Qualcomm Global Scholars

Qualcomm’s Global Scholars Program awards scholarships to women studying STEM in universities in China and India, while also pairing the Scholars with mentors from Qualcomm for a six-month virtual mentorship focusing on enhancing the Scholars’ professional development skills. Rashmi Mohan was the first speaker in the Qualcomm Global Scholars webinar series. This webinar, about the “Journey Ahead,” focused on the transition from the university space to the workspace in tech.

Rashmi Mohan has held management and technical positions for the past 15 years in the tech sector in Bangalore, most recently as Senior Engineering Manager at Yahoo. Rashmi’s background is in front-end engineering, and she has a wide swath of experience leading engineers within Yahoo Labs. As a leader in the tech space, Rashmi has been a champion for other women in the field of technology. She has been highly involved with the Grace Hopper Conference in Bangalore for the past years as a mentor, speaker and program chair.

During her talk, Rashmi shared her experiences, not only as an engineer and technologist, but as a woman in the tech industry. After sharing her lessons learned with the Scholars, Rashmi opened up the webinar to Q&A. The questions from our Global Scholars in this first section of the Q&A focused on Rashmi’s advice for the Scholars while they are still in a university setting.

Q1: How can I use soft skills to further my career?

Rashmi Mohan: The umbrella of “soft skills” is pretty large. It involves networking, communication, interpersonal skills, etc. Honestly, it’s something that we all have to work on conscientiously and in a dedicated manner. Let me give you some examples of how each of these can help:

  • Networking: The idea here is simple. The more people you know, and the more people that know your work and ability, the better the chances are for you to hear of opportunities that will be a good fit for you. Take the time out to be involved in industry-wide initiatives. Keep in touch with old colleagues to hear what they are doing and keep them abreast of what you are up to (including opportunities that might be of interest to you). Reach out beyond your immediate business unit or group to understand what your company is trying to achieve and how you can be a part of it.
  • Communication: There is no doubt that a good and effective communicator has an immediate advantage over someone who is brilliant but cannot make their ideas understood by others. Thankfully, this is a learned skill as well. I’ll discuss the topic of communication more in depth in an upcoming question.
  • Interpersonal skills: “Do good. Do work. Do good work.” If you take on every task with genuine interest and develop a reputation of being someone who is easy to work with, inclusive and respectful of their peers, reliable and accountable for their tasks. Practice these interpersonal skills and opportunities will just flow your way. People don't always want the Einstein in the group. People want someone who can get the job done on time.

Q2: How can I improve my communications and presentation skills?

RM: There’s two parts to this question. And they are somewhat recursive: One, read more. Listen more (& attentively). Two, write more. Speak more.

In order to be a good communicator, you need to grab every opportunity that comes your way, to communicate. If you are looking for some examples, here are some ways to grow your communication skills:

  • Read technical papers to understand the format and presentation styles.
  • Find conferences where you can present a poster or paper. It’s okay if you don't get accepted the first few times. Keep trying. The more practice you get, the better you get at it.
  • Try to summarise your project work at different levels: a 200-word summary for a CEO, a 400-word description for the software architect of another team, a two-page detailed design document for a co-worker on your team. Have other people read and critique it. That’s how you learn. Make sure you offer to read and critique theirs to return the favour!
  • Write. Read. Cut. Re-read. Most emails are far more verbose than needed. Make sure you include all the necessary details, but no more.
  • There are a ton of books and courses on effective communication. You could start there. But there is no substitute for practice.

Q3: Should I choose to do a master's degree in my home country or abroad?

RM: There’s advantages to both, of course. In terms of a graduate degree in your home country, your familiarity with the teaching methods, the lower cost, and your ability to build on your pre-existing network of professors and industry contacts for internships will be advantageous.

On the other hand, going abroad opens you to new experience and always helps to widen your horizons. You will gain a more global perspective on learning and business. And, of course, the program may be a more renowned specialised program for your field. (I am guessing that is why you are considering it in the first place.)

But ultimately, the decision is very personal. What is a better program? Where would you like to settle down? How much money can you afford to spend? Choose based on what you get out of the time spent. If the access to knowledge is no greater abroad and you are studying internationally for the tag that it brings to your resume, you may want to think again.

Q4: How do you face a failure and prove to others that you are much more capable than this failure?

