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Meet six talented HCL women engineers shaping the world

Meet six talented HCL women engineers shaping the world

 June 09, 2020

To celebrate International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) that this year takes place annually on June 23, Where Women Work meets some of the talented women at HCL Technologies helping to #ShapetheWorld through their important work.

HCL Technologies is a next-generation global technology company that helps enterprises reimagine their businesses for the digital age. Its technology, products, services and engineering are built on decades of innovation and a strong culture of invention and risk-taking, coupled with a relentless focus on customer relationships.

Within HCL, there are many women engineers working to support customers and deliver important outcomes for some of the world’s biggest businesses. Here is an introduction to six of them, explaining their background, how they came to work in tech, and career advice for women who want to follow in their footsteps.

Meet HCL’s Neelam Manwani

HCL Neelam Manwani

Neelam Manwani is Engineering Delivery Lead for HCL client, TiVO Corporation, in Bangalore. She was attracted to engineering back in the 2000s when she initially headed Microsoft IT and was accustomed to IT services.

“Today the new normal is technology and engineering, it’s not just coding. We need to understand the client’s business problems and to come up with innovative solutions and automation,” she explains.

During her time at HCL, Neelam has felt encouraged and has grown through the ranks, playing varied roles in IT Projects & Solutions.

“Specific projects I’ve enjoyed working on include setting up Microsoft offshore delivery at Noida and Seattle, building and stabilizing Microsoft IT at Hyderabad and Seattle, and executing engineering projects spanning IoT, ISVOnline at Bangalore,” she recalls. “I believe being unstoppable and taking risks will help me evolve as a professional. I also see work-life integration to be important - the concept of work-life balance is not about having it all.”

Neelam shares some salient career advice for women engineers: “You’re lucky to be starting your career in the new normal. There is pace and place all across the industry, if you have the drive in you to make it big.”

“Just remember, engineering is not a man’s world,” she adds. “No one can stop women from succeeding, but you need to believe in yourself, dream big, plus work smart and hard.”

Neelam adds that she is finding working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic has both its comforts and challenges: “I try to break up my time effectively across home chores, work, tech upskilling and enjoying my hobbies such as painting and baking.”

Meet HCL’s Akankshya Mishra

HCL Akankshya Mishra

Akankshya Mishra is a Project Manager for HCL client Siemens PLM in Pune in India. She is responsible for customer relationship management, managing a team along with deliveries, billing and invoicing, resourcing, allocations and handling overall growth (in terms of revenues/margins) of the projects with the intention to achieve HCL goals.

Akankshya was looking to work in a niche field with rapid innovations and challenging work.

“I was attracted to HCL’s brand name and its values, the concept of Ideapreneurship, HCL’s employee first culture, the highly competitive work environment and job rotation options,” says Akankshya

Looking to the future, Akankshya aspires to take on challenging work as a Project Manager or Account Manager along with being a mentor for HCL. She also plans to keep learning and adopting new technologies.

She advises women interested in engineering that nothing is impossible. “I would suggest you keep challenging yourself and stay focused,” she says. “Passion is an important part of being successful, so enjoy what you do every day and do not forget that you have a powerful mind.”

Akankshya suggests that while working from home during the pandemic, it’s important to take full control of your mind and utilize every bit of time. “Continue to pursue your hobbies, spend time with family and keep training yourself for upcoming technologies,” she says.

Meet HCL’s Caroline Fortune

Caroline Fortune HCL

Caroline Fortune is Regional Service Delivery Manager – Africa, BP SA Project, for HCL in Johannesburg. She explains that she entered the engineering sector by chance: “My background was as an Executive Personal Assistant and when working in a temporary position at a retail company, I heard an IT company was looking for someone so I applied and, to my surprise, I was successful,” she explains.

Over time, Caroline worked her way up to Team Lead, then to Desktop Support Manager and then to Service Delivery Manager. She took some time out but returned to assist a new client in the mining industry before joining HCL.

Caroline chose to work for HCL because she wanted a new challenge and her twin sister also happened to be working for the company.

“I applied for a Service Delivery Manager position and was successful. This change led me into the Petroleum industry,” she recalls. “HCL offers a lot of opportunities and is so diverse in terms of the different services it offers clients.”

Caroline sees her future being in the IT/Service Delivery space as she has a passion for people, providing excellent service and bringing in change and innovation.

Caroline advises women in engineering that nothing is impossible and that times have definitely changed. “Years back, engineering was a very male dominated environment and I had to be strong and determined,” she says. “I ignored the fact that I was a young woman from a “disadvantaged background” and managed to make my way into the IT world without much prior experience.”

