Raising Our Hands in Honor of International Women’s Day

Breaking barriers and challenging the status quo is what we’re all about! In honor of International Women’s Day, we asked members of the VMware SD-WAN team about the women who have inspired them in their careers, what diversity and inclusion mean to them, and their advice for future women in tech. Check out what they had to say.

What advice do you have for women looking to develop a career in tech?

Laurel Beyers, Staff Product Designer

Just because you don’t have a past in tech, doesn’t mean you can’t have a future. If there’s one thing I’ve had reinforced in my own career journey is that my diverse background from theater to bartending has given me a unique perspective and solid skill set that has supported me, in my career in tech, as a designer. Technical skills aren’t all you need to get by in tech. Soft skills are far harder to learn, so recognizing the ones you’ve gained in your past can help you shine in your career more than you might see at first glance. Don’t underestimate the skills you’ve learned from all parts of your life: Waiting tables, teaching, having a learning disability, the female perspective, the list goes on. 

Dianne Bruno, Sr. Partner Marketing Manager

Support other women! And if you are tired, rest – but never give up.

Suhasini Raj, Sr. SD-WAN Systems Engineer

There is no right or wrong time to start a career in technology. 3 Cs – Curiosity, Confidence, and Communication – helps you stand out. Be open to learning something new every day, accept new challenges, and push yourself out of your comfort zone. Never be intimidated by the fast-paced tech industry and the people around you. There are so many resources available to help you enhance your skills. Small steps lead to big changes. Step up and make your voice heard when you see an opportunity.

Torsha Banerjee, Engineering Manager

Don’t underestimate the power of learning to code. Also get a mentor early in your career.

Payal Jain, Business Operations

A successful woman is one who can build a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at her. Be sharp-minded and keen. The world is a swindle but dwindle your challenges with your wit. Be fearless and conquer the world.

Nacime Karami, Director of Telco Sales

As a woman working in technology, my advice would be to never stop learning or growing. Being immersed in technology means working in a fast-paced environment which is always evolving, and one should never get too comfortable or complacent. In fact, it has been said that when you’re feeling uncomfortable, it could mean that you are stretching your capabilities and growing. So, my recommendation is “get uncomfortable!” I always strive to learn new things, take on more, and continue growing (while helping others achieve the same). I love my job, company and partners because they always push me and help foster continued growth. There’s a plethora of information and resources that you can devour anytime so take advantage of it, take risks and just go for it. No one can limit you but yourself and through learning as well as hard work, the sky truly is the limit. If I could end with words to live by it would be to make sure you laugh hard and work hard every day.

Richa Asarawala, SD-WAN Consulting Systems Engineer

Being a woman in tech is a badge of honor. Wear it proud, loud and continue to inspire others. And don’t forget to Invest in yourself to grow and stay healthy.

Rekha Krishna, Senior Manager PM

Take risks and it is always worth it. Having the passion and hunger to learn always helps move up in the career.

Tell us about a woman/women who inspired you in your career.

Dianne Bruno, Sr. Partner Marketing Manager

Meredith Caram (currently Chief Revenue Officer at the JS Group) who I met while I was at AT&T as a Partner Marketing Manager early in my career. Meredith is a leader who understands and helped me understand that investing in human capital, diversity and inclusion builds cohesive teams and in turn innovation and improved financial performance.

Rekha Krishna, Senior Manager PM

For me my mom has always been my greatest inspiration. She was a working mom in India at the time when not many women used to work and encountered so many challenges. She never gave up. She is a great multi-tasker which I inherited (thanks to her). She was passionate in her work and was recognized for her work many times. She also made sure her kids get good values and are set up for success. Growing up I remember I was treated equal to my brother. I have also been inspired by Sonali Bhatnagar on the VMware SD-WAN team who I highly regard. Amazed by her leadership style. I aspire to be like her one day. 3rd source of inspiration for me is Michelle Obama – I read her autobiography and was inspired by how she broke all odds and barriers not only having a great professional career, great mother, wife, being a person of color. It was an eye-opener for me how she tried to balance work and kids while Obama worked his way up in his political career. She continues to motivate everyone.

Laurel Beyers, Staff Product Designer

When I was in middle school, I had a fantastic theater teacher named Mrs. Wenzel. She was a force to be reckoned with – strong, assertive, confident, and creative. Seeing how she captured an audience (of students in a classroom) and helped guide people on stage and off was inspiring and helped shape me into the person I am today. We still talk to this day (she officiated my wedding!). Her mentorship from childhood to adulthood on being a loud and proud woman, unapologetically, has been deeply influential in my whole life. She has helped give me the confidence to pursue careers I may otherwise have dismissed, speaking up when I have something to say, and being self-aware but not impaired by the areas I need to grow in.

