Can you tell me a bit about your background?
Hi, I’m Archana! I grew up in India, but something about traveling and different cultures fascinated me, so I decided to do some volunteering work with AIESEC in Poland for two months upon completing my B.A in Psychology, Sociology and Economics. Post that I worked for a year and realized I needed another adventure so decided to move to England to pursue my MSc in International Business in Nottingham. Currently, I’m the Head of Marketing (Ireland, India, Middle East & UK) at QS Quacquarelli Symonds, a global provider of higher education services that enables students to connect with top universities from all around the world to fulfil their potential through educational achievement.
How did you get into tech? What made you choose it?
I don’t come from a tech background but interestingly my first job was a technical support executive at Accenture. I worked for an American client where my role was to help customers with their broadband issues. Today, as a digital marketer, email marketing is vital for which I learnt how to code and design HTML’s. I also work with project managers to test the UX journey of the websites and apps that we’ve built. I’m so captivated by tech and believe it is essential to know and learn more especially in the digital world that we live in.
What personal or professional milestones would you highlight?
Well, there are many but the two that I would like to share that has changed my life and career drastically are:
Moving to England at the age of 21 to pursue my master’s degree at the University of Nottingham. For someone like me who was so protected by my parents becoming financially independent and living on my own was scary but an exciting and a big step at the same time.
My job at QS. I joined as an intern to support the marketing efforts for our student recruitment events in India and Middle East. This soon turned into a permanent role where I had the opportunity to train people, mentor team members, manage campaigns, create new products and most importantly create a platform for students to meet with the best universities from around the world. By far the highlight of this journey is the fantastic people that I’ve met and some lifelong friends that I’ve made and the opportunity to travel to countries that I would not have considered going to otherwise.
What advice would you give your 10-year-old self?
Don’t be afraid to explore the unknown, keep learning, make mistakes, never give up and remember you always have choice! Haha, seems like quite a bit of advice!
Do you regret not having done something today for not finding time?
I would have or still would love to do is to find time to learn how to speak and read French and Arabic. To me, they are both such different, beautiful and romantic languages.
What books do you recommend reading and listening to and why?
One of the books that I really enjoyed reading and motivated me was She Dog by Phil Knight. It’s an autobiography of the creator of NIKE. His crazy entrepreneurial journey of how he started selling shoes from the trunk of his car to becoming the most popular brand in the world is a fantastic and inspirational story.
This one is slightly old but SWITCH: How to change things when change is hard by Chip & Dan Heath is an interesting read. It talks how we humans are so resistant to change and how our decisions to change are based on emotions as opposed to logic. The book helps you to look at things in a unique way.
Another book I’d recommend is The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F0cK by Mark Mason that makes you think about happiness and how our perception of it is clouded by the consumer culture and social media.
Who is your role model?
I don’t have one but admire all the women and men who are out there fighting for human rights, empowering women and educating people. If I must name a few, Mahatma Gandhi, Malala Yousafzai, Susan Wojcicki, Oprah Winfrey & Michelle Obama.
How did you get into Girls in Tech and what made you do that?
Mihaela introduced me to GirlsInTech, by inviting me to one of the GIT panels at Awin. The GIT movement to empower, educate and engage with women was something that inspired me and complimented my personal mission which is to educate & empower people. There’s a sense of comradery between the ladies at GIT and I enjoy being part of community that supports women by organizing mentoring and coding workshops, empowering panels, networking working opportunities, debates on gender disparity and entrepreneurial sessions. I think we are slowly but steadily creating an impact with our GIT movement in London and hope to have many more like-minded women come and join us.
After so many years of being in STEM field, what do you think about diversity and inclusion in sector?
Things are changing but slowly. I still think there’s still quite a lot of work that needs to be done about diversity and inclusion in this sector. Employers are giving more importance towards it in the workplace now more than ever thanks to the stringent laws in the UK but gender pay gaps and gender preference still exists when it comes to roles in Tech.
On a brighter note, many universities, schools and colleges are curating courses in STEM for girls/women giving them an opportunity to learn and specialize in this field. I also think there are many more groups out there educating women and creating awareness about this which I believe will make a difference sooner than later.
What advice would you give to a person who wants to get into tech?
Network! Meet like-minded people in tech, grow your network, join communities and groups that will help you learn from their experiences and give you the exposure you need. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something, believe in yourself and just go for it!