Sugandha Sahay, Technical Program Manager, AWS

Sugandha Sahay, the award-winning technology professional and ardent advocate for responsible automation and AI integration, has truly left an indelible mark on the tech industry. Her journey commenced with a childhood fascination for technology, which blossomed into a stellar career dedicated to revolutionizing business processes using cutting-edge technology.

Starting her tech odyssey at TATA Consultancy Services, Sugandha’s passion and determination led her to Carnegie Mellon University, where she fine-tuned her skills and expertise. As she progressed through various leadership roles, Sugandha found herself at AWS as a Technical Program Manager. There, she mentored aspiring tech enthusiasts and spearheaded the implementation of groundbreaking technologies. “During my time at DataCore Software Corporation, I delved deeper into Business Process Automation, implementing responsible hyper-automation technology. I discovered the immense potential of automation in streamlining business processes, reducing errors, and maximizing efficiency, which further fueled my interest in this field,” says Sugandha.

An integral part of Sugandha’s vision is the promotion of inclusivity and diversity within the tech sector. Her active involvement with the Criya Expert Circle and the WomenTech Council showcases her commitment to making the industry a more inclusive space for all. As a respected industry expert judge for prestigious tech awards and hackathons, Sugandha continues championing innovative ideas and solutions. Sugandha remarks, “Technology is a powerful tool that can transform businesses and lives. Embracing responsible automation and AI integration is not just about efficiency; it’s about positively impacting society.”

From India to Carnegie Mellon

Significant milestones have marked Sugandha’s journey in the tech industry, each contributing to her growth as a leader and innovator. Starting her academic pursuit at the prestigious Manipal Institute of Technology in India, she laid the foundation for a career driven by perseverance, adaptability, and an insatiable thirst for continuous learning. These invaluable lessons shaped her skills and ignited her passion for problem-solving and critical thinking.

Recalling her formative years as a student, Sugandha shares, “My time as a student taught me that true growth comes from embracing challenges and never settling for mediocrity.”

The pivotal milestone of securing her first tech job at TATA Consultancy Services catapulted Sugandha into the world of technology, setting her on a trajectory of success and accomplishments. However, she knew there was much more to learn, leading her to the hallowed halls of Carnegie Mellon University. There, Sugandha refined her skills in cutting-edge technologies, developing a strong work ethic and a relentless pursuit of innovation.

Receiving her master’s degree from Carnegie Mellon University was a defining moment for Sugandha, cementing her position as a tech professional with world-class expertise. She says, “It was a humbling experience to be part of an institution that fosters innovation and encourages its students to push boundaries.”

Another significant milestone in Sugandha’s journey was the invitation to join the Expert Circle at Criya—an esteemed opportunity to mentor and support aspiring tech professionals. For Sugandha, being part of this circle is not just an honor; it’s a privilege to impart her knowledge and experiences to guide others along their paths. Through mentorship, she aims to positively impact the careers of young professionals, empowering them to shape the future of the tech industry. “Being a mentor is about more than just sharing knowledge; it’s about empowering others to achieve their full potential and making a lasting impact,” Sugandha affirms.

Navigating Challenges and Championing Diversity

When starting her career, Sugandha faced one of the most significant challenges: navigating the rapidly evolving tech landscape while pursuing her dreams in a foreign land. Adapting to the pace of change was no easy feat. Undeterred, she embraced the obstacles, persevered, and remained steadfast in her commitment to achieving her goals. Building a strong support network, seeking mentorship, and continuously upgrading her skills became the cornerstones of her journey, enabling her to overcome hurdles and grow personally and professionally. Reflecting on her experiences, Sugandha shares, “Embracing challenges has been a crucial part of my growth. Each obstacle has presented an opportunity to learn and evolve.”

As a woman carving her path in the automation field, Sugandha’s journey has been shaped by unique opportunities and challenges. She encountered biases and stereotypes in a male-dominated industry but confronted them head-on with her expertise and skillset. Through determination and hard work, Sugandha broke through barriers and inspired other women aspiring to thrive in the technology sector. Her resolve to promote diversity and inclusion in automation goes beyond her individual success. She advocates for equal opportunities, striving to empower more women to excel in this field and create a balanced tech industry.

Sugandha passionately emphasizes, “Diversity is not just a buzzword; it’s a strategic imperative. Embracing diverse perspectives fosters innovation and an enriching work environment.” At the core of Sugandha’s leadership style lie values that have shaped her into an exceptional leader. Integrity, empathy, and collaboration are the guiding principles she lives by. Leading by example, she cultivates a culture of trust and respect within her team, encouraging open communication and idea-sharing. Empowering and supporting her team members is paramount, as she believes in helping them realize their full potential and fostering their professional growth. By promoting collaboration and embracing diverse viewpoints, Sugandha harnesses the collective intelligence of her team, ensuring they work together harmoniously to achieve remarkable results.

Balancing Focus and Well-Being

Sugandha has achieved remarkable success in the tech industry and mastered the art of maintaining a balanced and purposeful life. Her approach to setting and achieving goals revolves around a clear perspective—identifying the problems she aims to solve and the value it will bring to those impacted. This focus empowers her to prioritize objectives wisely, allocating time and resources effectively. “I believe that every goal should be driven by its potential impact. Understanding the problem at hand keeps me aligned with the needs of the people I serve,” Sugandha shares.

