[Women in Tech] It’s not about how far you fall, it’s how high you bounce, says LocoNav’s Anjali Joshi

As a board member of fleet technology startup LocoNav, Anjali Joshi is focused on enabling the company to further its vision of democratizing fleet technology in emerging and high-growth markets.

Anjali has held leadership positions at several leading companies around the world, including AT&T Bell Labs and Covad Communications. She is known for bringing exceptional digital products to market and served as Vice President of Product Management at Google, managing Google’s Fiber to Communities effort, which brought ultra-high-speed access to people across United States.

“I now sit on the board of several technology companies and in advisory roles with many startups. In 2010, I was selected as one of the top 50 alumni of IIT Kanpur over the past 50 years. In 2017, I received the Distinguished Alumni Award”, explains Anjali, during a conversation with His history.

Why choose LocoNav?

Anjali says she has been driven by challenges throughout her professional career.

“When I heard about LocoNav, I was intrigued by the company’s vision to democratize access to fleet technology. They leverage the power of technology to create progressive and positive impact on the lives and livelihoods of everyone in the fleet management industry. It’s exciting to be a part of their journey and unlocking opportunity and technology-driven efficiency for over 250 million commercial vehicle owners and drivers in emerging markets,” she said.

She adds that her first conversation with Vidit Jain and Shridhar Gupta, the founders of LocoNav, focused on best practices for startups as they aggressively scale the business in emerging and high-growth markets.

“I hope to share my experience in building product platforms at scale to enable them to become a global market leader. I also plan to bring my experience working in emerging and developed markets to guide the company’s acquisition and expansion strategy as it establishes a presence in key geographies,” says Anjali.

She says the global fleet economy is a trillion dollar industry worldwide with a huge opportunity to leverage technology to gain efficiency. Over the past decade, several technology companies have sprung up in developed markets to meet the needs of drivers and fleet owners. However, these services are not readily available in emerging markets.

The industry is fragmented and not using modern technology in emerging markets like India and many parts of Africa, Latin America and even Southeast Asia and Australia.

Early love for science

Anjali’s love for science and engineering started at an early age. She was the second child of a middle-class Indian family; her father was an engineer at ONGC and her mother was a college graduate and homemaker.

“As in most families of this generation, education was considered very important in my family. However, unlike many other parents of that time, mine did not distinguish between boys and girls and ensured that my brother and I both received the best education and the best opportunities,” recalls Anjali .

This encouraged her to study science and math and like her brother, she passed the JEE exam and went to do her BTech at IIT Kanpur.

“I graduated with a degree in electrical engineering in 1981, then moved to the United States to complete my master’s degree in computer engineering at the State University of New York at Buffalo. After working in the semiconductor industry for a few years, I completed another master’s degree in engineering management at Stanford University in California,” she says.

Time in IIT Kanpur

Anjali calls IIT Kanpur a remarkable institute, saying that it was established in collaboration with the best technical universities in the United States and followed different teaching and grading practices from other Indian colleges .

“The teachers there were enthusiastic, passionate and inspired teachers. They held us to very high standards and taught us to think from first principles. My classmates were equally outstanding – smart, creative and fun. They came from a variety of backgrounds and had a lot of interests outside of the classroom,” she says.

She was part of the Television Center where they created programs for the campus population, participated in several drama productions, played badminton, and was part of film and music clubs.

“The most important lessons I learned in college were to stay curious, keep learning, and be open to new challenges. Over the past 50 years, technology has evolved at an incredible rate and when I graduated, I could not even have imagined the work I do today. This ability to learn new skills and technologies has been essential in my career as I have crossed many technical fields ranging from semiconductors to consumer Internet services and functional areas ranging from engineering to product and business.

The beginnings of the Internet

After graduating in 1989 from the State University of New York at Buffalo, Anjali joined AT&T Bell Laboratories and spent several years working in voice and high-speed data communications.

“It was the early days of the Internet and the World Wide Web as we know it today was very nascent. My early experiences in this field provided me with the technological foundation which proved to be very useful for me throughout my career,” she says.

In 1998, Anjali joined Covad Communications, a company that provided high-speed Internet access to individuals and businesses, and became executive vice president of engineering.

“In this role, I helped the company grow from a startup to a public company. Subsequently, I joined Google in 2006, where I spent more than a decade leading teams focused software, network and IT infrastructure, Maps, Search and many other core products One of my most exciting roles at Google was being able to develop products for the next billion users and drive strategic investments in companies in India,” says Anjali.

From individual contributor to leader

Navigating the different stages of her career – from an individual contributor to an executive – taught Anjali something new and helped her take advantage of the next opportunity.

“The first five years of a person’s working life should be about experimenting, learning and doing. The early years of your career should be spent understanding what interests you and how you like to work. It is good at this stage to change jobs and try different fields and roles.

“When I started my journey, I was an individual contributor as a chip designer, but I soon realized that while I loved engineering, I didn’t like working alone and I liked making part of a team. I also learned that I love working on large-scale projects and innovative technologies that impact people’s lives,” she says.

Anjali advises that when transitioning between roles, one should keep in mind one’s own goals as well as the goals of the organization. The organization should benefit from your skills and knowledge, and you should have the opportunity to grow.

“If you take on a role that you’re very good at, you won’t be challenged; if you’re taking on something completely new, you won’t be productive and valuable to the organization in the short term,” she says.

At Google, Anjali held a variety of roles over a span of more than 12 years, starting with infrastructure, moving to maps, and then to search.

“Each role was very different from the previous one and in each one I was able to deepen my learning while achieving important goals,” she says.

Advice to leaders

Different leaders have different leadership styles. However, at the heart of effective leadership are a few principles. The first is competence.

“I once attended a lecture by Dr. Christine Darden, one of the female NASA mathematicians portrayed in the film. hidden numbers. She was asked what it was like to be a black woman in engineering at that time. She answered in a neutral tone: “You have to do your job and do it well. This will always be true; to be a leader in any field, you must first be good at what you do”.

Second, don’t just be a sideline manager; be part of the ups and downs of your team’s journey, take ownership and be responsible.

“It’s important that your team feels truly supported so that when times get tough, they have the courage to carry on and overcome challenges. These lines from Theodore Roosevelt’s speech have always resonated with me: ‘This is not not the critic who counts, not the man who shows how the strongman stumbles. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena”.

Third, it is important to have patience, to remain optimistic and to be resilient. Achieving ambitious goals takes time and the journey is never easy.

“You will invariably fall at one time or another. Failure is part of the process and provides great learning lessons. Dwelling on the details of what went wrong isn’t productive, but learning from your mistakes is very important. The focus should be on fast recovery and progression – it’s not about how far you fall, but how high you bounce. Also, cultivating the habit of listening goes a long way – not only for your team to feel heard, but also because the more informed you are, the better able you are to make good decisions,” says Anjali.

Women in STEM

On Women in STEM, Anjali adds that India produces the highest number of female STEM graduates, but only around 14% of STEM jobs are held by Indian women.

In addition to a lack of support from families to pursue an education or pursue a career, there is also the widespread belief, often by women themselves, that they are not qualified in STEM subjects. . The lack of female representation in STEM, whether educators or professionals, is another disincentive.

“My advice is to be bold in pursuing opportunities in science and technology. Although STEM is a difficult field, it is both interesting and impactful. Don’t wait on the sidelines; be confident in your abilities and find the perfect STEM program based on your interests.

“STEM education can help build an advanced society, a society that helps students become innovators by enhancing their critical thinking, helping them develop problem-solving, creative and collaborative skills,” says Anjali.

Edited by Teja Lele Desai

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