For women in STEMM, choosing the right organization to support your career development is one of the most important decisions you can make.
The best organizations nurture a culture of support for women by addressing employment barriers and challenging gender stereotypes. This includes actively creating opportunities for upskilling, mentorship, networking and more, so you can pursue your chosen career path.
Okta, Inc. is doing just that.
A leading provider of cloud software, Okta enables organizations to manage their extended enterprise through technology, create great customer experiences and fulfill their mission. The business supports more than 5,600 organizations and has over 5,500 integrations to securely connect people and technology.
We spoke with Moushmi Banerjee, Senior Software Architect, to talk about how Okta supports her to thrive in her career.
“Okta has a great reputation for latching on to new ideas, releasing features quickly, and its impressive fast-paced culture,” said Moushmi. “I spoke to many people before joining, and only heard great things.”
1. Cool projects and work you’ll love
Moushmi inherited her love of math from her mom, topping her high school and university classes in computer science and math. Her extraordinary academic achievements laid the foundation for her career.
“I learned to code early, taking courses throughout high school. Computer science, logic and coding all came very naturally to me. As a 90s kid, technology and computer science were the ‘in’ thing. Microsoft and Oracle were huge.”
Moushmi worked at Oracle for 14 years, then made the move to Okta to work as the main architect for CIAM (Consumer Identity and Access Management), a user-centric application.
“I get to build cool stuff! Being an engineer is so rewarding, because you can deliver so much value. When you build or finish coding something, it’s a total high! Yes, you need to have incredible perseverance and be a lifelong learner. But if you enjoy it, your work has the power to impact so many people’s lives. Every day, I’m grateful for staying in STEMM. It’s an incredible career path.”
2. Career development opportunities for women in STEMM
There are clear career pathways for women in STEMM at Okta. When Moushmi first joined, she was entrusted with her first big challenge.
“The principal architect was a good friend of mine and I learned so much from him. He personally mentored me when I joined Okta. Shortly after I joined, he went on parental leave. I was thrown into the deep end – and it’s one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. I went from zero to a hundred in just a few months’ time! I really enjoyed the challenge.”
Many women in STEMM can feel intimidated or take years to find growth. To counteract this, Okta actively seeks Rising Stars to raise the next generation of architects.
“We ensure women’s voices are heard in engineering because their perspectives have so much to offer. At past workplaces, I’ve been the only woman. While I’m currently the first and only woman senior architect, I’m not focused purely on management. I’m mentoring the next generation of women in STEMM.”
While Moushmi has enjoyed working for various teams, she is particularly excited about the upcoming work in identity management.
“It’s a really interesting, focused and nuanced area and there are lots of learning opportunities. Brush up on your knowledge. Be curious! It’ll help you learn faster.”
Okta has a learning portal with tutorials and certification programs. There are also virtual learning events, packed with keynotes, tutorials, and workshops.
“Tech is always changing – so you need to always be willing to learn. Stay hungry, work hard and you’ll do well! Perseverance is key. Okta has many senior professionals to help you ramp up your skills quickly. There’s so much knowledge here that’s readily available to tap into.”
3. A collaborative culture that supports work-life balance
Okta maintains an open, collaborative culture. This is reflected through frequent Town Hall meetings and weekly all-hands calls with presentations from the CEO and senior leaders. There are many opportunities for recognition too.
“At any given time, we all know what’s happening in the company. We consider everyone as a stakeholder, and that’s empowering. As senior architects, we receive exposure through presentations – but junior engineers get to discuss new initiatives and share their thoughts too. It’s a big deal that they get to be recognized.”
Moushmi loves being part of a collaborative workplace where everyone is supported.
“We all want to do the right thing and move fast. We have many women in senior roles and a mentorship program for women, where we get to hear from leaders in fireside chats and ask questions.”
And what about work-life balance?
Okta supports dynamic and remote work for better work-life balance.
“We get a lot of support from the management team to take time off. Taking breaks is so important because we all work really hard. I enjoy spending time with my kids. We love hiking, archery, and plenty of outdoor activities!
“After starting a family, many women consider switching from STEMM to people management. Just because they think it will provide better work-life balance or better growth opportunities. But there’s no pressure to do this at Okta because we have such a supportive culture.”
Okta offers gender-neutral parental leave policies and paid parental leave.
Find out more about Okta’s benefits and policies.
Moushmi is a huge fan of Okta Hackathons, which run for one week each year. She loves presenting and seeing new ideas, and even won her first hackathon!
“I’m a total fangirl. Everyone is encouraged to participate, and you get a lot of cross-functional opportunities to work with different teams. So many great ideas have come from hackathons – some which have even been productized at Okta. There are plenty of cool prizes too.”
These hackathons are another great way for recognition and visibility throughout the organization especially for junior engineers.
5. Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)
Okta has several Employee Resource Groups, including Women@Okta, People of Color @Okta and Women in Engineering. These ERGs educate, support and drive gender diversity and inclusion.
“We’ve been doing a lot of remote activities due to COVID. I recently presented at one of Women@Okta’s fireside chats about diverse hiring. It’s an ongoing series we’re really excited about! We also have a book club. I love to read, and the books we choose have been so inspiring.”
Women@Okta’s mentorship program allows Moushmi to receive mentorship support from leaders and “pay it forward” by mentoring fellow women.
BONUS 6th way Okta supports women in STEMM – with great values!
Most importantly, Moushmi enjoys working in an organization with shared values. A passionate volunteer, she’s worked at a food bank, packaging and distributing food, and completed volunteer work remotely during COVID.
It’s a good thing then that everyone in the company can participate in Okta for Good, a giving initiative. Each year, members receive funds to donate to charity and are given time to volunteer.
“Okta’s heart is in the right place. The company really has empathy.”
For those navigating a STEMM career, Okta could be the perfect place for you.
“We all need allies. Which is why we actively encourage women engineers to stay on track. Yes, it takes hard work. But if you love it and you’re passionate about solving problems, join Okta and stay in STEMM! There are clear growth pathways at Okta to ensure you succeed.”