RM: Failure in a university setting, especially when it comes to grades, is a bit more stark. However, when you are in a work situation, it’s actually much easier. The one thing that you can do when you know you are headed towards failure is to move fast. If I am going to spend two years building something and realize it is of no use, then it is a loss. But if I build something in three months then realize it’s of no use, then I can dump it and move on. The cost associated with that failure is much less. So, if you are going to fail, I would say fail fast. For every failure that you can anticipate, spend your time wisely to come up with a solution to the problem. Prepare yourself and the people around you. So, for example: You are working on a project, and you know that it will lose its performance by X month and the beta tests are having poor results. Right then, you should clean up the problem. Go up to your management, highlight the problem you have uncovered and suggest the solution. Ask for a second chance, and you will be given it, because it really is your responsibility to find a solution. I think that’s what people look for in work situations: someone who is accountable and responsible, because being perfect at all times is unlikely, if not impossible.

Q5: If there was one thing you did differently, what would it be?

RM: That’s a great question. One of the things that I would do differently would be to definitely take more risks. Throughout my career, I have been a bit risk averse. When there was a choice, I would take the one that would not push me too far beyond what I thought I was capable of. I have now learned the confidence of successful failure. Remember that no decision is final. I know that I can always come back and revisit and relearn. That’s something I wish I had learned earlier. I feel that confidence now after X number of years in the industry, because I have made enough connections who trust my abilities. Early in your career, it’s important to try a lot of things. Have that curiosity to learn.


Are you interested to learn more about the Qualcomm Global Scholars program? This dynamic program invests in young women internationally, supporting their education through scholarships and mentorships with professionals at Qualcomm.

Qualcomm's Global Scholars Program awards scholarships to women studying STEM in universities in China and India, with a virtual mentorship component. Harsha Kulkarni shares with us her mentorship experience.

As it is rightly said “Secret for success in life is a person to be ready for an opportunity when it comes”, the WeTech Qualcomm Global Scholars Program was one such opportunity which opened new doors of knowledge to me. Being in second year of my Information Science under graduation course and receiving this award gave me a new dimension to look at how the world is changing and how women are an integral part of this changing world.    

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A career in STEM field has always been my aim and I am very proud to say I will be a woman, building my career in this field. The involvement and impact that women have on technical fields is tremendous for which the Grace Hopper Celebration India stands as a testimony. Meeting, listening, interacting with so many great women personalities was totally an incredible experience. Getting to know the recent advances in the technical fields added to my knowledge and resources. I want to use this opportunity to thank WeTech & IIE for sponsoring the scholarship to this wonderful event.        

The beginning of this wonderful journey was with an orientation session held at Kochi, India. The curiosity, excitement of meeting the other scholars was at its peak. The friendships that we all made on that first day grew over the six months and I can certainly guarantee that they will last forever.          

This mentorship was like a guiding star and my mentor helmed my way through. It helped me to decide what I wanted to be and where I would like to see myself over the years. Completing the activities like self-assessment lead to self discovery, paving a path to what I want to achieve and also discovering my weaknesses. The skills such as leadership, communication, networking acquired during this mentorship will certainly help me to transform into a professional. Through this mentorship I also got an insight into the fields I would like to pursue in the future. The experiences over the past year have helped me evolve personally and professionally. From recognizing my weaknesses to making new acquaintances, I have learnt a lot which has transformed me into an individual who wants to make an impact on this society.  

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The program culminated in August with an event at the Qualcomm office, Bengaluru. What started out as program eventually turned into a beautiful journey with loads of memories to cherish. Last but definitely not the least I would like to thank WeTech, Institute of International Education (IIE) and Qualcomm for providing this great opportunity and guiding the path to my goals.  Are you interested to learn more about the Qualcomm Global Scholars program? This dynamic program invests in young women internationally, supporting their education through scholarships and mentorships with professionals at Qualcomm.        


Are you interested to learn more about the Qualcomm Global Scholars program? This dynamic program invests in young women internationally, supporting their education through scholarships and mentorships with professionals at Qualcomm.

 


















































































































































































































































































































Qualcomm's Global Scholars Program awards scholarships to women studying STEM in universities in China and India, with a virtual mentorship component. Kavita  shares with us her mentorship experience.