Ravi Sharma, Director of Market Intelligence and Communications Strategies

On the occasion of Women’s Day, I’d like to recognize my mother whose wisdom and value system have been an inspiration to me and my family. She always emphasized the importance of character, integrity and humane values and how those attributes needed to be at the core of one’s career or life.

Richa Asarawala, SD-WAN Consulting Systems Engineer

The leadership and skills of Alecia Williams, WW Director of VMware SD-WAN Center of Excellence, greatly inspires me. The way she brought herself back on her feet after accidental injury was phenomenal, she is a true inspiration and motivation to all women in tech.

Ratnesh Sharma, Director of Data Center & Cloud Networking Partner GTM

My wife, Dr. Nita Sharma continues to be a huge inspiration with her focus on continuous learning. As an engineering leader, she is always ready to continue her technical learning by taking online courses, webinars etc. She is currently enrolled in a post-grad program on AI and ML, newfound skills that have already given her an opportunity to re-invent herself and give her career a boost. She is willing to take risks, leverage the newly acquired knowledge and continue to learn through application even though it might feel uncomfortable at first.

What does diversity and inclusion mean to you? 

Torsha Banerjee, Engineering Manager, VMware SD-WAN Dataplane

An inclusive workplace doesn’t just have a diversity of people present, it has a diversity of people involved, developed, empowered and trusted by the business.

Laurel Beyers, Staff Product Designer

Embracing the unique differences of everyone from the way we look, act, speak to our different journeys in life. When these differences are celebrated, we are more empathic and supportive of each other as a society, leading to a better, more loving world for everyone.

Nacime Karami, Director of Service Provider Sales

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace are critical. To me, it means providing equal opportunity and actively seeking out a variety of candidates when it comes to gender, race, age, and more. I believe that networking is key to D&I hiring. If you seek out referrals from various sources, you’re more likely to get diverse candidates than by going through the standard recruiting methods. Sourcing candidates from all backgrounds and not stopping at just those with a college degree is another method that needs to be implemented in the hiring process. Experience can outweigh a college degree, yet this hiring practice has had slow adoption rates. Not everyone has access to a degree and higher education. We should address this hiring “norm” and adopt new ideas and practices.

Suhasini Raj, Sr. SD-WAN Systems Engineer

Workplace diversity and inclusion is essential for employees to feel more connected. When companies strive to create a diverse and inclusive culture, it establishes a sense of belonging. To me, D&I is motivation and I feel empowered to be a part of a diverse group. I am very blessed to be at VMware that gives utmost importance to provide a diverse and inclusive environment.

Dianne Bruno, Sr. Partner Marketing Manager

It means being valued and represented. Celebrating and welcoming people for their unique differences.

Rekha Krishna, Senior Manager PM

Diversity and inclusion work better when it is top-down and I am proud to say VMware has done a phenomenal job top down all the way up from our CEO to BU level. I do see our culture and value promotes diversity and inclusion.

Richa Asarawala, SD-WAN Consulting Systems Engineer

Diversity allows for the exploration of differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment.

How do you #ChooseToChallenge the status quo?

Dianne Bruno, Sr. Partner Marketing Manager

I educate to challenge. #ChooseToChallenge

Nacime Karami, Director of Service Provider Sales

In order to #ChooseToChallenge the status quo, my advice is to speak up and always continue learning and pushing beyond your comfort zone. We’re all working to combat so much in the workplace—from diversity and inclusion to fair and equitable pay to exposing and knocking down unconscious biases—that we simply cannot allow for the status quo to continue. If you see something wrong, it’s important to speak up, take chances and be bold (lean in!). I always believe in facing challenges head on and not just accepting the status quo because there’s always a better way. One must persevere with respect, determination, grace and integrity. Even if you’re afraid, don’t hesitate to have a discussion and maybe even disagree. Voice your thoughts and allow yourself to be heard. If the organization is not interested in hearing what you have to say, that may just be a hidden blessing.

Rekha Prasad, Sr. Marketing Manager

As a woman in the tech industry, I understand that where I am today is thanks to the fearless individuals who broke the glass ceiling and paved the way for me and future generations. I #ChooseToChallenge the status quo by continuing the progress for equality in the workplace, breaking my own unconscious bias, celebrating other women’s achievements, serving as an ally, and standing in solidarity with those who are still suffering from inequity.

Sanjay Uppal, VP and GM of VMware SD-WAN

For me, I am inspired and amazed by the talent and grit the many fearless women at VMware SD-WAN exemplify. And I have seen first-hand the struggles that my daughter went through in this male-dominated tech world. I #ChooseToChallenge the status quo and help accelerate further changes that will drive gender parity and equitable outcomes for women.


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