.
A kaleidoscope of perspectives – all voices matter
Sharing an anecdote from her work experience, Shaila mentioned that once, while building a security solution for consumers, the male members of her team worked hard to enhance personalized experiences, based on their own devices, applications and bandwidth requirements. Focused on prioritizing related features.
Meanwhile, the women on her team suggested more inclusive feature recommendations, such as a separate guest Wi-Fi or about home security with notifications via Alexa to enable a better experience for the elderly at home. Build voice-enabled conversations to learn.
Having a diverse team helps organizations think of different use cases for products, ultimately helping to develop and deliver enhanced user experiences. Shaila highlights the importance of being intentional about who we choose for her work group, pointing out that diversity isn’t limited to just gender or generation—it includes ethnicity, age, and race. Diversity creates difference in thinking.
Collective opinion comes to the fore when women enter decision-making roles
Reflecting on the various milestones achieved by the tech industry in recent years, Shaila observes that awareness and acceptance of gender underrepresentation has helped transform the talent landscape of companies.
Organizations now have teams dedicated to diversity, equality and inclusion, committed to improving workplaces through increased participation of women at all levels.
Today, the boards of businesses realize that collective opinion comes to the fore when women enter decision-making roles. Having advocated for women’s representation on boards and the provision of parental leave, Shaila says she is happy to see this increasingly happening across industries today.
Active inclusion avoids accidental exclusion
About 30 years ago, Shaila was an immigrant looking to fit into a new culture and work environment. When asked if there’s anything she would do differently today or give advice to her younger self, Shaila shares this gem of advice: “When you’re invited to discussions, your organization of perspective respected by. You have a seat at the table because you have valuable insight to offer. Speak while you’re there instead of writing an email before or after the meeting.”
Shaila suggests ladies should take it when it’s time for you to shine!
During the discussion, HCL talked about effective leadership styles while working with diverse team members. Shaila said that while some may be more outspoken than others, people across the world have similar concerns, aspirations and desires.
Shaila encourages taking a genuine interest in getting to know people, as it allows you to connect with them more easily, and it gives them a chance to see who you are as a person. In Shaila ‘s words, people “always care about those who care.”
Leading the Hybrid World with Authenticity
Highlighting some of the key characteristics of authentic leadership, Shaila emphasized on the following:
- You don’t need to know all the answers
- Give your ego a day off and really show your teams
- listen and be involved in decision making
- Be clear about the ‘why’ of your decisions and communicate that reasoning
- A regular communication rhythm is key to ensuring that everyone feels involved in the cause.
- Adopt a servant-leader style – This is a strong leadership style that puts the needs of others above your own and focuses on how you develop people
- Be a little more flexible – an important aspect, especially with teams working remotely
Advice to young aspiring women leaders to accelerate their technical career
Shaila highlights some of the key aspects that aspiring women leaders should keep in mind while climbing the career ladder:
Clear communication skills are important, no matter what your field, and allow you to better present your thoughts and ideas.
Have a three-year roadmap and be prepared to share plans with your support group, including family and coworkers
Build a network of supporters and peers that you are open to learning from – regardless of specific needs
Talent opportunities shaping the way forward in tech industry
Shaila advocates for the rapidly growing cyber security business and advises technology enthusiasts to join the industry. She notes that the IT industry, which includes cyber security, has 4 million unfinished jobs, mostly in research and security roles, and she sees plenty of talent opportunities for data scientists, cloud and UX professionals.
She shares that cyber security is one of the areas where professionals work towards creating a better and more secure space – it combines a personal cause with a professional opportunity for those wanting to make a positive impact. Is.
Shaila feels that stakeholders have a responsibility to “build talent and help develop that talent.” Today, we see organizations actively engaging with universities on dedicated cyber security courses and other programs.
Break the Bias in the tech world
Shaila acknowledged that, “we all contribute as much to prejudice as we are on the receiving end of it.” It is a journey of learning. We should let people know more about cognitive biases and make sure we examine ourselves when we are engaging with other people.
The organization needs to enable an environment that is free from bias. As professionals, we must strive to be better versions of ourselves, especially for underrepresented groups – it is important to overcome those biases.
Managing the juggle
According to Shaila, “Work-life balance is a myth.” However, she shared a meaningful finding for all aspiring women leaders – “At any point in time, ask yourself what is the most important, impactful and urgent work you have to do in that time frame (day, month, quarter, year). Also, weigh in if you can delegate or outsource parts of your work at work and at home.”