Yoga instructor. Travel enthusiast. Photographer. Teacher. Classical dancer. Blogger. Philosophy student. These are some of the titles that Archana Sundareshan goes by, along with being an Advanced Co-Engineering Program Manager in Intel’s Client Computing Group. She leads a team building state-of-the-art systems with major original equipment manufacturer partners, going up against the toughest competition in the field. She has also travelled to 26 countries, taught young rural girls via the Team Everest NGO, and most recently, became a finalist at the Mrs. India beauty pageant.
Having been a part of the organization for more than seven years, Archana has made her mark as a technologist and as one of the most dynamic personalities around. We recently caught up with her to discuss her incredible career journey and exciting life.
To start with, tell us a bit about yourself.
So, I was born and brought up in Bangalore and I graduated in Information Science and Engineering from Bangalore University back in 2000. I am a Tamilian, married to a Punjabi, yes, the typical two states story. We’re blessed with a 15-year-old daughter and a little golden retriever puppy who is five months old. That’s us, a family of four!
What made you choose engineering as your vocation?
My father used to be extremely worried when I was away from home and he could not get in touch with me. So, every time I was outside, I used to be on the lookout for telephone booths to call my father and reassure him that I was okay. On one such trip to the Western Ghats in India, when I was talking to my dad from a telephone booth, I gazed out and was awestruck by the beautiful landscape. I just wanted to stay there for longer. That was the trigger for me. I wanted to invent something that would keep me in touch with my father while I travelled far and wide, without any limits! That’s when I took an oath to become an engineer and bring this blue planet closer with the power of communication and technology.
How did you begin your journey at Intel?
I was working as a senior manager in a leading communications organization before I joined Intel. I thought I would retire there. Well, it seems the universe had other plans. That company shut down operations and I was handed my severance package. Everything that I had built over 14 years came crashing down. I was emotionally drained and afraid that I wouldn’t be able to reignite that passion at my next job. So, when I interviewed with Intel, I specifically requested for the role of an individual contributor as opposed to a senior managerial position. I wanted to hit reset, go back to the basics, and just work as an engineer. And Intel welcomed me with open arms. I fell in love with technology once again, and the pain of losing everything healed!
What excites you about being a technologist at Intel?
Being at Intel, I can proudly say that I am touching lives and making a difference, especially with the digital transformation during the pandemic. With our lives going online, from education to shopping to relationships, the scale of impact we had on people’s lives is tremendous. As part of the Advanced Co-Engineering team, I am using my skills and efforts into achieving one goal—to obliterate time and space. I want to work towards making the world a smaller place so that you can experience everything regardless of your location, without limits or boundaries. That is what drives me, excites me about doing what I do and being who I am.
You happen to be so many things! How do you find time for all of it? How has Intel supported you?
I will quote my manager on this: “We always find time for things we are passionate about, because if you’re doing what you love, then you’re actually recharging yourself.”
The trick is to find out what you’re passionate about. When you’re clear about what you want out of life, everything you do pushes you towards the end goal. For me, Intel has played a huge part in it. My managers, colleagues, and even the leaders support me in all my ventures—be it my yoga certification, my travel blog, or the recent Mrs. India pageant. In fact, I have been encouraged to incorporate my travel experience and storytelling to change the way we do presentations and meetings. That goes to show how inclusive Intel is, even about my passions and hobbies. Eventually, you are who you are, and that will impact your work in a very progressive and constructive manner. Now, this is a celebration of diversity—the diversity of thought, the diversity of ideas!
On that note, can you elaborate a bit on the diversity and inclusion initiatives at Intel?
I’m going to respond to that question with a statement: Intel has changed the dynamics of my kitchen. Hold on, let me explain! The diversity and inclusion initiatives altered the way I looked at life, from a conservative patriarchal setting to an inclusive modern one. Intel empowered me to have an open conversation with my family about the dynamics of the house. That helped us share the workload better and more efficiently. Now, there is nothing called a woman’s job in my house. This improved the quality of my life by leaps and bounds. So, that’s how Intel changed the dynamics of my kitchen! If it can change my life, I want to take this forward and help transform the lives of other women in the organization—to prioritize their careers and their passions and become equal decision makers in the society.
Can you summarize the Intel experience and the role it played in your life?
There is an ideology that I strongly believe in called game theory. It is a concept of playing the game of chess, for example, always keeping the end goal in mind. Be it my career or my passion, I want to have an end goal in mind, and every step I take should lead me towards that. With Intel, the game theory came together beautifully for me. The opportunities and encouragement I received at Intel was remarkable. The organization supported me in becoming a better person, a multi-talented individual. Prior to Intel, my life only revolved around my career and family. All the ventures and activities that I’m a part of now, everything you see in my portfolio, happened after I joined Intel. That itself speaks volumes about the extent to which Intel supported me and the causes I live for.
The Japanese philosophy of Ikigai truly sums up my journey: At Intel, I have my reason for being. I have a career I love and the freedom to pursue my passions equally. Now, isn’t that what we are all looking for?
Want to pursue your passion and make the most of the diversity initiatives at Intel? Click here to learn more.