#DigitalEmpowersUs Interview Series: Women in Tech with TCS' Anita Selvakumari

Anita Selvakumari is an experienced professional in the information technology and services industry. She has been working at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), an IT services, consulting and business solutions organization, for almost 20 years. She currently serves as a client partner and began her career at TCS in 2000 as a program manager. In her free time she enjoys volunteering and running. She is a 2-time Ultra Marathoner and 7-time Marathoner. I sat down with her to learn more about her work at TCS and her experience as a woman in the technology field.

— Alexa Miller, Director, Digital Empowers National Campaign

Who is someone you look to as your wonder woman?

There are a couple of them. One is Aarthi Subramanian, who is the only female leader in our Board of Directors and the second is TCS’s Chief Diversity Officer, Ritu Anand.  Both are charting new paths for the company and personify TCS values of excellence and pioneering.

Talk to us in more detail about some of the other women and/or social impact projects you’ve worked on in your career. 

I’ve been engaged with community programs and volunteers for a very long time, about 10-12 years. Lately, I've been involved in a TCS program called Leaders with Purpose. As part of this program, TCS trains company leaders to identify local needs—we’ve worked on issues from health and hunger to education. The leaders come up with actionable steps to engage with these communities on a long-term basis and also measure the impacts of the solutions they provide over a period of six months. This was a very inspiring program for me and I’ll be leading an effort to connect my company to the work that a NYC-based nonprofit is doing inspiring young women in health and fitness. 

I’m personally very motivated by this due to having a very unhealthy adolescence. I know firsthand the connection between emotional health and physical health and want to inspire young women down that path. It’s so important starting that lifestyle while young to help later on balance life in the corporate world and a healthy lifestyle. 

What were your biggest hurdles being a women in tech and your most “prized” achievement? 

Coincidentally enough, the biggest hurdles that I have faced come with every time that I have received a promotion or a big opportunity. I was overcome by this feeling or need to prove myself and the quality of my work. I'm here because I'm really good at what I do—and it’s this feeling of self-actualization that is also among my greatest achievements. It's definitely through hard work and perseverance. 
TCS has ensured that it provided me with plenty of great opportunities to keep myself challenged constantly. The satisfaction I feel in this environment makes it all worth it. Women do not have enough time for self-doubt. We must persevere if not for ourselves, for all women. 

What advice would you give to young women who are trying to break into tech or other mid-career women who want to pivot into a tech field?

I would say keep pushing your limits and always try to do more beyond your comfort zone every day. The comfortable feeling means you are playing it very safe, and you're making your life very easy by not taking enough risks. It doesn't matter if you fail the first time or the hundredth. You keep on trying again, and I’m sure at the end of the day, you'll come out strong. 

One of my favorite quotes is by Eleanor Roosevelt who said, “A woman is like a tea bag. You can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water”. Unless you push your limits and try to do uncomfortable things, you can never grow beyond a certain limit. I would encourage all the young women out there to do that instead of playing it very safe.

If you could interview any business or community leader working in tech and social impact—who would it be? 

One of my favorite women leaders is Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook. I admire her because of her contribution to fostering female leadership through LeanIn.org and because of her unparalleled strength despite the tough times she has gone through in both personal and professional life.