Women in STEM: An Interview with Santhi Karthikeyan
Women in STEM is a series of interviews portraying the diversity of women at Alithya who have pursued careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
We recently chatted with Santhi Karthikeyan, Team Lead (Engineering), to discuss her path to Alithya, her day-to-day experiences, and to seek her advice for women considering a similar road.
How did you first become interested in STEM?
Math and physics were always my favorite subjects at school, and when the time came to select a career path, I didn’t hesitate to follow them into
Can you share your professional journey with us?
I initially acquired a bachelor's degree in electronics engineering, and then pursued a master’s in electrical engineering, with a specialization in power electronics. After those successes, I had an opportunity to pursue my PhD at the same university.
Until that point, I was more into academic research, but I took the risk and switched from research to industry. I really started my career from scratch, and now here I am at Alithya.
Do you think it's important to attract more students into STEM, particularly women?
Absolutely. Every complex decision made draws upon some aspect of STEM to understand its implications. To compete in a global economy, STEM education and careers must be a national priority.
STEM education is breaking down traditional roles to help bridge the ethnic and gender gaps historically seen in the math and science fields, and initiatives have been implemented to increase the roles of women and minorities in all STEM-related fields. I've seen a big push to involve more girls at a younger age, and I think it's important to help them discover and understand that this really is something that can help their lives, and that they can really have fun doing.
How do you manage self-doubt?
I call a colleague! Letting your self-doubt out and saying things out loud can often help you to hear how exaggerated those thoughts really are. Talking about those doubts with someone who is supportive can provide you with a completely different perspective.
If you’re a perfectionist, like me, starting a new technical project can be daunting. You may feel like you need to acquire a deep level of expertise before even getting started. However, creating something that works, no matter how small, can give you a major confidence boost that might motivate you to keep going!
What advice would you give to other women leaders about managing a team?
Communication is essential and can sometimes be difficult. I love to both manage a team and immerse myself in the day-to-day stuff as well. Most of the time, that helps with the process of finding simple solutions to complex problems. Flexibility is also a vital component within teams, and it’s important to keep that in mind in order to improve everyone’s quality of life at work.
What advice would you give women who want to pursue a tech career at Alithya?
Go for it, and don’t let self-doubt get in the way. Alithya offers great opportunities for being creative and developing yourself. I can’t stress enough how happy I am about my career decision. I have found my job to be very satisfying in all of the positions I have held, and I really enjoy working with inspiring colleagues on a daily basis.
I highly recommend coming to work at Alithya. The company offers a wide range of development opportunities, and the work can be very fulfilling.
What inspirational advice would you give to young girls interested in a career in STEM?
Don't be discouraged by other people's words. There will always be someone who will tell you that you can’t do it, or that it is not a space for you. I suggest that you find a good reason for why you want to be in STEM, and then don’t let go of that reason until you are surrounded by supportive people.
This is your opportunity to thank a female leader at Alithya who has inspired you…
When I think of inspiring women at Alithya who are making a difference with their leadership, Dipti Kashyap comes to mind. Working alongside Dipti has provided me with the opportunity to learn, to conduct research, to act on ideas, and to create value for Alithya.
This is the fourth installment of a series where we sit down with Alithya coworkers to discuss some of the challenges, experiences, and advice for young women who are interested in entering STEM. To read more, please click to read Heather’s and Dipti’s interviews.