There’s never a dull day for Padmaja Kota, an engineering leader at Salesforce responsible for product development at the cloud-based software company.
Not only does he have to give his team the right opportunities, but he has to make the right business decisions and manage multiple priorities while sticking to commitments.
with a supportive workspace Flexible work arrangements It certainly helps with support groups like the Salesforce Women’s Network that help women in the company succeed in technology wherever they are on their journey.
In an interview with Computer Weekly, Kota, senior director of software engineering at Salesforce India, shared more about his career. Software developmentBenefits of a diverse workforce and what can be done to close the gender gap in coding.
How did your career in software development begin?
Quota: I was born and brought up in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh and come from a computer science and engineering background. After the dotcom era, becoming an engineer was a dream career for most of us.
Growing up, I was always interested in pursuing science and technology as my studies or career. This led to my graduation in Computer Science and Engineering from Rajiv Gandhi Technological University.
I started my career as a software engineer in Infosys and finally moved to New Zealand after my marriage. During this time, I learned the difference between product development and service engineering. Exposure to building a product to scale and serving multiple customers with a global mindset further enhanced my skills.
Padmaja Kota, Salesforce
After working abroad, I returned to India and joined Prokarma, where I had the opportunity to test and apply my learning and skills in a service-oriented company in the transport and locomotive space. In subsequent roles, I gained practical knowledge of all the steps involved in product development.
In 2014, I joined Salesforce. My role here has given me the opportunity to further expand my capabilities on various fronts both personally and professionally. Over the past eight years, I have grown from an engineering manager to a senior director of software engineering. Overall, I had a great opportunity to explore various roles in product development across industries in India and globally.
What exactly is your job like in a typical 24-hour day – is it deskbound, or in shifts, who are you with, where are you and what are you doing?
Quota: In my current role at Salesforce, I focus on engineering excellence and delivering critical customer features, which also drive innovation. As a leader, it is my responsibility to provide the right opportunities to the team, make the right business decisions and manage multiple priorities while staying true to commitments. I deliberately work to prioritize my priorities and leverage my experience over the years to efficiently manage my team.
The work of companies, teams and individuals has changed more in the past two years than at any time in history. Regardless of an organization’s return-to-work strategy, from in-person to hybrid to fully remote, digital infrastructure is replacing physical headquarters as the backbone of work. My team has embraced Salesforce’s introduction of the “Flex Team Agreement,” which allows us all the flexibility, choice, and balance to choose when and where we work based on our unique needs and projects.
How is your development team organized? Who are the members and what are their responsibilities?
Quota: My engineering team follows one Agile methodology Where each Scrum Team has a Scrum Leader identified. We work in close collaboration with product managers, shared services stakeholders, customer support and many other functions to successfully deliver new products and enhancements.
“I had a wonderful opportunity to explore various roles in product development across industries in India and globally”
Padmaja Kota, Salesforce
Salesforce’s “Success-from-anywhere” approach has increased our productivity. During the pandemic, we redefined how our teams work together with the Flex Team Agreement. We’re empowering teams to decide how, when and where they work – including how many days a week they come to the office and what kind of work they do at home. Initiatives such as “Async Week”, “Focus Time” and “Boundary Setting” are being tested as ways to increase the productivity of colleagues and prioritize their well-being.
An important component of the hybrid workspace is creating a digital headquarters, a hub where everyone can collaborate easily and efficiently, no matter where they are. By seamlessly bringing together the right people, information and tools, this technology is helping businesses become more connected, productive and innovative.
What strengths do you think women can bring to software development?
Quota: It’s no secret that diverse workplaces allow for greater innovation and success. A diverse workforce brings fresh perspectives, broader perspectives and better insights at every level. Especially in software development, the perspective of a diverse workforce, regardless of their race or gender, helps companies create a neutral framework in technology, while also helping to better understand the needs of other stakeholders.
Yet, one of the biggest challenges to advancing gender equality in the tech industry is emerging roles, such as engineering, cloud computing, and data and Artificial intelligence (AI). With that in mind, Salesforce has made great strides in building a more diverse and inclusive workforce that reflects the communities in which we live and work.
Part of what makes Salesforce an amazing company is our belief that business is the greatest platform for change. We are constantly working to eliminate bias at virtually all stages of the employee journey. From the initial interview, through onboarding and training, including employee exit. Salesforce isn’t afraid to invest in equity. We also have a program to support women returning to work after a break.
What do you think can be done to close the gender gap in coding? What do you think can be done to encourage more women to code?
Quota: In India, currently more than 50% of IT graduates are women, who represent 34% of the technology workforce. Today, conversations around diversity, equity and inclusion have become important boardroom discussions. However, there is still a long way to go before we can confidently say that women are fairly represented in the tech industry.
Organizations need to change the narrative regarding women in the workplace. We need to showcase the opportunities available to women in this industry, but looking at it from a talent gap perspective is one-dimensional and missing the big picture.
Padmaja Kota, Salesforce
Greater diversity, especially gender diversity, has many benefits for an organization beyond just filling talent shortages. Creating a culture of equality is not just the right thing to do; It’s also a smart thing – empowering us to innovate, build deeper connections with our customers, and ultimately become a better company.
When I joined Salesforce there were very few women in my office. I was among the first few members of the Salesforce Women’s Network in Hyderabad. Through the Women’s Network, Salesforce has ensured that women have the opportunity to improve their skills and reap the benefits of the digital economy. Today, I’m so proud to be a part of this network that creates intentional career paths for women to enter and succeed in technology, no matter where they are on their journey.
Salesforce is also committed to equal pay for equal work. We conduct salary reviews on an annual basis to address any global gender gap. More than $22 million has been spent to date to address any unexplained pay gaps, ensuring our global workforce is paid fairly.
Is certification important for one’s career advancement in development? If so, what kind of certification should be pursued?
Quota: While credentials are important, having the relevant skills to meet the demands of digital transformation is a top priority today. In the current situation, we cannot assume that new employees have the same knowledge and skills to adapt to emerging trends. Creating a virtual communications and resource library of training and subject matter experts that anyone can access is one example of how companies can help employees at all levels succeed.
According to insights from the recently launched Salesforce Digital Proficiency Index, skills in collaboration technologies, such as Slack, are seen as the most important skills needed by businesses today. In India, digital marketing is ranked as the top workplace skill, yet only 39% of respondents rate their workplace digital marketing skill level as “advanced”.
Our new digital world presents a great opportunity for companies to rethink what agile teams look like Businesses like Salesforce have an important role to play in bridging the skills gap by rethinking education and training initiatives. By tailoring training programs based not on what employees think they should know, but on what employees actually want, and need to know, companies can create a flexible work culture that allows all employees to connect, learn and learn from anywhere. Empowers progress.