Advice from/for Women in Technology from SAP Experts at Applied Materials

Heather Whitfield

Heather Whitfield, Program Manager Head of Operations – Robotic Process Automation (RPA) at Applied Materials 

and

Reva Chandrashekaran

Revathi Chandrashekaran, SAP Basis Consultant

offer a female perspective on the importance of change management, specifically for SAP projects, as they discuss a recent project they underwent. Read Applied Materials’ full case study, “How Applied Materials’ Cutting-Edge Change Management Approach Enables Fast Response to Dynamic Business Needs,” which appears online and in the Q4 edition of SAPinsider Magazine. Here, they also answered some questions on what it’s like being a women in a male-dominated tech industry.

With only 26% of professional computing jobs being held by women, it’s not uncommon for large IT meetings to be mostly (if not all) men. In these types of situations, women often worry about being the only woman or being ignored. “The advice someone once gave me was ‘Always sit at the table,’ but I didn’t truly understand what that meant until I went into my first big meeting within IT and it was all men,” says Whitfield, who originally got her degree in business law, but after landing an internship at a company in the semiconductor industry, her journey veered away from law and toward technology. Over her career, she moved from SAP project management to testing and most recently to robotic process automation. “Even if you’re nervous or uncomfortable, have the confidence to literally take a seat at the table,” she says. “Don’t have that negative self-talk. Be authentic. Make yourself heard. Ask questions. Just be present and be part of the whole.”

Chandrashekaran recommends that women seize every opportunity presented to them. Starting her career off in human resources, it wasn’t long before she discovered an interest in technology. After taking some courses and getting certified, she soon found herself at Applied Materials working in change control and release management. “You never know where your journey will take you next,” she says. “Look at me: six months ago, I never would have expected or imagined that I would end up learning RPA — and here I am.”

Whitfield adds that it is vitally important for women to make a point to support other women more often, especially those who have considerable experience and valuable learnings to share. “If you’ve made your way up the ladder, turn around and lend a hand to help the next person,” she says. “We should always be looking for those opportunities to help other women climb up.”