Influential She in Leadership : In Conversation with Manisha Deshpande

For the fourth time, GS Lab got recognized in the top 100 companies to work for women by Avtar

On this occasion, we interviewed Manisha Deshpande, an inspirational leader from GS Lab, about her journey, balancing demanding work and passions, and her views on women in technology, diversity, and growth. Here are the excerpts from the interview.

 1. What was a pivotal breakthrough point in your career that enabled you to succeed?

I have had a couple of breakthrough points in my career that I would like to mention.
In my second year of post-graduation, I got the Lila Poonawalla Scholarship. I could participate in grooming training as a part of the program. These interventions could not have come at a better time. As I entered the corporate world, I was ready!

The second breakthrough was the leadership sessions (LEAP) organized by GS Lab, which taught me how to lead and empower myself personally and professionally! Rest came in by itself. I learned many things during this program that significantly impacted me and my actions after that.

2. How do you balance your personal and professional life while leading a critical business unit?

I often get this question from friends and colleagues. Yes, balancing multiple responsibilities and passions is the key. I would share six tips that I practice.

1. The first mantra is “Discipline, discipline, and discipline!” Having a defense family background, I guess I got in-built but would credit myself to sustain it. I am very particular about how and where I spend my time.

2. Take a holistic view of health, family, hobby, and career. All aspects are important and need attention. One needs to discover/be aware of what recharges an individual to keep going.

3. Prioritize. There is always so much to do.

4. Plan for phases and stages in life, wherever you can.

5. Be aware of your potential and weak areas

6. Build a robust support system around, but choose wisely who you would want to have in that system

3. In your opinion, how a diverse leadership team benefits the organization as a whole?

At work and otherwise, we need to identify the problems early, find possible solutions, pick the best one in the given context and then solve the problems. If we have a diverse group working together, each aspect of this process is enhanced. There are different perspectives and unique solutions. You would see this phenomenon as a common theme across high-performing teams.

4. How can we get more women in technology?

There are different stages in one’s career. They all need to be catered to with equal importance to ensure more women enter the technology space and stay there. With the burnout and, at times, lack of growth opportunities, I see a lot of them leave the space. This also needs equal attention.
Apart from diversity hiring, gender-inclusive policies for all I feel below are some other crucial points:

a) Prepare them before they enter the corporate world.

b) Empower them to deal with personal and professional changes/challenges.

c) Make it easier for them to take a break and even easier to come back and align.

d) Mentor them for taking up different roles and responsibilities at later stages.

e) Mentor all genders to handle situations and inspire inclusivity.

I would also like to say get your next generations aware about these aspects right from an early age so that the inclusivity continues in the long run by complimenting each other.

5. Message for future women tech leaders?

I don’t want to give any message on technology. Women are already taking it up and are there.
I would suggest not to make things harder for yourself by trying to balance too many things around. Let go of a few things. And that’s what I feel is crucial in ‘simplifying’ work-life leading to a satisfying journey.

Keep learning, find opportunities in challenges, and face changes with an open mindset.

6. How can organizations improve on gender diversity, especially at the top?

a) Get more women in Tech and build a strong network.

b) Create an environment that empowers them not to hold back, let go of any inhibitions and take risks.

c) Provide training, provide varied paths to reach at the top (no one size fits all), assess on merit.

d) Have champions identified in the company supporting such a thought process.

Do you want to become a champion? Let’s talk!


Manisha Deshpande | Associate Director -Engineering

Manisha Deshpande serves as Associate Director of Engineering – Cloud Applications and Infrastructure for GS Lab. Manisha holds Masters in Computer Science from Pune University. She brings in extensive experience of more than two decades in product development across multiple domains. Currently, she leads a practice with diverse techonology teams spanning across various engineering functions.