March is Women’s History Month, a time to celebrate women’s contributions and achievements in different fields and spheres of life.
Ad tech is still a mostly male industry, but there are more conversations than ever around critical issues to the empowerment of women at work, including opening doors and access for women early in their careers so they can progress to C-suite; supporting women to choose and stay with STEM careers; and helping women achieve a work-life balance.
This month at Cadent, we’re profiling women who are leaders in their departments, asking about their career journeys, approaches to growth and mentorship, and their philosophies on leading others.
Deepti Goyal has more than 15 years of experience in quality assurance and business analysis of client-server and web-based applications, with strong domain knowledge of media and advertising.
Throughout her varied career, Deepti credits her ability to adapt with curiosity and a willingness to ask questions: “Keep an open mind and be ready to learn, and when you don’t understand something, keep asking questions,” she says, adding, “Then anything is possible.”
Read a Q&A with Deepti below.
The following conversation has been lightly edited and condensed.
Did you always have a clear vision for your career?
I had a vision but the path to achieving my goal was not straightforward. I originally studied to become a pharmacist and decided to get an MBA in Marketing. My professional life began when I handled product management at a pharmaceutical company. I then made the leap into Quality Assurance and worked in multiple domains like mortgage, finance and access control that involved hardcore electrical engineering. Whatever field I was working in, my personality and way of dealing with people remained constant. I was always willing to discover something new and I was eager to ask questions. I focused on doing the best quality work possible, wherever I was.
After moving to the U.S., I had a break for a few years as I didn’t have a work permit. I essentially started from scratch in the software world. During this break, I put in a lot of time volunteering at libraries, a hospice, and at my kids’ schools. All those experiences, even cold calling, helped me so much in understanding American culture. Those experiences taught me not to underestimate what you can learn from any professional experience, however brief they might be.
Whatever field I was working in, my personality and way of dealing with people remained constant. I was always willing to discover something new and I was eager to ask questions.”
Can you describe your average workday?
As part of quality engineering, we’re not merely simulating users and testing software manually. Our jobs require scripting, data verification and real engineering, and we have a lot of cool tools at our disposal. On a day-to-day basis, we serve all the teams, products, and applications at Cadent, whether it’s Cable, Broadcast, Media Hub, Data Engineering, or Business Intelligence. Any software that goes out to clients has to go through rigorous quality assurance.
We’re always working to improve our processes and technology, and we have daily meetings to discuss our progress and strategy.
How do you motivate your team?
When I started at Cadent, I was a one-person quality-assurance department, and I’ve since built a 13-person on-site team that has among the best retention rates in the company. I’m really proud of that, and one thing that has been key is that I still consider myself a team member, not just a leader.
I believe in trust-based leadership. I put a lot of faith in my team members and their work, and I consider their successes as mine and vice-versa. I present them with as many possibilities to grow as I can and let them know the sky’s the limit. They realize if I ask them to do something, there’s a good reason. I listen to them and learn their strengths and weaknesses, and that way I can place them in roles where they can be successful. That said, if there are problems, we identify them together and work on a plan to improve.
Basically, I treat them the way I want to be treated. You can call it trust-based leadership, but it’s pretty much just being human.
Women are still greatly underrepresented in the STEM fields. Has being a woman engineer posed particular challenges?
In many of my professional roles, I have been the first woman to hold that post, so when I got to Cadent and discovered that I was surrounded by men, that was OK. I was used to it. The men I partnered with were a little anxious; they wondered how to behave around me or whether they would have to change their manner of speaking.
I considered my unofficial first assignment being to build friendly relationships with them and prove to them that I was capable. It worked out fine because we have the best, brightest, and most supportive people here at Cadent. My managers put their faith in me, taught me about the domain, and gave me flexibility and independence.
Don’t forget that aside from being a woman, I was also the first Quality Assurance person, so there were challenges in that as well. I had to do a lot of explaining about what QA means, why it’s needed, and how it can be implemented effectively.
I realize challenges of all sorts will always come my way, but I don’t let them slow me down.
Basically, I treat [my team] the way I want to be treated. You can call it trust-based leadership, but it’s pretty much just being human.“
As you built your department, what was your approach to convincing stakeholders that QA is important?
Talking doesn’t help much, right? I might preach to everyone “This is important,” but if they don’t believe it, they won’t believe it. Wherever I go, I always focus on explaining the process and value of QA to them. Your work eventually proves itself. I showed them the disadvantages or the cons of why the process being followed at that time needed improvement, and I pointed out the shortcomings. I demonstrated how solving issues a certain way is more efficient and productive than what had been done for years. There are many benefits to QA – it improves the quality of the product, increases clients’ confidence and the company’s goodwill, and it helps the team detect issues earlier on, which costs less than fixing them later.
Eventually, when people realize that you are honest and you have a shared goal in mind, they understand. It takes time. All along, I had support from my manager. He put so much trust and faith in me. He believed in my vision and gave me that flexibility and independence to execute it the way I wanted to.