Interaction- Deepa K, Information Security Architect, ManageEngine

Resolving the challenges of the IT business world is important in these times. Deepa Kuppuswamy, Information Security Architect, ManageEngine discusses this with us in an exclusive interaction.

What are the challenges you face in your work?

Deepa Kuppuswamy – Looking back over my 20-year career, I can see substantial growth in women’s roles in the tech industry both at the entry level and the mid and high ranks. However, it’s still a road paved with various challenges. The unconscious bias morphed, as well-intended concerns sometimes make women lose out on important opportunities. Assumptions on whether we’ll be able to handle travelling for client meetings, be available for late-night incident calls, or, for mothers, balance the demands of work alongside the rigors of motherhood all affect the career trajectory of women in the workforce.

Another thing that can limit women’s career growth is lack of networking opportunities. Often a lot of knowledge sharing happens offline and in non-official settings. Men learn or share a lot in conversations during breaks and social gatherings.

Then there is the elusive work-life balance we all strive to achieve. The challenges are different depending on what stage of your career you’re at. While everyone struggles with work-life balance, women often struggle more due to the societal conditions imposed on them—namely, the assumption that they will take responsibility for the majority of household duties, and the pressure to be perfect to prove their commitment to work. Women often end up sacrificing their career, and retaining women in management positions has been a challenge.

How do you resolve these challenges?

Deepa Kuppuswamy – Zoho has been an equal opportunity employer in all aspects, and we have women in various positions and leadership levels. The flexible work policy, having a network of trusted mentors of all genders, and being given the freedom to voice my opinions and constructive criticism have helped a lot in shaping my career. I want to give the same opportunities to other women in my organisation, guiding them and ensuring their work gets recognised.

Positive and assertive communication has been a key asset that I’ve picked up in my career. It’s important to take ownership of your career path. That means expressing yourself clearly and being an advocate for your own interests. Be a continuous learner and always take on new challenges—be vocal that you’re ready, and never underestimate your talent and capabilities. Even if you feel you’re not completely ready, you’ll learn on the job.

Be clear on your priorities. There’s no such thing as doing everything yourself. You have to prioritise what’s important, get help when you need it, and delegate when you can. Building a strong support system—family, friends and neighbors—goes a long way.

Allocate personal time for self-care, both on the professional and personal front. Be it learning the next new technology, doing a course to expand your domain expertise, travelling somewhere, or engaging in your hobbies, taking time for yourself helps give you the energy and focus you need to tackle bigger challenges.

How do you maintain work-life balance while remotely working from home?

Deepa Kuppuswamy – At the start of the pandemic and the switch to working from home, I planned to have a well-thought-out schedule for each day, with clear boundaries between work and personal time. Looking back, it has worked out well in terms of spending more time with my family and turning my commute into productive hours.

But the reality also has another angle: the never-ending interruptions from a bored kid at home, the chaotic schedules of family members, online meeting fatigue, and questions from colleagues rolling in after hours. All these end up draining the workday. For sure, I have missed the office space and being able to focus on work without being interrupted.

Over time, I’ve learned to embrace it. Multitasking and switching context on a dime is inevitable, so it’s important to learn to prioritise. Setting boundaries among your family and coworkers helps. I have set aside blocks of time for team meetings and brainstorming sessions. Having a support system to fall back on and share household responsibilities helps with getting through these uncertain times.

What is the acceptance graph of Cloud security in India?

Deepa Kuppuswamy – We’ve seen widespread cloud adoption across industries of various sizes, from small startups to Fortune 500 companies. Cloud computing is firmly established as the new normal for enterprise IT. Across industries, the cloud continues to be one of the fastest-growing areas on which organisations are spending their IT budget, and the pandemic has only accelerated this adoption. Cloud security is a key consideration during this rapid growth.

When it comes to cloud security, there’s both positive and negative news. Moving to the cloud does provide better security, as cloud providers invest a lot in terms of resources and technologies when compared to what most enterprises do for their on-premises infrastructure. The top public cloud providers are quick to fix vulnerabilities to keep customers’ data protected, and they provide better resiliency. On the downside, we have seen a lot of Indian companies hit by public cloud security incidents over the last year. A major chunk of the reported cyberattacks were the result of security misconfigurations or stolen cloud account credentials.

The truth of the matter is that cloud security is a shared responsibility. Generally, cloud service providers are responsible for the security of the cloud, and customers are responsible for securing the data they put in the cloud. The key to a successful security implementation in a cloud environment is understanding where your provider’s responsibility ends and where yours begins.

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