Like a coin, every problem has two sides: the head and tail. Now, the problem of gender equality at workplaces, especially in the tech sector’s tail side, is occupied by duly deserving, immensely talented individuals losing because of their being women.
On the head side are leaders like Priya Kanduri. Yet, Priya’s ascent to prominence isn’t solely attributed to luck but to her indomitable character and relentless perseverance. In the labyrinth of challenges surrounding gender equality in workplaces, especially in the tech domain, Priya stands as a testament to overcoming these obstacles. She emerges as a leading contender for the distinguished title of ‘India’s Successful Women Business Leaders to Follow’, carving her path with sheer determination and unwavering resolve.
Priya has been in the IT industry for close to 25 years, and she has worked in the IT cybersecurity segment, which is severely underrepresented by women. Priya recalls, “There were not many women leaders to look up to or learn from during the early stages of my career. Diversity or workplace equality were not openly discussed or debated topics back then. It wasn’t too easy working your way up, though my employers offered equal growth opportunities.”
A Career of Creating Equal Opportunities
Priya’s unconscious approach to the situation had been to turn the position of the minority into a privilege to influence, trying to speak up and share her experiences and learnings at every possible opportunity. Creating an ecosystem of supporting colleagues and having the right mentors – preferably women leaders can help today’s tech women navigate their career paths.
Now, as a D&I champion and a women leader, Priya actively promotes diversity in the workplace, constantly encourages her teams and peers to hire more women and devises inclusive approaches to create a very women-friendly work atmosphere. Her sensibility and compassionate nature have made her one of the organization’s respected and most followed leaders. She says bridging gender parity is possible only when everyone acknowledges and comes together to address the issue. IT organizations in India have come a long way in fixing these gaps and should continue to focus on increasing workplace gender ratios from current 30:70 to 50:50!
Priya is the Senior Vice President and CTO of IMSS at Happiest Minds Technologies. With over 25 years of experience in the cyber security domain, Priya’s expertise spreads across cyber resiliency, cloud security, data privacy, XDR, cyber risk and compliance areas.
Priya is one of women leaders representing the management council of the Organization. As D&I champion for Happiest Minds, Priya had significant contribution in increasing diversity ratios from <14% to close to 30% in the past years. Priya has also built > 40% female diversity team in her cybersecurity service business.
Priya’s Leadership has been Crowned with
- Winner of “Technology Leader of the Year” from Economic Times ETPrime Women Leadership Awards 2023.
- Honoured with “Women at Work Achiever of the Year” 2023 by FKCCI, Karnataka.
- Honoured with the “Cybersecurity Executive of the Year” Award at BSides Bangalore Security Conference 2023.
- Winner of “Women In Tech Leadership Award” at The Rising 2023 powered by Analytics India Magazine.
- Winner of “Cyber Security Executive of the Year” award at the Cloud Security Alliance chapter Bangalore, 2022.
- Honoured with “Outstanding Leadership Award” at Internet 2.0 Conference, Dubai, Dec 2022.
- Recipient of the “Women in AI” award at the Trescon World AI Show @ Dubai 2022
- Recipient of the “Women in Tech” award at the 19th Edition of Asia Pacific HRM Congress for 2021.
- Recognized as “Visionary Women Leaders 2019” by the Business APAC magazine.
Reaching the Summit
Priya’s current work involves planning and developing next-generation managed security platforms offering proactive threat detection, security automation, data-centric security, and governance for the new age of digital customers. She is also responsible for rolling out next-generation platforms that boost annuity revenues.
Over the last five years as the CTO, Priya has designed and implemented multiple Next-Gen Managed Security Platforms offering Proactive Threat Detection, Security Automation, Data-Centric Security as a service and Governance for the new-age Digital Customers. These creative solutions and platforms have been boosting annuity revenues [https://www.happiestminds.com/solutions].
These platforms have also won multiple industry awards and recognitions
- Best Security Operation Centre of the Year at the CISO Summit & Awards 2023,’
- ‘Cybersecurity Champion of the Year’ at 100 CISO Forum – Summit & Awards 2023, Dubai,
- Identity Solution of the Year 2019 by Kamikaze @ CISO Leadership Summit,
- Overall web security solution of the year @ 2nd edition CISO leadership summit.
Priya’s personality’s distinctive traits include
- Being passionate about what she does and always believes in giving her best.
- Tech edge: Priya is one of the few women leaders in tech, specifically women leaders in cyber tech across the industry.
- Her customer orientation with a solution focus.
- Being a Passionate D&I champion driving women in tech and promoting diversity within the organization, beyond her defined roles and responsibilities
As the D&I champion for Happiest Minds, Priya continuously focuses on promoting diversity in Happiest Minds, especially in the manager and mid-level leadership layers.
Mentoring Aspiring Women in Tech
Priya conceptualized a special ‘Women in Tech” initiative that has conducted so far, many episodes of webinars, fireside chats and panel discussions with multiple global women leaders across industries to promote and encourage more and more women to pick leadership roles in the information technology field.
