Welcome to our latest edition of Women in Tech, where we are delighted to have Rohini Sharma, Industry Lead at monday.com, share her journey and insights with us.
Rohini’s got a fascinating story, growing up in India and being captivated by computers from an early age. She’s had quite the journey, and now she’s a real force in the tech world and a passionate advocate for diversity and inclusion.
Throughout her career, Rohini has had some incredible experiences at companies like Woolworths Group and TPG Telecom. These roles have given her the tools she needs to excel in her current position at monday.com. As a woman in a traditionally male-dominated field, Rohini has faced her fair share of challenges. But guess what? She’s taken them head-on and has been a fierce champion for creating more opportunities for women in tech and leadership.
In our chat, Rohini shares her thoughts on the future of the tech industry and talks about the importance of getting more women involved in tech careers. She also highlights the steps companies can take to encourage diversity and inclusion. Plus, she offers some great advice for young women interested in technology and leadership roles – emphasising the power of mentorship, persistence, and lifelong learning.
So, come along and join our conversation with Rohini as we explore her inspiring journey and gain valuable insights into technology, transformation, and leadership. We know you’ll be just as inspired by her passion for growth and innovation as we are!
Hi Rohini, great to have you join us today! Can you tell us about your journey into the tech industry and how you became the Industry Lead at monday.com?
Growing up in India, I was fascinated by computers from a young age and spent a lot of time in the computer lab at my school. Although this was initially because it was the only air-conditioned room we had during the hot summers, this led to my deep interest in technology. Fortunately, I had an amazing teacher who recognised my potential and encouraged me to further explore my interest in computers.
I got my degree in computer science, which allowed me to land a role in tech consulting following my studies. Working in a fast-paced environment helped me to hone my technical and product expertise, and it was here I was first exposed to ‘Agile’ as a development methodology. This put me on a pathway I continued on all the way through to my current role as Industry Lead at monday.com.
You have previously held leadership roles at Woolworths Group and TPG Telecom. How have those experiences prepared you for your current role at monday.com?
After building really strong foundations in consulting with Thoughtworks, both Woolworths and TPG Telecom gave me the opportunity to refine my industry and leadership skills. Woolworths allowed me to go deep on the digital transformation required to deliver a best-in-class retail experience. One milestone from my time there was leading the organisation’s cloud migration, unlocking the speed and scalability needed to take Woolworths to the next level.
During my time at TPG Telecom, I learned how to effectively communicate the value of transformation to different stakeholders. My role involved designing the strategy and blueprint for business transformation and building and leading a new team to execute it.
It was an incredibly important experience providing valuable skills I use in my current role at monday.com. From consulting through to deep industry immersion, I am now able to better guide our customers and teams to achieve their business goals and continue to innovate and grow as a company.
As a woman in a traditionally male-dominated industry, what challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
Throughout school, I was often the only girl in my maths classes and one of only two females in my computer class. In my early career, this trend continued and there were times when I was the only woman who had a seat at the leadership table.
One memory that stands out to me was during a presentation to a room of potential recruits; I looked around and realised I was the only woman amongst a group of 30 men. This moment reinforced the importance of increasing diversity and representation for me. Fortunately, I have found many progressive men along the journey who have been a huge part of my support system, including my father, husband, brother, managers and peers.
Being a working mother has also had its challenges. Historically, it was not common for women to be heavily pregnant while navigating leadership, and I have witnessed a lot of misunderstanding and underrepresentation over the years. These experiences have made me a strong advocate and I continue to push for more opportunities for women in tech and leadership.
Through perseverance, hard work, and a deep commitment to promoting gender equality and diversity in the workplace, I have been able to chip away at these challenges. I am proud to continue to advocate and work towards a more inclusive and diverse tech industry.
What are some of the key learnings that you’ve had when transforming organisations?
I often see business leaders look at transformation as an overnight project, wanting to overhaul all aspects of the business as quickly as possible. Bringing in processes and mandating change on what to do, and how to do it, all at once can create internal disconnect between departments and siloes of disjointed information.
