In the run-up to national women’s equality day Women’s Day on the 8th March 2018, we are paying homage to 7 women who have made a name for themselves in the world of technology. We are honouring women leaders in technology, who are quietly making a difference in their field. In this series, the women in tech industry personally share their experiences and challenges while also giving us a glimpse into the lessons that they have learnt along the way. In her own words, Priti Moudgill shares her story.
Looking back at my career path, it’s obvious I took the scenic route. There were some wild digressions like when I decided to turn fashion designer/manufacturer and another time when my focus was entirely on licensing IP. During my detours, I learnt a lot about essential aspects of business and fashion.
Growing up, almost everyone I knew was an engineer or scientist. Mixing in these circles, I became fluent in steel compositions, thermal profiles and oxygen lances. It seemed perfectly natural to have an affinity for all things tech.
I started working at the intersection of hardware and fashion when I founded Peripherii with my partner Sonal Budhiraja. Our bi-coastal partnership works because we both reside in two power centres, Sonal in the Silicon Valley and I in NY.
I am a big advocate for science education for everyone. It forces you to be curious, to think logically and rationally, and once you have that, everything else comes very very quickly. As women in technology, we have had many conversations about what is keeping women away from tech. For most women with a strong grounding in science and math, technology becomes very accessible. I can say with absolute certainty that it is not due to the lack of ability or some intrinsic/genetic shortcomings in women.
Looking back on my career, I remember a group of men who used to play golf together after work. They were a friendly group. They trusted each other, and as far as I could tell they did not intentionally leave out women from their golfing trips; women just didn’t join in. So when they promoted, they promoted who they knew. This made me realize that networking matters! The lack of networking opportunities is probably one of the reasons why fewer women get promoted. This, unfortunately, leads to a shrinking pipeline of mentors. So it is imperative that you build a network, maintain it, grow it, and keep up with the latest advances in your field.
As a woman entrepreneur, I lead by example. I always make sure to earn the respect of my team, and whenever I am faced with a dilemma, I fall back on my principles to find the moral courage to follow through. Also, I am addicted to online courses: Coursera, The Great Courses, Khan Academy. I make it a point to spend at least a few hours every week on them. I don’t like staring at a screen, so I listen to articles on my smart-earrings while doing chores. I subscribe to journals like Scientific American; follow several researchers on Twitter; attend lectures at local universities/labs such as Nevis and Brookhaven. When it comes to learning, I am a dedicated opportunist.
As for the most significant transformation in technology that I have witnessed in my career, it has to be the smartphone. Also, the shrinking screen is a transformation that is happening right now before our eyes. In place of the screen, speech/voice tech is going to gain momentum because of its smaller cognitive load as well as it’s more natural, on-the-go usability. Augmented reality is another technology that is poised for explosive growth, and that will eat into the current dominance of the screen interface. In some scientific communities there’s breathless anticipation of the so-called “singularity”; but I think that still belongs in the realm of science fiction for the foreseeable future.