Getting selected into the Qualcomm Global Scholars program is one of the best things that ever happened to me. I was literally on cloud nine when I was informed about my selection into the program. I was really excited about the whole program.

Global Scholar

Being a person who loves learning new things especially in electronics, this program was a real blessing for me. I was connected with a mentor was exactly from the same field I wish to pursue. I wanted to know more about the opportunities in the electronics domain and the various skills required for it. My mentor gave me a very good idea about the various opportunities available, working of the industry, the work atmospheres, the culture etc along with sound technical background information. I was also suggested a number of books and websites to look into to improve my understanding of various subjects. I can safely say that my technical knowledge has improved tremendously and I have also been able to form a clear cut idea on how to take my career forward.

On the professional front, I also developed a lot of skills which are required to survive in the industry. I built up my confidence, my interview skills and communication skills. I understood the importance of good planning. On a whole, I was able to redefine myself as a better individual. Over the past couple of months, I have developed a lot of confidence in my work and studies. I have begun to look at channels to direct my curiosity and knowledge. I have also been immensely inspired to share my knowledge and expertise in various subjects with others and help in their growth and overall development. I was very much overwhelmed and inspired by my co-scholars. We had the opportunity to meet, mingle and connect on various occasions. Their stories of success and sheer determination never cease me to amaze me. They have greatly enabled me to network more and expand my horizons. After all, sky is the limit!

Lastly, I had a great learning experience during the course of the program. It was extremely helpful in all perspectives. It made me ready to face the world, help me grow as an individual and inspired me to aspire for a great career.


Are you interested to learn more about the Qualcomm Global Scholars program? This dynamic program invests in young women internationally, supporting their education through scholarships and mentorships with professionals at Qualcomm.

                                                                                                                                                                           

The WeTech Qualcomm Global Scholars program recently kicked off its expansion to two new countries with in-person launch events for students and mentors in Taipei, Taiwan, and Seoul, South Korea. 29 female Scholars studying computer science or engineering at select universities across Taiwan and South Korea were selected for the program’s second year cohort. Each Scholar will receive financial assistance in the form of a scholarship and be connected with a skilled tech professional from Qualcomm, the program sponsor, to go through a six-month guided mentorship focused on enhancing professional development and leadership skills.  

event speaker   speaker

During the launch events in January, Scholars and mentors were able to meet for the first time before the start of their mentorships. Scholars in both locations participated in a full program orientation, toured Qualcomm’s offices and lab, and heard from female leaders at Qualcomm about their career journeys. Program participants also had the opportunity to meet and connect with Qualcomm and IIE leadership during the events including Erin Gavin, Director of Qualcomm’s Thinkabit Lab and WeTech Lead, Naoko Dunnigan, Director of Global Scholarship & Exchange Programs, Kelty Davis, WeTech Program Officer, and local Qualcomm Taiwan and Korea staff .  

student introductions dinner with participants

The launch event in Taipei also included an impressive media session where students were addressed by the head of Qualcomm’s local office, ST Liew, and professors from some of the target universities represented by the Scholars.  A networking reception was held at the Taipei office after the event.   In Seoul, Scholars and mentors were invited to take part in a post-event dinner where they could keep the conversations going and continue getting to know one another.   WeTech team looks forward to watching these fantastic Scholars and mentors over the next six months and following their progress!

group photo

Rashmi Mohan was the special speaker in a recent webinar for the Qualcomm Global Scholars program. A WeTech program, Qualcomm’s Global Scholars offers both scholarship awards and mentorships to women studying STEM at selected universities in China and India. As a prominent woman leader in the tech industry, Rashmi talked about the “Journey Ahead,” sharing her own experiences about transitioning from university into her career. For more about Rashmi’s bio, be sure to visit the blog featuring the first part of Rashmi’s Q&A. This second blog highlights Rashmi’s responses to Scholars’ questions about transitioning into the tech workplace. WeTech is grateful to both the Scholars and Rashmi for sharing their insights in this Q&A.

Q6: Is it difficult to have a career and a family at the same time?