One of the most important things to keep in mind when embarking on a large-scale enterprise transformation is to deeply understand the “why” behind it and to make a sustained effort to explain this rationale to all areas of the business.
Once you have established this “why”, identify one or two top priorities and focus intently on these. Pursuing digital transformation and implementing change is about quality over quantity, and when instrumented successfully it sets the company up to achieve its business goals.
Can you share some examples of memorable digital transformation projects you have worked on throughout your career so far?
Reflecting on projects I’ve led over the years, there are many examples where we changed from old, monolith architecture to modern scalable platforms allowing businesses to unlock speed and customer experience. Woolworths’ cloud migration was one of them, but it’s the projects where we apply technology to innovate and enable the greater good that I really love.
My team’s work on the ‘Priority Assistance’ service that Woolworths launched during the first lockdown to ensure vulnerable customers could order groceries online and have them delivered at home is particularly close to my heart. The team used existing tech and applied innovative design thinking to turn around a completely new service in a matter of days.
Most recently at monday.com, I have been building our industry vertical in transformation and agile from the ground up. It’s like my third baby these days. Working as a startup within a startup, I have applied some of the key principles that make monday.com successful and taken learnings from it. It’s been a fun ride.
As the Industry Lead at monday.com, what do you see as the biggest challenges facing the tech industry in the next few years?
Artificial intelligence is going to be a big and really exciting disruptor, for the foreseeable future both within the tech industry and beyond it. The proliferation of AI will mean mass upskilling for existing tech professionals, as well as consideration of what skills are needed moving forward and how industries will navigate the adoption of AI amongst existing technology.
Despite some of the anticipated challenges, the opportunity AI brings is immense and exciting. As with any significant change, there will be obstacles to overcome, but it’s essential to remember that challenges can lead to growth and progress.
How can we encourage more women to pursue careers in tech, and what steps can companies take to promote greater diversity and inclusion in the industry?
I would say we need to increase the visibility of women in the workforce. This will attract more women to previously under-represented roles by setting an example for other women to enter the technology field. One aspect of this is to prioritise and elevate women’s career growth within the industry. By promoting more women into leadership roles and creating pathways for them to advance, we create an environment more representative of the world we live in.
Companies must also take steps to ensure that their hiring practices and workplace culture are inclusive and welcoming to all minority groups. At monday.com this has meant implementing diversity and inclusion training, creating mentorship programs for women, and fostering a workplace culture that values diversity and inclusivity. Creating professional networks and providing role models for young women in tech is another way to inspire and encourage them to pursue careers in the industry.
As I meet women through work, or come across them on platforms like LinkedIn, I will not hesitate to reach out or congratulate them on their achievements to create a more solid connection that enables us to lean on each other and create further opportunities to succeed in the industry.
Who are some female leaders in the tech industry that you admire, and what qualities do you think make them successful?
I have been following Mira Murati, CTO at OpenAI, and think she is an excellent example of female leadership in our industry. Not only is she an expert in her field, with a deep understanding of AI and its potential applications, she is also an engaged and emphatic leader who is able to communicate with many audiences. I’m very inspired by Mira at the moment and look forward to seeing her journey in tech over the next few years.
What advice would you give to young women who are interested in pursuing careers in technology or leadership positions in the tech industry?
My advice to young women is to seek out mentorship and support, be persistent in pursuing their goals, and always continue to learn and upskill. It’s important to surround yourself with supportive individuals and seek out opportunities that will allow you to gain experience and develop new skills.
Additionally, staying up-to-date with the latest industry trends — right now, that would be artificial intelligence — and developments to help stay competitive in the field.
Finally, what are your goals for the future, both personally and professionally, and how do you plan to continue driving innovation and success in the tech industry?
On a professional level, I’m pushing myself to gain a deeper understanding of artificial intelligence and all the opportunities that go along with it. There are new developments happening in AI every day, so lots to keep up with!
Personally, I’m committed to building a strong community of women in technology. I meet a lot of amazing women through work and want to better connect us all to build a network that supports both emerging and established professionals in the tech industry.
Before you go…
If you’d like to sponsor or advertise with Balance the Grind, let’s talk here