Like many women, Sarika Shrotriya got her first taste of a career conundrum after she became a mother. In 2005, when she was pregnant with her daughter, she settled in Thane, near Mumbai, working as a production engineer for a manufacturing company. As much as she enjoyed her work, it was often stressful, even more so as she grappled with the choice between fast-tracking her career and being there for her daughter. “Commuting in Mumbai is not easy. It would take me about an hour and a half to reach the office, and I was spending most of my waking hours at work,” she says. As she weighed the trade-offs, she realised that she’d have to either quit or move to a slightly less demanding industry if she wanted to keep working.
That meant leaving behind close to five years of experience in the manufacturing field. A graduate in instrumentation engineering from Cummins College of Engineering, Sarika worked as a lecturer for about two years before joining a manufacturing company in Nashik and moved to Mumbai in 2003 where she worked for another two years.
She quit her job just before the birth of her daughter in 2006, and decided to join the booming software industry. She took up a course in software testing.
But finding a job was not easy. “Most of the opportunities were for either experienced techies, or freshers. I was neither,” she says. Her family encouraged her to keep going. “My father reminded me that until I try something new, I’ll never know what I can accomplish,” she says. As Sarika focused on her course, her parents often took care of her baby. To avoid commuting woes, she moved to Pune with her family, where both she and her husband started new jobs. She landed a job at SAS India‘s R&D centre in June 2007. “There was so much to learn. It took me some time to get accustomed to the analytics domain, new technologies and applications, but I gave it my all, and kept learning,” she says. With her family’s support, she was also able to spend quality time with her daughter.
Today, she’s a senior software specialist in the visual forecasting product testing team. She’s also constantly working on her soft skills, and won a nine-month-long leadership programme last year.
Since the pandemic, Sarika has been spending a lot more time at home with her daughter, now fifteen. “But now, everyone’s busy in front of the screen all day,” she laughs. “But I’m glad I could give her my time when she needed it the most.”