We’re highlighting the wonderful contributions of recent award winners recognized by the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). In this series, these women share how Intel supports their careers, offering them flexibility alongside opportunities to create amazing tech.
Nikita Tiwari, a lead platform application engineer with Intel’s Platform Management and Customer Engineering (PMCE), in the Internet of Things Group (IOTG), was recently awarded the Distinguished New Engineer and Patent Recognition Awards by the SWE. These awards recognize women engineers who have demonstrated outstanding performance and leadership in engineering within the first ten years of their careers and individuals who have obtained a patent within the last three years.
Read about Nikita’s career journey at Intel and her advice for women looking to grow exceptional careers in technology.
Q. Tell us a little bit about what you do and what a typical day looks like?
I am constantly interacting with customers as we deliver to them—I serve as the face of Intel to our external automotive customers. It’s a really challenging but exciting situation to be in because you don’t know what to expect next. My day typically starts with looking at debug issues filed by the customer and making sure they are properly triaged and handed to the respective domain experts. Also, since my domain expertise is in camera, I look at the technical debug for those and work on fixing them.
Q. Tell us about your recent patent and the impact your patent may have.
This invention (US patent 10,540,545) is an AI-based technology that classifies the age of individuals in a surveillance camera without relying on a direct frontal view of the person’s face. This poses a wide range of critical safety applications for an unattended minor in a dangerous scenario.
A funny but very humbling and rewarding experience for me was explaining to my parents what a patent is and its significance along with fielding their eagerness to learn all about it.
Q. Did you always know you wanted to work in technology? How did you decide to go into engineering?
My formal education is in electrical and computer engineering. I chose that because I was fascinated with computer architecture, microprocessor, microcontrollers, and how everything just fits on a small chip and functions on a piece of code.
Q. Many women in the tech industry feel that their gender has affected the way they are perceived or treated. Have you also felt this and how did you handle it?
There are so many unconscious biases, those outliers that negatively impact the ability to see a person for who they are, irrespective of gender. Sometimes if you are a young engineer managing with a huge project or a young manager with several senior employees as your direct reports, you have to try hard to be taken seriously irrespective of your merit. If you are the only woman in a room full of men, you need to speak up and interrupt to make your point heard.
The people that surround you make a lot of difference in such scenarios. A colleague stopping someone from speaking over you and asking them to let you finish, holding someone accountable for mansplaining, makes a huge impact. If we all watch out for each other like this, it won’t be a problem after all.
Q. What do you think is the best part of being a woman in the tech industry?
Women are naturally creative people; they are great at multi-tasking and can come up with innovative ways of seeing a problem. This distinguishes them from others and makes them a great asset to the tech industry.
Q. Do you notice a lack of women in technology? If so, why do you think that’s the case?
As hard as it is to believe, it’s true. This goes way back to the beginning when the foundation was built.
Women have a tendency to try to meet 100% of the qualifications needed to perform a job or else they won’t go for it—while men with even 50% of the qualifications would raise their hand to do that job. Trusting that you are good with 50% knowledge and will develop the rest on the job will help eliminate this.
Q. Many women in the tech industry consider themselves introverts. Are you an introvert and if so, what is the most difficult thing about being an introvert in the tech industry? How did you overcome it?
I am an extrovert but know many who are introverts or ambiverts. There is no good or bad thing about being an introvert or an extrovert, each is a personality type and you could excel either way. It is tough at times when you are naturally quiet or soft spoken. But knowing enough about your domain to be able to step up and voice your input is necessary.
Volunteering with groups within your organization or with external professional organization is a great way to develop those leadership and interpersonal skills in a safe space with constructive feedback.
Q. What advice would you give to a woman considering a career in the tech industry? What do you wish you had known?
The importance of networking and the power of mentoring!
Get a mentor and then become one for someone else. I would eventually have done what I am doing today, but decision-making and background research would have been way simpler if I’d had mentors from the beginning. And I can’t stress enough the importance of having a huge network…that’s how you learn and who you go to, that’s who you bounce off ideas with.
Also, join various professional organizations like the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). It builds leadership and helps you grow your interpersonal skills, which can take you a long way.
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