Women in Tech: The Geek Behind the Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners

Sukrutha Raman Bhadouria fell in love with coding gradually, and uses her engineering background to make better software - first at Citrix and now as a Senior Member of Technical Staff at salesforce.com. She is also the Managing Director of Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners, where her goal is to create community so that less women drop out of the technology industry - keeping the pipeline strong for women to fill leadership positions.

This series highlights women developers, as a way to raise their visibility and hopefully break down some of the unconscious biases that block the path of women and people of color when it comes to technology jobs. This week, I take a look inside salesforce.com at someone who is delivering Salesforce1 Platform Administration tools and making an impact in the Women in Tech community. I encourage you to share these stories, and your own, with someone who doesn’t “fit” the stereotype of a programmer. In this small way, we can change the ratio.

Sukrutha Raman Bhadouria fell in love with coding gradually, and uses her engineering background to make better software – first at Citrix and now as a Senior Member of Technical Staff at salesforce.com. She is also the Managing Director of Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners, where her goal is to create community so that less women drop out of the technology industry – keeping the pipeline strong for women to fill leadership positions.

When did you learn to code? What do you love about it?

I grew up in Bangalore, India. My first exposure to coding was in second grade when we were taught Logo in school. I seriously started coding in high school and fell in love with it gradually along the way. My undergrad was in Electrical Engineering, and I moved to Los Angeles to attend graduate school at USC (University of Southern California). My master’s focus was Computer Networks, and I had to do a fair amount of programming. I enjoyed it, and an internship at Cisco opened my eyes to the many job opportunities in software, including Quality Engineering.

After grad school, I worked at Citrix for five years on GoToMeeting. I love that programming allows me to work on products people use and benefit from.

How long have you been at Salesforce? What is your role?

I have been at Salesforce since September 2013. I work as a Quality Engineer on the Salesforce1 Platform team, and recently moved from the Sharing team to the Admin team. On the Sharing team, I tested the performance impact of making the Managing Groups permission available to all users, and also ensuring that it can be turned off. On the Admin team, I’ll be testing enhancements to the core administration tools, including Profiles, Permission Sets and Delegated Admin.

At salesforce.com, there is an emphasis on innovation, for example, we have frequent internal hackathons. That is part of the reason I joined. There is also an emphasis on clean code. We have a tool called Yoda that is responsible for maintaining code quality in salesforce. Yoda is responsible for creating bugs for test failures and flappers, validating test failure fixes, and locking the code line when needed.

As a new hire, I found the sharing of information amazing. We use Chatter groups for specific technologies and for each team. I could search through conversations to find solutions to issues other people had already faced. The best part is in our weekly QE VAT (Quality Engineering Virtual Architect Team) meetings – teams show what they are working on, and everyone gets to weigh in on the impact of new features.

What programming languages do you use? Do you ever write Apex/Visualforce?

I use Java. I haven’t yet written any Apex/Visualforce, but I want to build an app on the Salesforce1 Platform to keep track of the Bay Area Girl Geek Dinner members, with their skills and LinkedIn URLs, so we have a centralized database of talented female engineers.

You organize the Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners. Tell me about that.

Angie Chang started Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners in 2008. I joined her in 2011. I wanted it to be the one stop for anyone who is feeling like a minority and wants to find a community, so that fewer people drop out of the technology community.  Together we grew it from one dinner every few months to now two or three dinners per month.

We see these dinners as a means for women in technology to network, gain inspiration, and also be a means for companies to increase the women in their workforce. In fact, many people have said to me: “I got a job based on someone I met at a Girl Geek Dinner. Thank you!” That always felt great to hear, and then it happened to me! Salesforce Engineering reached out to me because of someone I had met at a dinner, and I immediately said “Yes” to the interview.

Each dinner is hosted by a local company, and includes networking time as well as presentations from their engineers. We have recently hosted dinners at Microsoft and Apigee, and salesforce.com is hosting a dinner on May 14th. Registration for the salesforce.com dinner is already closed, but the Bay Area Girl Geek Dinner calendar is full dinners planned through March 2015, so sign up for the mailing list to hear about the upcoming events!

Are Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners women-only?

No, these are not meant to be women-only events. Men are welcome to register for the lottery, and men have spoken at Girl Geek Dinners. The purpose is to create a space for women to make themselves more visible as role models. Women are doing great things, and this is a way to find out about what they are doing. For some speakers, this is their first public speaking experience – it’s a great crowd for first-timers!

It’s a chain effect, and it involves both men and women. We need to solve the pipeline problem. We need more women as managers, executives, and on boards, but women are dropping out. If we provide a community like this, it will change. Also, companies need to hire more women. We’re providing a safe environment for companies to do that.

What is it like being a woman in this field?

In India, parents want their children (both men and women), to have good careers. As a student, no one stopped me from studying engineering. No one actively tells us that it is not a women’s job, but women are still the minority. It’s definitely hard at times being the minority, but I choose to be gender blind so I can work hard at getting things done without focusing on the negatives.

I’ve met many Salesforce Admins who are interested in learning to code. What is your advice to them?

HTML and CSS are the best to start with because you can try something and immediately see what you are doing. Then, transition to Javascript. Find a project to work on, and work towards it, so you have an end goal to keep you motivated.

Programming is like a musical instrument. Once you can play one, you know how to think in a certain way, so then it takes less effort to switch to a new instrument/language.

Author’s Note

Want to help Sukrutha build a Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners app on the Salesforce1 Platform? Contact her directly at sraman@salesforce.com.

Looking for me on Twitter? I’m @rockchick322004, and I tweet about the Salesforce1 Platform and Women in Tech.

Published
May 9, 2014
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Women in Tech: The Geek Behind the Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners