Priya Prabhu’s intro in her own words:
There are girls and there are women. Then there are also some ladies. Born in Karnataka and brought up completely in Bombay, India, girls convent educated, computer engineering graduate from Bombay University. Do you get the drift? Yes, I lived the life of a typical 90s kid in India. Or did I? Destiny, or maybe just some luck and good fortune took me to England. (Surprise, surprise, I mean an Indian student going to England or US of A is as common as having a breakfast of toast and butter.)
I completed my post-graduate degree in Information systems here, worked, traveled half the world and here I am. As of today, I am working with a large multinational company headquartered in Bombay. Like I say, that is all about my professional journey. I am also a glass painter, avid traveler and a volunteer – things that are close to my heart. Off and on, I do write articles about social causes for various groups and magazines besides of course contributing my experiences to my own travel blog. I am compassionate about animals, I LOVE dogs-Siberian Huskies being my favorite breed. Okay, maybe even St. Bernard. Also Golden Retrievers. Sigh. (Clearly, I am that neighborhood girl who goes gaga over anyone’s pet).
How did you come to the UK? For studies or as a dependent?
I came to the UK on my own as a student in the beautiful city of Sheffield. I chose to complete my MSc in Information technology.
What were the challenges you faced during/after your transition from India to here? How did you overcome those challenges?
Luckily, I knew a couple of seniors in Sheffield who had reserved a room for me. It was a quaint little ‘en-suite’ up in the attic area of a house. Adjusting to the sloping ceiling and one little ‘owl window’ was a challenge in itself. My room was minimalist but I loved it nonetheless. The way universities and libraries operated were different but we got used to it eventually. Cooking, working part-time and juggling assignments became a routine slowly but steadily. Adopting to the rainy and gloomy Yorkshire weather was an experience too. I must add here, universities have tremendous support to assist students, particularly international students, in making them feel at home. We were given guidance for basic essential stuff such as traffic rules and regulations, life in England, opening bank accounts, help with accommodation and employment. The Student’s union also had plenty of activities every month to make life enjoyable.
What did you do your Masters in? How do you think this education has helped you in your career?
I did my Masters in Information technology with major subjects in the Data warehousing and data management arena. While it was a good mix of practical and theory, there was plenty of research for the thesis project and other assignments throughout the year. Having a three-semester pattern, I had classes over summer too. When I got placed in a technical consultancy near London, I was initially apprehensive of how things would shape up. But gradually, applying data management concepts from my learning at university and guidance from my seniors helped.
What do you attribute your success to?
Success means different things to different people. Having worked with both technical and business teams, I have come to learn that success has multiple definitions. I still have a long way to go to call myself ‘successful’. I must say though- patience, hard work, and effective business communication skills have brought me so far. I stay focused on my life goals. Also one has to strive to continue to learn in these days of volatile markets and dynamic changes.
What were your initial days as a student like?
Honestly, the initial days were full of mixed emotions. A part of me missed home and a part of me was eager to take the new life as a student abroad. Getting used to the lecture and practical session schedules, using the library resources online effectively, discovering supermarkets, shops and local markets in Sheffield, travelling around to Old Trafford and York remain etched in my memory like the ‘good old days’. The week-long university induction session was interactive and we got to meet a lot of students from out batch. I also met a lot of exchange students from other European countries.
What were your initial days in your first job like? What challenges did you face to be where you are now? How did you overcome them?
The initial days had some challenges not only with adjusting to the new work set up but also my new apartment. Initially, I was shadowing a senior team member at work. Gradually, I learned how to handle things and work on my own. Decision making was the biggest learning on my job. One has to take decisions based on trends and one’s instinct based on the ‘now’. That has by far been the greatest learning. Also, one has to keep going back to being a child and constantly keep learning in today’s highly competitive world and disruptive market scenario.
What do you value most in your job/profession?
Being a semi-techie, at my work, that sense of satisfaction of having done something valuable either for the business teams, collaborating with development teams to develop a new solution or product is the most valuable to me. Our generation, I believe, lays a lot of emphasis on the work culture of any organisation. I am not different there and choose to work with companies who provide a certain level of ‘freedom of creativity’ and flexible culture.
What does work-life balance mean to you?
Work-life balance is of utmost importance to one and all. We work to earn money and therefore a good life and health. Going to extremes with workload will not help in the long run if one’s health is ruined. It is very vital that one must plan one’s activities, tasks and meetings with great care to ensure our team and we are all striking a good balance.
What is your advice to the younger folks who aspire to pursue their education and careers in Technology?
My biggest continual advice to all those who I mentor is just – keep it simple, do not complicate things. The iPhone might be simple to use, but that is its most valuable USP- Simplicity. Like my tagline from long ago- captivate, create, charm and inspire. There are some of us who will specialize in a product, there are some who might specialize in a certain functionality. There is constant debate about which is the way to go and I guess it is for each of us professionals to choose. Either way, ensure your skills are up-to-date and you stay employable and useful to the industry you choose.
Author: Priya Prabhu
Priya Prabhu lives in what she still likes to call the city of dreams- Bombay. Former Londoner, travel blogger, glass painter, voracious reader, sassy sister, doting daughter and an IT professional best describe as to what she has made herself to be today. In her own humble words – Traveling to 23 countries across the world so far hasn’t changed her values, but certainly changed her perceptions about things. She can be reached at email@example.com