Sowmya Krishna shares her admiration for her mother who showed her the ropes on what it means to be a parent while leading a successful career. Her mother has been her pillar of strength and now Sowmya returns the love and care by balancing carer responsibilities with parenting, work — and now a big home renovation. Life is incredibly busy, full of joy and Sowmya wouldn’t have it any other way. She says having a supportive employer can make all the difference and is loving her career at NetApp.
Sowmya is the Engineering Manager at NetApp. Leading a global team of engineers, she oversees and supports NetApp’s platforms to make sure they are all running smoothly. Before she was promoted to this leadership role, she started as a contractor about five years ago.
“With the majority of the team being infrastructure and cloud storage specialists, they were struggling to make progress on the software development. That is why I joined NetApp on a brief 3-month contract. I project managed the development and the launch of a new service offering.”
Recognition all the way to Silicon Valley
We enjoyed hearing how much of a go-getter Sowmya is — so much so, her work has gained attention in Silicon Valley. A lesson we can all learn is to not wait for opportunities to tap us on the shoulder. Sowmya creates her own opportunities.
“After successfully completing my first project, I expressed an interest in managing customer-facing infrastructure projects. I was immediately given the opportunity. I stayed on as a contractor for 5 years, managing big customer-facing projects and working on pre-sales. I was excited to hear that the software platform I initially delivered gained interest in the Silicon Valley based NetApp HQ.”
It was impressive to hear how Sowmya started the Engineering practice in NetApp ANZ from the ground-up and has expanded it to a high-performing global team. Her secret is finding the right diversity of people and understanding how their skills and knowledge can contribute to great outcomes.
“My next role after managing the customer-facing infrastructure projects was to kick-start an engineering team and continue ongoing development and support of NetApp’s software platforms. This is my current role in the company. It is a privilege to lead a very good team. I learn a lot from them every day. They bring a great work ethic and also the right skills as subject matter experts.”
Bringing your best self to work
Balancing care for family, an aging mother and building a successful career is possible because of the supportive culture at NetApp.
“When I started at NetApp, I was caring for my young child and aging mother. My apprehension about balancing work with my responsibilities at home was put to the test in the initial few days when my manager encouraged me to prioritize the wellbeing of my family over my work commitments. The support I received helped me bring my best self to work.”
“Whenever I have sought new opportunities within the company to grow my career, not only have I received support on changing career paths, but also mentorship to ensure I succeed. My leadership and ideas are always well received and encouraged, making me feel valued and respected.”
Sowmya says everyone who works at NetApp feels seen and heard.
“NetApp is a place that allows you to be yourself, feel valued, and where constant encouragement is provided to grow as a professional. There is an inclusive work culture at all levels, from hiring to decision making.”
There are also a lot of perks and benefits for working at NetApp many of which are centered around employee health and wellbeing.
“There is a high focus on wellbeing with flexible hours. We have paid wellness days off, no-meeting Fridays, health insurance for you and your family, salary continuance, and group life insurance. NetApp also has an equity program and a suite of other benefits too.”
Walking into a room with confidence
Success often comes from overcoming setbacks and barriers. Sowmya shares the challenges and bias she experienced early in her career as one of only a few women in tech.
“Early in my career, I would often be in a room filled with men. They would talk to each other like I didn’t exist. They didn’t want to acknowledge there was a woman in the room. My message is don’t be afraid to walk into a room full of men. Work hard and prove yourself. We don’t have enough women in tech and engineering and it’s a shame because IT is an amazing field where you get to work with brilliant minds. It is the future and also a lot of fun.”
Sowmya shares how she is a confident introvert. She is proud to be an introvert and dispels any myths about being too shy to speak in front of a room.
“I am an introvert but I am comfortable making tough decisions and speaking in front of a room full of people. It’s thanks to the help of mentors over many years. Having a mentor is important. There are a lot of people here at NetApp who are willing to mentor you and see you succeed. I have two very good mentors here and they are just a phone call away.”
We enjoyed our chat with Sowmya so much and her sense of humor as she shares how no one is allowed to touch her renovation project because it is her “baby”. She laughs that you should never get into the way of an engineer at home when they are managing a project.
“We are renovating at the moment. It’s my baby and passion project. I love to dance. I am a trained classical dancer and have performed at a number of shows. I like exploring new musical instruments and travelling around the world with my favorite travel companions — my husband, son and mother. It is something I always look forward to.”