Senior Software Engineer II Aparna Chaudhari Offers Advice for Women in Tech (and Pointers for Making the Industry More Inclusive)
In our latest installment of 5 Questions, we sit down with Aparna Chaudhari to learn more about her role, what she’s learned during her time at CrowdStrike and why a more diverse workforce is good for business.
Q. Tell me about your role and what it entails day to day.
I am a Senior Software Engineer II, so primarily my job is to design, architect and implement test tools that enable other engineers to get the quality metrics they need. For example, if you have a new functionality that is being added or are working within a given domain team, my team helps figure out the tooling and infrastructure needed to support their test and quality needs, while adding it to our overall development and testing architecture. We determine what we can provide so that they can add the needed automation to the continuous integration/continuous development (CI/CD) pipelines. It’s making sure things continue to work, as we try to move fast while maintaining a high standard of quality.
Q. Sounds like a lot! What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job?
There are three really rewarding aspects of my job. The first is evaluating new technology to add to our toolkit. As part of my role, I get to research and implement new solutions and make decisions based on the value I think they will bring to the team. I don’t have to go through multiple hoops for approvals — I’m empowered to make the decision to proceed, create proofs of concept and demonstrate the benefits to the team. The learning aspects bring me a lot of satisfaction.
Another thing that I feel is extremely rewarding is the people I work with. Our team and people across the organization are very open with their knowledge and willing to help others learn. Their feedback is also very constructive. It makes for a positive learning environment.
And then, a third point is the lifestyle balance. I love my work, but I feel that some of my best ideas and solutions to the problems I am trying to solve have come to me when I’m not at work. Sometimes I go for a walk and the answer comes to me. So it’s nice to work for a company that gives people flexibility. I don’t need to be sitting at my desk each day from 9 to 5.
Q. What have you learned since joining CrowdStrike?
One of the things I’ve learned since joining CrowdStrike is how to build new skills. Very early on, a senior person on the team told me, “When you’re taking on a project, you are coming with an existing skill set that you will use to do your job. But there should always be something new that you’re adding to your toolkit. If the project is not giving you that opportunity, make it happen. Find an opportunity to make it happen.”
I never used to think about it like that. That advice has really changed the way I approach projects. Now I always stop and think about what I can add to learn new skills through this work so that when the next project comes along, I have a wider skillset.
Q. How do you describe the culture at CrowdStrike?
The overall culture at CrowdStrike is very open and understanding. People are very approachable. All of the engineers I’ve worked with are passionate about their work and don’t see this as “just a job.” We’re committed to the company’s mission.
Another aspect again is that work-life balance. People are very understanding of your personal life, whether you’re a working parent or someone who has a lot of hobbies or has other personal commitments. Most of the people I work with are parents, and they understand what it means to have a child, especially during the pandemic. They know what it’s like to have personal responsibilities and work full-time in a demanding job. It means I might not be available on Slack all the time, or I might not be able to make certain meetings. People are very understanding and accommodating about that because they know I’ll still get the job done without sacrificing quality.
Q. What advice do you have for other women who are interested in a career in engineering or tech?
If a woman wants to get into engineering, then the only advice that I can give is to just keep swimming.
I know that’s a funny way to put it, but a lot of women give up along the way. It’s OK to make mistakes, and to use those to learn from and improve. It’s important to be open to failure and use your mistakes as a stepping stone to add to your skillset.
Also, when looking for career opportunities, do not let the job description and all of the specific responsibilities intimidate you. If you think you have the skills needed to be able to do the job, but don’t check all the boxes, don’t worry about it. It’s important to still apply and explore the opportunity, attempt the interview and see if you get the position. As long as you have the ability to get the core job done, you can learn the other skills needed.
But I understand this field can be intimidating as a woman. When I’ve been in a room of 15 or 20 engineers and I’m the only woman, it can feel overwhelming. Sometimes it seems like everybody is very confident and assertive, and it can be hard to speak up. But what you need to realize is that what you say adds value in a real way because diverse ideas help teams make better products and contribute to overall innovation. There are points that you might make that others have not even considered. And, by the way, not everything has to make an impact. Being able to discuss ideas openly can help everyone learn from each other.
Women in various technical fields have been working hard to get other like-minded women in the industry. But it has to be more than just us. Everyone needs to work to make the workplace more inclusive. It’s so important to have a space where people can come in, share their ideas, work on what they are passionate about and grow.
Women, of course, know why we need more women in the tech world. But we need to hear from others too, about why it’s important to them. It could go a long way to hear from the men we work with that they would like us on their teams, that they see the value we bring. Because at the end of the day, no matter how different we are, we’re still one team.
Are you ready to put Aparna’s advice into action? Browse our job listings today.