The myth of women having to prove themselves has to end

In conversation with Riddhi Anilkumar, Sr. Regional & Distributor Marketing Manager at Acronis about her journey in the world of technology, and her strong belief that women have already arrived and they have done it, so this myth of women having to prove themselves at anything has to end.

How did you land in the tech industry and what do you think is the best part of being a woman in the tech industry?
In some interesting turn of events, little did I know that I’d be drifting away from being a passionate dancer to a well-recognized, award-winning technology marketer. Being greatly impassioned for creativity, designing and carving a progressive career path for myself are factors that lie at the core of what I value the most in my profession and technology marketing is a perfect blend to offer just that.

Marketing a non-tangible software or service necessitates the development of smarter and more innovative marketing tactics. Moreover, living in an era of a constantly evolving technological landscape demands adaptability and technical versatility. Working with and for organizations and technologies that form the foundation of the next generation, indeed, also allows me to upscale my skillset with a progressive learning curve. In my experience, I have witnessed multiple instances that necessitated me to take initiative by stepping out of my comfort zone, enabling me to discover my greater potential.

Besides, advancements in technology have only gotten better and working in a relative environment, you’re in for something new, exciting, and challenging every step of the way.

How would you describe your journey as a woman in tech and how do think the industry has evolved in acceptance of women since you joined the tech industry?
My journey of being a technology marketer for close to a decade has been truly rewarding and fairly progressive by all means. Having worked in a country like the UAE that’s home to diverse nationalities and one that has taken several initiatives to bridge the gender disparities in the corporate world, I haven’t had to encounter any major gender bias in my role.

Over the course of my role at previous employments, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity of working across different facets of marketing that have helped me expand my knowledge in this massive field. However, though, being the youngest female marketeer in most organizations I’ve worked for, often meant being looked upon as one that didn’t belong in the room. This has however empowered me to bring my best foot forward, fight for my voice, fuel myself for the next challenge, and reinforce the fact that by all means, I belong here.

In the field of marketing as well as in the industry as a whole, gender disparity over the years has narrowed down with more men being supportive of women’s roles in leadership and with organizations relying more on skillsets and talent as opposed to gender. It’s pleasing to see at my current role in Acronis where 95% of the marketing roles across APJ and MEA are led by a female workforce with a cooperative and respectful team of fellow male colleagues.

Do you feel you have had to work harder than male colleagues to advance your career?
Thanks to the ever-supportive and encouraging coworkers that I’ve worked with, I haven’t had to face a backlash for being a woman in tech marketing. I largely credit my success of a progressive trajectory in tech to the fantastic mentors I have encountered in this journey and the fellow women leaders for empowering a bunch of women like myself to believe in themselves and break the traditional norms.

Being a newbie female marketer however, I did tend to raise a lot of eyebrows at a certain stage in my career with ideas and opinions being second-guessed and many times, even blatantly ignored by male colleagues who often tend to disregard females thriving to enhance their careers.

No matter how much progress we make in eliminating this disparity, it is practically impossible to change the mindset of people at an individual level that is rigidly stemmed from years of belief. Thanks to these instances, I have learnt to raise my voice and stand my ground for what I strongly believe in.

What is the best professional advice you have ever received?
Be vocal, yet subtle. More often than not women tend to stay quiet and let go of all the times when we really need to speak up for ourselves, giving into the fear of sounding arrogant or offensive or plain stupid. It’s more about how you convey the message and less about what the content might be.

Moreover, If you’ve been invited to be an active participant at a meeting, it’s because you have very well earned a seat at the table. Regardless of whether your suggestion is counted, it’s about bringing yourself one step closer to gathering the courage of putting yourself out there and learning from that experience.

What would you like to tell to the women looking to break into the field of technology?
Technology is always changing, for better or for worse but learning is constant all the way through which therefore necessitates upgrading our skills regularly to stay relevant and informed in this fast-paced ever changing environment. We’re not here in a marathon to outdo the men and I feel that is something one must consciously realize. We need to start by putting an end to the myth of having to prove ourselves at anything. You are a woman in the corporate world be it in tech, medical, or law – You’re here and you’ve already done it.

Can you offer a few tips on achieving work-life balance in today’s scenario?
Maybe it the time to finally give in to the efforts of IOS and Android’s “Screen time” and “App limitations”? No kidding, it really works. More often than not, we are hitched to our phones for emails and Zoom calls despite the presence of a laptop. Your work is yours and is therefore a reflection of you. The more you invest in your well-being, the more you invest into bringing your best foot forward in everything you do.

What one thing you would like the tech industry to change or improve upon to be more welcoming to women under its fold?
In my honest opinion, it is more to do with people and less to do with any specific industry. Before men, it is women who need to be allies for fellow women colleagues striving to enter into the industry by supporting, guiding, and celebrating their growth rather than fearing the loss of their own position due to a new entrant.