Our first Spotlight Saturday gives us an opportunity to learn more about one of our Women in Tech Caribbean members, Sowmya Thottambeti. She hails from The Bahamas and describes herself as a vivacious, free-spirited woman, a highly sociable introvert and an adrenaline junkie at heart. Sowmya’s professional background is in software and data engineering. However, she did not always want to pursue this career path. She originally had a keen interest in connecting things and building physical products, so she pursued her education in electronics and telecommunications. It was not until her first internship that she started to fall in love with programming, as she noticed how she was still able to build and connect things, although it was in a different way than what she had planned.
As a Software Engineer who currently works at Nike, Sowmya is fueled by the value and impact she brings to people in the things that she creates. When asked to describe her typical day as a Nike Software Engineer, Sowmya shared that after daily standup meetings, she spends most of her day writing and testing code while listening to her favourite music. Her days don’t always look the same, so when she’s not coding, she sometimes takes a stroll in the employee store after a heavy meal, meets with a colleague or participates in office activities. She ends each day with a “pumped gym session” and finally leaves the office with a “sweaty red face!” The Nike work culture ensures that there is never a dull day at the office.
Sowmya has worked on many projects over the years, and one of her favourite projects entailed working on the content management tool which creates webpages for Nike.com. It was enlightening for her to see the behind-the-scenes processes for what millions of users see every day. Another one of her favourite projects was a monitoring system used to track the quality of water in public reservoirs. These projects are special to her because she enjoys working on impactful solutions and as an engineer, it brings her great joy when she sees people using something that she has worked on. Currently, Sowmya is working on a project that will tackle the service industry within The Bahamas and shed more light on local businesses. A minimal viable product will be launched this year (2022), and it will be her first project of this calibre. Apart from working on these projects, she is most excited about the countless opportunities to innovate and solve pressing issues in the tech industry. She indicated that digital technologies are actively addressing several concerns presented in the United Nations’ sustainable development goals. Thus, her enthusiasm comes from creating inclusive technologies with high societal impact.
Like many young professionals, Sowmya has experienced her fair share of challenges, such as the Imposter Syndrome. She shared that surrounding herself with personable and encouraging people who serve as inspiration and companions, has been helpful throughout this journey. Although working as a young tech professional can be demanding, Sowmya emphasizes the importance of a good work-life balance. She has hobbies, friends, and other things that she loves to do that aren’t related to technology. These things remind her that there is an entire domain out there outside of her everyday occupation, and she advises other young professionals to find something that brings them joy and keeps them moving and balanced.
To young girls interested in pursuing a software engineering career, Sowmya’s advice is to constantly probe various subject matters, ask questions and to find a mentor. She remarked that “it serves immense value to have someone who has been there done that and can give sound advice on your future career. When I first started university, I was confused about everything. All that I know now is from trial and error. If I had someone to guide me, things would have been a lot easier.”
Sowmya enjoys connecting with others, so if you would like to connect with her or follow her journey, you can find her and reach out to her on social media — Instagram (@scottie.poppin) & Twitter (@thottambeti_).