Enterprise Data Strategy Board "Women in Data" Series: Apurva Wadodkar at Autodesk

March 13, 2024

Video Transcript

Speaker: Apurva Wadodkar, Autodesk, Inc.

Can you talk about your career journey? What led you to enter a role in data?

Apurva Wadodkar: You know, what brought me in data, that was a complete fluke shot. But I'll tell you what kept me in data, is that it never gets boring. To me, when you're handling a domain's data, it speaks volumes. It's almost like a window into the soul of that department. And sometimes the things are apparent, you know, you find it just like that, and sometimes you have to wear a hat of a detective to find that needle in the haystack. But it's always exciting to find new things about the space. And I'll give you an example, amongst all the other domains I've worked with across years, supply chain was the most fun, right? I learned while I was doing their program, how inventory was a liability, right? So, too much of raw material on your site would mean that you have to build a bigger warehouse, right? That costs. And too little inventory would mean that now you're not able to deliver the products to your customer in time and that has its own problems. First of all you lose goodwill. And then, there are hard penalties for it. It was fascinating to see the dynamics in the space of how they juggle between too much and too little. You know, to keep the business going. Plus you have to understand that you get a free training from a practitioner of that space, and I entered a zero in supply chain and I came out a SME. And I couldn't have done that, had I not been in data. So that's what it does for you.

What’s been the most memorable moment in your career to date?

Apurva Wadodkar: Well, the most memorable moment in my career has to be my first job. And I tell you, there is no other feeling better than that. I'll tell you, I still remember very clearly. I was fresh out of my engineering final year, and I was not having too much expectations, because the market was down, and there was a time I thought I'll never get a job. It was not a good feeling. And I just wanna say to all the people who are now well established, help those people who are freshers get their first break. You can build somebody's life by doing so.

What advice do you have for young female data professionals striving for leadership positions in this field?

Apurva Wadodkar: Well, my advice for all the females in the data field is to never sell yourself short. Right? And I'll be honest, the rules for us females in the industry is slightly different from our male counterparts. And we often have to walk this very fine line between warmth and competence. Too much warmth means you're not competent enough, and too much competence means you're aggressive. Right? And I have struggled a lot with this throughout the years. And it's not fair, but that's the rule of the game. Right? And so I'll give you some quick tips on how you can learn to be, to walk that line. There are some great characters on the television that I like to study and then mimic. I'll give you two examples. One is Elizabeth McCord from Madam Secretary. You have to see. She is an amazing balance of warmth and competence. And then the second character I would I would suggest is Jessica Pearson from the Suits series. So check it out, take notes, and that's how a female leader should be.

What are some unique challenges women leaders face in this industry? What opportunities do you see for women to make an impact in data?

Apurva Wadodkar: Well, data is the new oil. And I want all you data practitioners to be proud of the work that you are doing. Especially because, hey, it's an AI age, but there is no AI without data. Us data people. And our data aids to the decision making process. The better the data, the more informed decisions are made. And guess what? Better the decision outcome is the best. And so take pride in the work we do. Now that said, this field is evolving so quickly. There are new technologies and market and new processes every other day. And so my advice to all of you is keep up with the reading, keep up with your knowledge on what's out there in the market. And that's how you are staying current and are helpful in positive outcomes.

How important do you think mentorship and support networks are for women pursuing leadership roles in data-related fields?

Apurva Wadodkar: I tell you, there is a special place for mentors in heaven. And personally, I'm whatever I am today because of all the mentorship I have received and support I have received from people who came before me. And I think it's all of our responsibility to pay it forward. Now, people who are seeking mentorship, To me, I have a lot of mentors. It's not just one and done. You have plenty of them. Think of it like every time you meet with a mentor and learn from them, and they share their perspective with you, it's like you're copying their superpower. And the more you do, the more super-powered you are, and the more you learn. So go seek mentorship, but at the same time, pay it forward. Give it to those who need the most.

Produced with Vocal Video