Lifting as we grow
One of the main motives of WomenTechMakers Chennai is to celebrate women in the industry. Women who pursue tech passionately and inspire others to do so.
When we wanted to write a feature blog of such women in the community The first choice was pretty obvious.
Shiny S U — A professor who is always passionate about teaching converted herself into a mentor of KCG’s programming club to focus only on what she loved doing the most — Learning and Teaching.
She says “I learn things looking forward to teaching it to my students and that motivates me to do more”.
Road not taken
How far will you go to pursue your passion? Will you quit your job, will you give up climbing the corporate ladder, will you give up the possibility of becoming a Project manager or VP of engineering. Yes, Shiny gave it all up just to pursue teaching.
“It was always teaching. I knew that. When I had my first kid, I knew it was the right time for me to make the switch. I had a good TANCET score, so I started my M.E at Anna University CEG with the aim of becoming a professor.”
Engineer By Education
The dream of becoming a teacher got crushed a little when she scored good marks in her 12th board exams. Her options were only to go for medical or Engineering. She joined Noorul Islam College in Nagercoil closer to her home.
“The beauty of our college is that they don’t spoon-feed anything, we had to learn and teach ourselves, most of the time we don’t even have books, all we had was unlimited free xerox to make copies from the library”
The Corporate Days
Shiny got placed in Cognizant via campus interview. Her job as a mainframe developer was as challenging as her life in the new city. But a support system of a good team and friends kept her comfortable.
“The day when I saw my new (mainframe) screen run in production I knew I will stick to programming for a long time. :)”
With pure dedication and work ethic, Shiny quickly grew in the company to handle a team of 4–5 people. Soon she took over a bigger project with a bigger team.
“The biggest struggle for me as a programmer converted to team lead was not dealing with people but dealing with spreadsheets, The other problem was I had to deal with US clients directly and for some time I struggled with their accents, I relied on English movies to work on my accent and it helped”
5 years into Cognizant, she got an opportunity to realize the dream of every Indian IT employee, to own a project offsite with a US client exactly around the time when she had to go through the battle of family vs career. She chose family. But both her employer and the US client wanted her to drive it. Hence her first US trip.
Did the dream of teaching came to haunt you I asked her, “Yes” she said smiling at me, “I fed it by training freshers at cognizant”
Shiny’s journey teaches us that it doesn’t matter where you start if you do what you do with pure passion you will become what you want to be.
From a Professional To a Professor
Shiny was a student of 2 colleges and was a professor at one. So she has a clear picture of what happens in the Indian Engineering arena.
I don’t really remember what I learned in UG. PG was a great experience. Since I had work experience, I could relate to what I was learning. At CEG, I was privileged to be a student of Dr.K.S.Easwara Kumar. He was an inspiration to develop an interest in data structures and algorithms.
With this, she had the motivation to impart as much as practical knowledge students as she can. When she became a professor, things were not the same as when she was doing Engineering.
Students had the wrong expectations and were expecting notes, question banks. Though she got to do teaching, everything that came along with it started killing the passion in her. “I literally had no time to prepare for the class let alone practical applications. it was either the attendance or internals or question banks”.
She started worrying whether she had to let go of teaching completely. Fortunately, another chance presented itself. KCG kick-started a bunch of clubs for students from toastmasters to poetry. One of the clubs was an interdepartmental programming club. Shiny and Sowmya drove it. This gave her the confidence to drop off her professor cape.
When you do good work, people won’t let you go that easily. That has exactly happened to Shiny. KCG wanted her to continue driving programming club hence the New Avatar.
The New Avatar
Shiny is now leading the programming club at KCG, every Saturday she gathers 50 students of programming club and teaches them to new technologies. She also brings in alumni to help students find a balance between programming and academics.
Shiny is a firm believer in Build2Learn so she makes sure students get to build an app using what they learn every week.
“Yes, there were dropouts, Yes there were students who think academics alone will do it, but the ones who stayed, nothing can stop them not whether the college is working or flooding they will be there every Saturday working on their mini-projects and for me that’s the true success of my programming club — A shift in students mindset”
Q & A With Shiny
What is your dream education system look like?
A system wherein students understand the value of education and learn for themselves. Not for their parents or teachers.
Do you think womenintech initiatives are important?
Womenintech initiatives are very important to motivate our girls to code. Despite all these communities, the number of girls who can code is still low. Our programming club has just 16% of girls. We need to help them break their shells and come out.
Who do you want to thank?
— many faces come to my mind :)
- Dorai sir. I can’t thank him enough for his unconditional support. He is my guide, mentor and good friend. Whatever I do today wouldn’t be possible without his support
- Annie ma’am(Director of KCG) for her trust in me. She gave me an opportunity to join back at KCG after a career break of two years. And when I wanted to leave my role as an assistant professor, she once again trusted me with the programming club.
Teaching should be a two-way street. Both teachers and students should not restrict themselves within the classrooms. It won’t hurt to go and extra mile explore opportunities outside the walls of the system. When teaching becomes a give and take as we have in programming club, learning will no longer be a burden.