The month of March – Women’s History Month – celebrates the contributions and achievements women have made throughout history in a variety of fields. In honor of this tribute, Neha Misra, an Engineering Development Manager at Stratus Technologies, talks about what inspires her, what she’s learned throughout her career, and what it’s like to be a woman in engineering.
What do you do at Stratus and What do you Love Most About it?
As the Engineering Manager of ftServer Development, I oversee the next generation of the Stratus ftServer platform. I collaborate with members of the business line management and engineering teams as well as our development partners to define the requirements of our forward-looking ftServer product line and the development of the product from conception to release.
Having the opportunity to work with such talented and accomplished people is something I look forward to every day when I come to Stratus. I’ve worked at Stratus for 12 years now and actually started as an intern. So, seeing it grow and being a part of that growth is something I really enjoy.
Did you Expect to be in this Role 10 Years Ago? How has the Transition been from Software Engineer to Manager? What have you Learned Along the Way?
I always knew I wanted to be in the engineering management role but felt I needed the technical experience as an engineer before I transitioned into management. Thankfully I was able to get both opportunities at Stratus, for which I’m fortunate.
The transition from software engineer to manager, however, was not easy. The biggest difference between the two roles is that as an Individual Contributor you determine your success, but as a manager, it is the accomplishments of your team that determines your success. It’s my responsibility to enable, help and lead my team to success.
Throughout my years at Stratus, I learned that there are multiple factors in play when developing a product, such as the requirements, features, strategy, etc., and that those factors all must work in complete unison to achieve the best outcome. I’ve also learned the hard way that we are responsible for our own growth. If we don’t pursue the opportunities presented to us or search for them on our own, we’re at risk of falling behind. Thankfully I’ve had instrumental mentors who’ve helped me through my transition. And even now I have a supportive and capable teamthat has helped me succeed.
Who are the Women that have Inspired you the Most, Past or Present?
No one woman has inspired me, I am lucky to be surrounded by so many strong women – at home, in my friend group and at work. I’m able to draw inspiration from all the women in my life and every woman that I meet every day. Each of these individuals are unique and have different strengths, talents, and lives that motivate me.
I think we as women try so hard to look for other strong, influential women to inspire us, but I feel true inspiration can come from anyone – male, female, adult, child or even an experience. There are a lot of influential people that we can take inspiration from if we don’t limit ourselves. I am on a constant path of self-improvement and I try to learn lessons from each of my experiences and everyone I meet.
Being Women’s History Month, tell us more about the History of Women in your Family and how that Influenced your Career Path
I have been lucky to have a strong inspiring female role model right from birth. My mom, a housewife who decided to go back to school after raising two children, was able to pursue her dream in fashion design. She then went on to open her own boutique and start a fashion line. My mother has instilled in both me and my brother that the sky is the limit and we can achieve whatever we dream. And thanks to her, I got to where I am today because I’ve never felt that there was something I couldn’t do or achieve in life.
What were some of the Biggest Challenges you faced as a Woman in Engineering Early in your Career and how have Things Changed Since?
As a woman, it was and at times still is, definitely harder to earn respect, especially in a management role. But as I’ve worked hard and ultimately grown in my role, I’ve also earned the respect of my peers and my team alike. The key to being successful is having great mentors, especially as a woman. Again, I have been lucky in that respect as well.
What Advice Would you Give to Young Girls or Women starting their Careers in the Engineering Field?
Seek good mentors. Find capable mentors who you can learn from, who can guide you and who will help you grow. I’d also advise to take full advantage of every opportunity and never stop. You must be seeking out opportunities so that when you are ready (and when they arise), and you can grab it.