Award-winning tech leader, author & speaker Alana Karen
HCL's D&I Leader Chandini Kamal interviews tech expert Alana Karen
HCL Technologies understands the importance of spotlighting successful women to help inspire other women to aim high in their careers.
Supporting this focus, HCL's Women Connect Affinity Network hosted an insightful event highlighting the excitement and challenges for women working in the technology sector.
Chandini Kamal, D&I Global Lead at HCL, supported the event
The event was moderated by HCL's Diversity & Inclusion Global Lead, Chandini Kamal and featured award-winning technology leader, author, and speaker Alana Karen for a virtual fireside chat to discuss her experience as a woman working in tech.
Attended by HCL employees and aspiring leaders, the event formed part of HCL's Femspiration series where successful women leaders share insight about their leadership success and reflect on pertinent gender aspects with HCL employees.
From Google Search to Ads, Fiber to Google Grants and beyond, Alana has been leading the charge to develop, scale, build and drive team and product development that has seen rippling industry impact. Alana has spoken at many conferences and summits on technology, leadership, DEI, talent and innovation.
Spotlighting the stories of women forging tech careers
Chandini opened the event by asking Alana about her book, The Adventures of Women in Tech: How We Got Here and Why We Stay that delves into why women join the tech sector, the challenges they face, and the skills and support needed to succeed and stay in an often challenging environment.
Alana explained that the idea came out of a desire to share the diverse and uplifting stories of women working in tech, which was "triggered by such passion." The book focuses on the lives of women forging their careers in the industry and presents a collection of stories and interviews with women who paved the way for greater diversity in the technology sector - and what this means for future generations. From women pursuing challenging roles in product and engineering to those pursuing innovative roles in traditional spaces like HR, sales, legal and finance, Alana forges a broader definition of what constitutes a 'tech' career.
Alana discussed what tech career paths can look like and how women can navigate the ongoing stressors of an environment when they are in the minority. Alana asked whether women felt like they are thriving, or just surviving - and whether women are satisfied or tempted to give up.
Discussing time management and prioritization
Passion may have fueled the creation of Alana's book, but Chandini asked Alana how she successfully managed her time and further responsibilities - and whether she made compromises. For Alana, it was all about priorization. After setting the intention of writing the book, Alana decided to take on fewer side projects that year. Her job at the time was also stable, "without chaos and craziness", which enabled her to have the mental space to focus on her writing. At that point, her three children were also older and more independent. Alana encourages us to think about how we can have it all over time in our careers, not necessarily all at once.
Delving into Alana's technology career journey
While Alana's book is about other women in technology, the HCL event also focused on Alana's own journey in this industry, where a side-project became a passion that then launched into a career. Her career in technology started in web design, where she self-taught herself HTML and Java Script skills to create "light and easy" websites. She also tested out her interest through internships. Alana was enjoying her career path. "It blended creativity...with how you can share information in a fun and interesting format," she said.
Understanding the importance of non-technical talent
Alana's career also helped her understand the huge importance of non-tech roles in a technology company, such as operations, sales, HR, and finance. Through her book, Alana challenges the "snobbery" in the tech industry of "technical" versus "non-technical" talent through including stories from women in non-technical roles. Drawing from her own experience via a non-technical degree in History, Alana wants women to understand that even without a tech background or education, women can still be highly successful in the industry. "Every single team has their place and helps support the broader mission," she suggests.
Four reasons technology careers can be very enjoyable
When Alana asked the women in her book why they enjoyed working in the technology sector, four responses tend to be most common:
- the chance to change the world through the pace of innovation
- career growth opportunities in an innovative and fast-growing industry
- inspiring colleagues working in a culture of belonging
- great financial reward and recognition of talent and expertise
Alana suggests that these four reasons play a significant part in attracting and retaining women within a progressive company. Alana believes women tend to leave companies when they felt like those four things weren't playing out for them anymore, or interest in those things had changed and that's where you saw women more likely to move on.
Focusing on individual passions
Alana encouraged her audience to listen to technology leaders, but also emphasized the importance of uniqueness and individuality and finding what interests ourselves. She explained that her own leadership philosophy is shaped by people management and collaboration, whereas some people's leadership may be based more on getting their teeth into technical problems.
Chandini concluded the discussion with Alana sharing some pertinent words for aspiring HCL leaders about forging their own path in the industry. "We really have to pay attention to ourselves. What gives us energy? What inspires us?" concluded Alana.
Work as a technology leader at HCL
HCL Technologies sees many impressive leaders and changemakers within its ranks like Executive Director & CEO Roshni Nadar Malhotra and ESG & Diversity Board Committee Chair Robin Ann Abrams.
HCL invites talented women to join the company, so search the latest job vacancies at HCL.