International Women’s Day spotlight: Kiran Sharma

In honor of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, we’re celebrating outstanding Fivetran women, starting with our teammate Kiran.
March 8, 2021

People have been celebrating International Women’s Day since 1911, when more than one million men and women in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland attended rallies in support of voting rights, labor rights and anti-discrimination laws. Every March 8th, people gather across the world to celebrate the achievements of women, protest gender inequality, and recommit themselves to fighting for a gender-equal world. An important part of that vision is gender parity in the workplace, and we know we can’t get there without increasing the visibility of professional women and honoring their contributions.

Starting today and throughout Women’s History Month, we will be sharing the experiences and perspectives of four Fivetran women. Based in Bengaluru, Dublin and Oakland, they’re natural leaders who make Fivetran a stronger company and a better place to work. We asked for their thoughts on a range of issues, including how to sustain professional growth, where to look for career inspiration, and what advice they would give to their younger selves.

We kick off the series with Kiran Sharma, Lead Customer Success Engineer in Bengaluru, India.

Who’s a woman who has made a positive impact on your career?

Definitely my mom. She’s a working professional. She is a state police officer, and when she got the job it was really difficult culturally for working women. Then she had to balance work and family while raising five daughters. She would wake up at four o'clock in the morning, do all the household chores, and get all of us ready for school. She'd go to the office, come back to feed us lunch, and go back to the office. She'd come back to make dinner, finish everything, and go to sleep really late, after all our homework had been taken care of.

During this time she felt a lot of pressure to leave her job, but she knows how to balance things and she has the power of being extremely patient. She chose her path and just kept going. I've gotten from her that you never stop running. You grow and you learn. You let people say whatever they are saying. You just keep a unidirectional focus and reach your destination.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Speak up for yourself more often. It's okay to not fit in. Everybody has their own personality and you can have yours. I learned that really late in my life. All my friends used to say this and post it on social media. It's very easy to say, but it’s much harder to start doing that in your life.

I'll give you an example from a project that I worked on in the beginning of my career. I had a manager who would not let me take lunch and would make me work longer hours than my male colleagues. Promotion opportunities were going somewhere else, but just based on merit and hard work they should have come to me.

So I spoke up a little and was told that women take too many holidays, and they didn’t want to give women important roles on projects. I should have taken that to HR or my project manager, because if it was happening to me, it was probably happening to somebody else also. So I regret that I didn’t take action.

How do you continue to grow professionally?

Well, in order to grow in a startup, you have to learn to divide your attention into multiple areas, because so many things are happening at once. So many changes happen in the same month or even the same day. Over time I learned to be flexible and plan my days accordingly.

Also, as a support team member, I need to know what is happening in support around the globe. I belong to a few professional groups, and look for suggestions and insights. Whatever is applicable for Fivetran I bring that up with my manager to see if we can implement that.

Another thing I do, when I have time, is read Slack messages from relevant groups. Going through these discussions, you start to understand other people’s challenges and problems. Often you find very, very good solutions that you just could not see because you didn’t have enough time, but now you can apply them going forward.

Who’s a woman you draw inspiration from?

Whitney Herd, the Bumble CEO. She is the youngest self-made billionaire. I believe that change is the only constant thing, and that it is something we really should be fine with, because it’s going to happen whether or not you like it. So I really admire people who are able to drive change. She saw that there was nothing in the market where women could initiate networking, business, friendships, everything, and really take charge of the conversation. So she created an app with three verticals: dating, friendship and business networking.

That initiative, risk-taking ability and unidirectional focus for the six years before Bumble went public are just absolutely commendable. If I wake up one day with that kind of initiative, risk-taking ability or confidence, I think the world will be mine.

What would you do if you weren’t working in tech?

Definitely I would be a yoga teacher, although I still have some training to do before I actually become a fully certified yoga teacher. I like yoga because it works emotionally as well as physically. It’s not like you do it for six months and you just have a flat stomach. It makes you a lot calmer, and it connects you to yourself. Yoga is a way I can give back to society, a way to provide people a little share of well-being.

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