To enhance her productivity and mental clarity, Sugandha embraces regular meditation—a practice that allows her to remain centered amidst a demanding schedule. By calming her mind, she can tackle challenges with a clear and focused mindset, making informed decisions and steering her projects towards success. Emphasizing the role of technology in her daily life, Sugandha harnesses the power of automation and AI to streamline tasks and boost efficiency. These invaluable tools keep her organized and enable her to maximize productivity, freeing up more time to dedicate to her passion for innovation.

A typical working day for Sugandha at AWS involves collaborating with teams, strategizing projects, and leading hyper-automation initiatives. She relies on effective time management and delegation to manage pressure and maintain composure. By entrusting tasks to capable team members, she can maintain a healthy work-life balance and ensure that each project receives the attention it deserves.

“I believe in leading by example and empowering my team members to take ownership of their responsibilities,” Sugandha remarks.

While dedication to her work is evident, Sugandha also understands the importance of unplugging and recharging. Taking short breaks throughout the day allows her to refresh her mind and maintain peak productivity. Beyond work, she finds joy in spending time with loved ones and engaging in activities that bring her happiness, like playing with her dog or learning new skills. “Maintaining a work-life balance is essential for overall well-being and sustained success,” Sugandha advocates.

Empowering Through Inclusivity

As a trailblazer in the tech industry, Sugandha firmly believes in the power of inclusivity to drive innovation and foster a thriving work environment. At the core of her leadership philosophy lies a commitment to creating a space where every team member feels valued, respected, and empowered to contribute their unique perspectives. By encouraging open and honest communication, Sugandha ensures that everyone’s voice is heard, creating a truly collaborative and inclusive atmosphere. “Diversity is not just a checkbox; it’s the key to unlocking new possibilities and fueling creativity,” Sugandha emphasizes.

Promoting diversity is not merely a goal but a passionate pursuit for Sugandha. She actively seeks out individuals from different backgrounds, experiences, and ideas, celebrating the richness that comes from embracing such diversity. For her, building a team that reflects the diverse world we live in is not only an aspiration but a responsibility to drive positive change in the tech industry.

To women aspiring to take on leadership roles, Sugandha shares invaluable advice rooted in her own experiences. She encourages them to have an unwavering belief in themselves and their capabilities and to surround themselves with a supportive network of mentors, peers, and allies who uplift and encourage them along their journey. “Having a strong support system is vital. It’s what helps you rise above challenges and reach new heights,” Sugandha affirms.

Embracing challenges as opportunities for growth, Sugandha advises women to fearlessly take risks and seek out resources and educational opportunities to enhance their skills and knowledge. Building strong relationships and collaborating with others is also pivotal, as these connections open doors to new perspectives and possibilities.

Above all, Sugandha reminds aspiring leaders to never underestimate the power of their dreams and the value of their unique contributions. Each role they take on, no matter how big or small, has the potential to create positive change and make a lasting impact in the world. “Believe in yourself and your vision. The leadership journey is not always easy, but with determination and resilience, you can pave the way for others,” Sugandha encourages.

Empowering the Future

Sugandha’s stellar contributions to the tech industry have not gone unnoticed, earning her a series of prestigious awards. From being honored as one of the “50 under 50 Quality Leaders 2023” by Fox Story India to receiving the “Program Manager of the Year GOLD GLOBEE® WINNER” and “Technical Professional of the Year BRONZE STEVIE® WINNER” accolades, her excellence is celebrated on a global stage.

In addition to these remarkable achievements, Sugandha was inducted into the “Hall of Fame 2023” by Passion Vista, recognizing her enduring impact and exceptional contributions. The Indian Achiever’s Award 2023, bestowed upon her by the Indian Achiever’s Forum, further solidifies her position as a trailblazer in the tech realm.

Today, Sugandha is a force to be reckoned with in the world of hyper-automation. Leading several groundbreaking programs within the Utility Computing organization, her mission is clear—to develop cutting-edge solutions that enhance business efficiency while ensuring secure implementation.

With a passion for mentorship and guiding young professionals, Sugandha actively contributes to platforms like Criya’s Expert Circle. Through this esteemed circle, she imparts her knowledge and experiences to empower aspiring tech enthusiasts, shaping the industry’s future with her guidance.

As the Marketing Director on the board of the American Association of Information Technology Professionals, Sugandha is committed to building a digital brand that echoes the organization’s commitment to excellence and innovation. Beyond her corporate endeavors, Sugandha’s passion project is co-authoring a book that focuses on helping readers identify hyper-automation opportunities and design secure solutions in their work environments. Her dedication to sharing knowledge underscores her desire to elevate the tech community and drive positive change.

Sugandha’s journey, in a nutshell, is a testament to the transformative power of passion, perseverance, and dedication. Her work revolutionizes business operations and elevates the tech industry to new heights. As she continues empowering the future through her leadership, mentorship, and groundbreaking projects, Sugandha’s legacy remains an enduring beacon of inspiration for future generations.

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