Priya has mentored women leaders in mid-levels within the organization, specifically in the cyber security domain. Helped plan careers for and create multiple women leaders in the cyber security field
Before Happiest Minds Technologies, Priya was part of the Enterprise Security Services division of Wipro Technologies for over 12 years, delivering large Compliance and Cyber Security programs for Fortune 500 Companies across the UK and Europe regions. Priya is also the D&I champion for HappiestMinds.
Spreading Her Wisdom Wings
Priya is a Featured Author and speaker across multiple known industry forums, including ObserveNow, CyberFrat, Express computer, ETCISO, DataQuest, Mint, UBS Forums, CXO Junction, Think Teal, Dynamic CISO, Analytics India, NASSCOM, ETCIO, TechGig, Cloud Security Alliance Chapter, NIIT and StragyInc and more.
Priya’s publications, blogs and POVs have added immense value to the cybersecurity industry and helped many CXOs plan their cyber security strategies for proactive cyber-attack prevention. Priya also helped multiple customer organizations identify their cyber security maturity and risk posture by working closely with their IT, security and leadership teams and with the definition of IT and security objectives, priorities and strategy planning.
As the CTO, Priya plays a significant role in defining the organisation’s service portfolios and go-to-market strategies, thus boosting the org-wide revenues.
Fostering Next-Gen Solutions
Priya’s key contributions and solutions offered to enterprise customers across the globe are listed below:
- IdentityVigil (https://www.happiestminds.com/solutions/identityvigil/): Happiest Minds trademarked solution Identity Vigil 2.0 is a highly scalable 360-degree IDaaS platform that provides next-gen cloud-based IdM built on principles of Zero Trust.
- ThreatVigil (https://www.happiestminds.com/solutions/threatvigil/): ThreatVigil 2.0 is one of the leading threat management solutions that offer an on-demand, cloud-based penetration testing platform developed by Happiest Minds Technologies for various enterprise segments.
- CRPP – Cyber Risk Protection Platform (https://www.happiestminds.com/solutions/next-gen-cyber-risk-protection-platform-crpp/): based on the best practices and essential data sources defined by Mitre att@ck, contributes to effective detection of a cyber-attack and faster prevention and resolution using SOAR techniques.
- Ellipse (https://www.happiestminds.com/solutions/ellipse/): A modular PaaS solution with multiple tools integration, ELLIPSE is supported by a powerful analytics backend coupled with machine learning capabilities.
Her work as a D&I Champion
- Conceptualized a special ‘Women in Tech” initiative bringing together many industry women leaders, conducted multiple episodes of webinars, fireside chats and panel discussions to promote importance of diversity at work place and setting role models for women leadership
- ‘Women leader in each tech tower’ initiative to promote and hire women leaders across each cyber tech tower within the organization.
- A 50% induction of campus hires into cyber security fields in the organization.
- Women-friendly policies to encourage more women to pick cyber skills/roles that are 24*7 nature [special provisions for women-friendly shifts, career planning for mid-level women leaders and returning moms, etc.]
- Act as a professional mentor and advisor to many aspiring women to plan a career in cyber security. She conducted multiple sessions going to university campuses to encourage women graduates to choose careers in cyber security.
- Devising solutions and work-life balance career plans for female employees in the team to continue and grow in cyber security.
- Design and conceptualization of women’s exclusive hackathon annual event through Happiest Minds to promote women in cyber tech [returning mom initiative, cross-skilling to encourage women in cyber, women exclusive drives across India for cyber security hires, etc., to name a few.]
Some of Priya’s publications in the diversity promotion space include:
- Rendezvous with Smriti Jain on TOI Business Bytes, sharing insights into career journey, listing out the top jobs for women in the technology field, career lessons and crucial turning points for women entrepreneurs aspiring to make it big in the startup space (https://bit.ly/3Zsxc5W).
- Article published in the Times of India for International Women’s Day 2023 titled “What Role Models Have to Say.”
- POV published in Track.in for International Women’s Day 2023 titled “Find out the expectations of Women Entrepreneurs Founders CEO’ Leaders.”
- Article published in Times Techies on the topic of “Career Leaders for Women.”
Indian Women’s Giant Leap in STEM
According to Priya, there has never been a better time than now for women in IT and tech in India. The ratio of women employed in the IT industry in India has risen constantly over the past 20 years. Women represent 50% of the graduates in the STEM field now, while they make up over 30% of the IT workforce in India. This is in total contrast to the Western world, where women’s representation in tech fields is far less and declining. Indian Tech firms should continue to encourage women empowerment and introduce numerous women-friendly policies to promote workplace diversity and women’s leadership.
Diversity, inclusion, equal opportunities in the workplace and creating a friendly and encouraging work environment for women have become part of strategic objectives for many organizations. Women have the opportunity to choose from a variety of academic choices and career opportunities in STEM.
To be successful and make it to the top, women must create a supporting ecosystem in their personal and professional lives. Priya says, “Focus on constantly learning and challenging yourself. Do not hesitate to ask for help when needed. Also, clearly define long-term goals along with short-term objectives that help you achieve long-term goals. Ally-ship is very important amongst fellow women professionals, and so is finding the right sponsor/mentor to support and guide through career progressions and challenges. For more information, you can connect with me at https://www.linkedin.com/in/priya-kanduri/.”