"There are opportunities, but women doubt their abilities": Q&A with Bhuvana Vijayan from Zalando

November 12, 2019 | Bhuvana Vijayan, Zalando


As Gold sponsors of European Women in Technology 2019, Bhuvana Vijayan, Head of Engineering at Zalando, talked to us about why she is excited to be involved in this year's event and what advice she would give to women in tech going into 2020... 

Tell us a little bit about yourself...

Hi, I am Bhuvana, Head of Engineering at Zalando. I come from India and have been living in Germany for a little over 10 years. After my engineering degree, I started working in the IT and software industry and it has been a long journey ever since. I have learnt in my years of work experience that building a team and working together collaboratively is the key to successful performances. I keep a positive attitude and enjoy facing challenges. 


What’s a typical day at work like for you?

Well, one thing that I do every day is attend meetings. Meetings that involve status updates, information sharing, decision making, problem-solving and one-on-ones.  Apart from meetings and documenting the notes, a good part of my day is dedicated to planning the work and capacity for the upcoming weeks by analysing the work in progress and stakeholder requests, as well as prioritising product development.


What excites you most about working in the tech industry?

The ambiguity and the various opportunities in the industry keep me motivated. Being able to solve something that really matters to customers and looking into the customer experience, learning from them and creating systems to enhance the customer journey excites me.


What is the best part about working for Zalando?

The multi-cultural environment, the ability to learn and grow, and the product development process are some of the best things about Zalando. 


Why have you decided to get involved with European Women in Technology?

I am particularly interested in building connections with female tech leaders, to meet and learn from experts across various industries and hear different perspectives on technological revolutions. I am also interested in diversity and inclusion topics and how this topic is handled in IT industries across Europe.


What will you be speaking about at the conference and why have you chosen this topic?

I will be speaking about customer-centric products and software development. This is something my teams at Zalando have been focussing on. We want to make sure that every product and feature we build is remarkably improving the customer’s digital experience. We have gathered feedback from our customers through different mechanisms and have tried to understand what the customer’s actual needs are and to be honest, it’s not one thing, it's a mixture of many things that the customers expect from Zalando. I am excited to be working on some interesting topics that we have uncovered while understanding our customers.


What advice would you give to women who work in the tech industry?

The simple advice I would share is don’t be afraid to face the challenge, start with a positive attitude, stay strong, set your goals and don’t give up your values.


Who is your female tech inspiration and why?

Sheryl Sandberg: I read the book Lean In and took away some key notes: Sheryl wrote about the barriers that women create for themselves through internalising discrimination and societal gender roles. She says that women need to break down the societal and personal barriers and strive for leadership roles. Women should lean into leadership roles and create equal opportunities. This was a moment of realising that there are opportunities, but women doubt their abilities and at times fall prey to societal barriers. She is an inspiring speaker and every time I get a chance to watch her or read about her, I learn something new.

Susan Wojcicki: I think it’s just incredible to see that she is a mother of 5 and plays such an important role in one the internet giant companies. I really wonder how she strikes the work, life, career balance.

There are other inspirational women as well, though not from the tech sector but from the business world. I am inspired by Indra Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo, whose global strategic initiatives uplifted the company's sales growth by 80%. She was ranked most powerful woman by Fortune in 2009 and 2010.


What advice would you give to women who want to pursue a career in tech?

The tech industry has varied opportunities. First of all, find your field of interest and double-down on it, continue to learn and grow. Look for mentors for guidance and support. 

Join 4,000+ industry professionals for two days of career-boosting workshops, inspiring keynotes and networking opportunities at European Women in Technology on November 26-27.


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