Spotlight on Aryaka Women – Anu Chettur
March 8th is International Women’s day. As we celebrate the women in our lives, I am taking the opportunity to profile a few women of Aryaka over the course of this month and capture their life journeys, career evolution and learnings in the hopes that it would inspire other men and women the world over. This series of blogs will cover a few of the Aryaka women across different disciplines.
The first in this candid series profiles Anu Chettur, one of our talented women in tech, heading systems integration at Aryaka.
[Shashi Kiran] Anu, where did you grow up and what kind of a student were you?
[Anu Chettur] I grew up in India in a city called Cochin (Kochi) – I lived there from when I was 8 years old till 21 when I graduated Engineering college. I was an average student during the early years and got my act together during high school. I realized I am a very goal-oriented person. Wanting to finish at the top was a good and manageable goal.
[SK] Engineer by choice or chance?
[AC] Tricky question (!). I think I had a very limited exposure to what else I could be. My parents supported my desire to learn music and dance. But I never considered these to be what I would do growing up. Having gone to the school I did, and being told I could be an engineer or a doctor or an IAS personnel, these were the dreams and goals to aspire to. In the end I do not think I chose wrong.
[SK] India to United States. How did that happen?
[AC] I met the man who would be my husband ?. He asked me if I would move to California to be with him and I said Yes. The rest is history.
[SK] How did you join Aryaka? What has kept the passion alive all these years?
[AC] I met our co-founder and CTO, Ashwath through my husband’s mom. Aryaka was just founded and I interviewed there in 2009. At the time I had no domain knowledge and so I asked to intern with the engineering department. They welcomed me and gave me projects at a steady pace. I loved learning and dived right in.
As green as I was, the team really helped me get a good footing. I remember building my first test bed, installing Jira and deploying our first customer. It has been such a thrill being a part of all these major milestones. While they were undoubtedly my personal firsts, they were also firsts for Aryaka. A lot of what I do even today consists of firsts. This is what has kept my passion alive and I grew with the company. I hope Aryaka continues to give me more firsts as we keep growing.
[SK] What’s a day in the life of Anu?
[AC] My weekdays are a series of scheduled activities. My day starts at 6 with my kids. I have three and half year ol son and a nine onth old daughter. My husband and I coordinate to get us out the door by 8:30. I drop off the kids at school/daycare and am at work by 9:30.
Each day at work is a little different. In addition to my own tasks for the day, I coordinate with the rest of my team here in San Mateo and the engineering teams to get things moving to meet our executive goals. I head out of the office by 4:30 and pick up the kids and get home by 6.
Both the kids are usually done for the day by 8 PM and by 8:30, I resume work. I have some of my team in India and I coordinate with the NOS team who also work out of India. By 11:30 most meetings and other work-related activities are done and I wind down the house by, feed the baby and get to bed by midnight. This is an ideal day of course.
There are many days when little things throw this routine for a toss but usually we are able to stick to this schedule. Weekends are a bit relaxed nowadays and I don’t work as much anymore. As the kids grow, I expect this description of my days will change.
[SK] You had a second child recently. What’s the recipe for balancing work, motherhood and family?
[AC] In some ways, it is a common-sense recipe, but it has helped me manage the work-life balance and be productive.
I set expectations very clearly with everyone involved – the team and the family – this way no one is taken aback or surprised in a wrong way.
I plan ahead and try to schedule for the week in advance. I block off hours of the day I cannot work on my calendar and people. Barring any extenuating circumstances, those hours are reserved for the family and people respect that.
It also helps that my manager Vikas and my husband Arvind are very understanding about the needs at work and home. They act as a support system and this helps a lot.
[SK] What’s your advice to other women wanting to get into tech?
[AC] “Tech” is a broad term. My little cousins and juniors who are told they need to consider “Engineering” don’t really understand what that means. They just think it means writing code, which is all they know when they finish 12th grade. I educate them that there is a lot more to technology than coding and there is a diversity of roles.
For women considering the tech industry, they need to explore their interest and align themselves to the various roles. One doesn’t need to be an engineer to be in tech. So being aware of one’s strength and matching it to the possibilities is great way to start. I encourage them and say these roles are a lot of fun with exciting possibilities to look forward to
[SK] So what does a busy mom, tech professional and a women who goes after firsts do to relax?
[AC] LOL. Relaxing has been a little difficult with 2 little kids. At the end of a busy week these days I just crash on the couch and watch something on Netflix. Someday, when I’m not as fried, I think I will go back to reading regularly. I loved winding down with a good book. It has been a while though.