Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone to Supercharge Your Career

Sudeepti-400

Sudeepti Balepur

Driving by the Intel Santa Clara office, a sign caught Sudeepti Balepur’s eye. It was for the Design Thinking workshop being held that day. She remembered hearing about it from a colleague, and it had immediately sparked interest. Sudeepti’s work in the Custom Foundry Business Solutions Team at Intel had recently forayed into project management and she was looking to build her skills in iterative design.

Still, despite the interest, she hesitated. She didn’t know anyone there, didn’t have anyone to go with. And the workshop would last the whole day—until nearly 3 o’clock. After a quick internal debate, she decided to give it a shot. What’s the worst that could happen?

Over the next several hours (spoiler alert: she stayed for the whole event!) she discovered that the workshop would do more than just help her build a new skill.

The event kicked off with a case study, outlining the differences between what one thinks their customer needs versus what that customer actually needs. It introduced the iterative process as a tool for bridging the gap. The second half of the day was very interactive. She teamed up with 2 other women attendees, Anusha and Bindu, to take a real-life pain point, conduct customer discovery, practice iterating on the proposed solution, and eventually design a physical prototype using materials like aluminum foil, tape, post it notes, cards, and color pencils. By the end of the day, Sudeepti and her team had taken full advantage of the hands-on learning, creating a makeshift 3D model of their proposed solution!

For Sudeepti, who graduated from University of New Mexico with a Masters in Computer Science 4 years ago, this workshop was both fun and energizing. She had learned something new, while connecting with other women in the big data field.

quotes_sudeepti05-13-16When asked what her advice is for other women, she reflected on her initial dilemma to attend the event. She talked about it openly, saying, “I used to hesitate when attending such events. It’s kind of scary, not knowing anyone there, feeling like an intruder. Instead, I found the atmosphere to be warm and welcoming.” She continued on, “I’ve found that what we learn in school is not necessarily what we do in our day-to-day jobs. These networking events really help bridge that gap. Whether you’re in the market searching for a job, or just need help with your current role, you have to learn to speak up and get involved. Nobody can help you if you don’t ask for help.”

By broadening her skills, network, and influence, Sudeepti aims to grow her own career as well as those of her female colleagues working in the big data field. Inspired by the event and determined to give back, she joined the Women in Big Data Forum. Today she serves on the Training and Networking subcommittees.

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