Working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic has been a big change for Caroline as she has previously always worked onsite. “The work pace and volume actually seems to have increased during the pandemic,” she says. “I try to shut down outside work hours and I have adjusted my routine so I am focused on keeping physically and mentally healthy.”

“In further other areas of my life, I also hope to partner with my twin sister and pursue something in fashion or open our own coffee shop and bakery,” she adds.

Meet HCL’s Prachi Agarwal

HCL Prachi Agarwal

Prachi Agarwal is Director of Corporate Strategy for HCL ERS in Noida in India. She was drawn to engineering because of the impact technology has on every aspect of life and the way it can make aspects far more convenient for humans. “Being able to contribute to innovation, even in a small way, is what attracted me to the world of engineering,” she comments.

Prachi decided to work for HCL due to its strong innovative culture that leads to the development of interesting initiatives.

“HCL’s culture of risk taking enables employees to think out of the box and make decisions which initially might seem risky yet come with huge rewards once successful,” she adds.

Prachi was part of Shiv Nadar’s office (HCL’s founder and Chairman) for a number of years.

“I have worked on incubating some strategic product initiatives in HCL like an IBM acquisition and our acquisition of Actian, plus I have been working on a product-focused initiative in the medical technology space,” she explains.

Prachi says analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are already creating huge waves and have the potential to make a significant difference in the field of technology. Looking to the future, her ambition is to have an impact in the world, affecting humanity in a positive way through her work.

Prachi advises women engineers to choose technology careers as they can be truly impactful and rewarding, but that always having a clear understanding of the basics in technology is essential before diving deeper into complexities.

Regarding the recent pandemic, the lockdown was proving a challenge for Prachi because she has a toddler at home. “It has been a juggle between housework and my professional life,” she explains. “However, it’s important to see the silver lining in difficult situations and I have enjoyed spending more time with my family.”

Meet HCL’s Yogeeta Shettigar

HCL Yogeeta Shettigar

Yogeeta Shettigar is a Senior Project Manager for HCL and is based in Mumbai in India.

She believes engineering and IT provide an amazing combination. “Both have the capacity to transform the way we live. I feel a great sense of pride when a company I am part of provides valuable services,” she explains.

Yogeeta joined HCL following the merger of Geometric Limited. “My entry into HCL was by fate. I enjoy the abundant learning opportunities here. If you have the willingness to learn and grow, then there’s nothing stopping you at HCL,” she says.

Most of Yogeeta’s earlier projects were dealing with Product Lifecycle Management. She believes artificial intelligence and machine learning are two of the fastest growing technologies: “They enable us to do things that we were not capable of previously and they can influence everything from design and manufacturing through to operational efficiency.”

For women interested in engineering, Yogeeta advises: “If you are driven by passion for engineering and technology, then you should embark on a career in this constantly evolving field where work is always relevant and one has to constantly learn and grow.”

Like most professionals, Yogeeta needed to adapt her work throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. “I truly appreciate the various ways HCL supported its employees in as many ways as possible,” she says. “Personally, I am keen to return to the workplace. As a society we are all interconnected in one way or the other, so I pray we may return to a normal world soon.”

Meet HCL’s Razia Begum Syed

HCL Razia Begum Syed

Razia Begum Syed is a Delivery Manager for HCL client, Veoneer, and lives in Michigan, USA.

“As an active child eager to work on problem solving, I was always fascinated by technology, design and engineering,” explains Razia.

Razia had heard positive things about HCL during her college education, so she joined the company straight after completing her Masters. “There was no shortage of learning, opportunities, growth and collaboration, and my journey has been very enriching so far with HCL.”

Razia has been designing and developing advanced driver assistance systems and software engineering for semi-autonomous cars. She sees a future world with fully autonomous cars and vehicle systems, plus automated energy management systems supported by the Internet of Things.

Having been working from home during the pandemic, a positive aspect for Razia has been her discipline in maintaining a good work-life balance. “The saved commute time is a bonus that I have used for the well-being of my family and myself. Work is often demanding, which can at times affect the connection I have with my family. Working from home certainly filled some of those small gaps, as I could enjoy spending more time around my kids. I could cheer my daughter as she learns flips and hear my son playing the piano. I’ve been catching a few words when he practices Duolingo with his dad. Knowing and being part of these small things is indeed a blessing in these unprecedented times."

When it comes to Razia’s career ambitions, she is keen to inspire younger generations and lead by example. Her advice to others when it comes to their own careers is: “Do it and love it!”

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To see where your engineering career could take you, search and apply for job opportunities with HCL.


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