RM: I am living proof of the fact that it is possible. Is it hard? Of course. Every choice we make comes with its share of hardships. But I would not let that deter you. Like I said in the session, our life is full of prioritisation exercises. At every given point of time, something will be more important than the other; focus on the priority. As an engineer, if my release is tomorrow and my daughter has a math exam, I would pick my project, as the math exam help can be rendered by another trusted adult (e.g., spouse, grandparent, teacher, neighbour, etc). Similarly, if I have a parent teacher meeting, and it clashes with my weekly status meeting with my boss, I would pick the PTM and ask for another meeting slot.

You have to build your support system if you want to be successful. And the only way to do that is to educate your friends and family about the kind of help you need, and the kind of help you can provide. This holds true for any part of the world. Don’t sweat the small stuff. If someone else can do the job as well as you, let them. I go by a simple principle: Always strive for all the parts of the family to be (more or less) happy and engaged with the choices you make. Keep revisiting the decisions you make every few years to see that the principle still holds true.

Q7: Did you meet any discrimination against women in your career and how did you overcome it?

RM: Early in my career, I did feel slighted. I was just out of college, and we were pushed into a project with just three of us, and I was the newest on the team. There was another woman on the team, and then there was me, and another guy. I was left out of tasks, and he seemed to be the self-appointed lead of the project. In the assignment, the tasks would be divided between the two of them. It was hard for me, because I hadn’t come from an environment like that. So I bided my time; I was upset at the beginning. But I realized that it was also that they had worked together on a few projects before. I wish I had had the ability to ask him why he was slighting me, but I did it another way at the time. I took on the projects that neither of them wanted. I did a reasonably good job; I spent time learning. I very quickly made inroads, and then people began to believe in my ability to learn and contribute. So, I don’t know if it was a gender-based discrimination, but certainly it was discrimination of some sort. Typically I find that, with those sorts of people, the best resolution is to prove yourself in your work. There’s an evaluation you have to make. One, can you have the discussion with this person in a calm manner? Two, is that person mature enough to handle the feedback that you’ll give them? If the answer to both is yes, then it’s probably worth it to have the conversation directly.

Q8: Would you share a time or situation where you felt stuck in what job you needed to take? How did you handle it and what helped you to make that decision?

RM: Right after I graduated college, the market was booming, and I was in California at the time. A lot of job opportunities came my way. The first one was a great job with a tremendous compensation. But it required 40% travel, and because I was already married at that time, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to leave my husband that much of the time. I have always believed that life and career goes together. You have to find a good balance between the two; you can’t over prioritise one over the other. But the bigger decision came about a year later, when the company I was working at completely shut down. So then I had to look for another job, especially because I was on a visa. And so I interviewed with a few different places, and I was offered a few jobs. It was a more challenging decision to make, because one of the jobs was working on building new and upcoming technologies. The pay was fantastic, and I had an amazing vibe about the manager I was to work with; he was incredibly knowledgeable and very creative. The other job was at Yahoo, and while the team was fantastic, it was a little less trending from a technology point of view. However, as a company, I evaluated that the work of that business was more exciting to me. One of the mistakes we often make is believing that if we know our technology well, we are going to succeed. You have to realize that unless you know the company’s business goals and know how your work align with those goals, it will be hard to succeed. And I realized that the number of career options for me at Yahoo were a better fit for who I am. And I went for that. With that I took a salary cut, but it was a better fit for me. So it was a difficult decision. But I had to look at the things that motivate me. You have to really ask yourself what is bothering you, what makes you happy, and almost always you will uncover what you need to help make a decision.

Q9: There may have been a lot of pressured situations for you at work. How did you deal with those?

RM: Pressure comes from different scenarios. There’s the pressure of managing all parts of your life, an important thing. You will notice that everything seems to happen at the same time. So, for me, I would have a child who was ill, my husband would be travelling, and a release at work would happen at the same time. The situations will come in many different ways. For me, by nature, I am a very calm person, so it doesn’t really bother me as much. I actually work better under pressure. But pressure comes in different ways.

For example, when I experienced pressure when I was at the company that was going through a rough patch. As a manager, it’s important that you are representing the right message to your team. No matter how bad the situation, there is always a positive. So, as a manager, I would read a lot about where the company was headed, and then I created a positive environment, meeting each week with my team. And I would always try to find a few success stories to highlight. As a team, we would look at underlying problems to see if we could find a solution. If it is your team, you have to educate them. Make the environment fun; it eases the pressure off other people. And a lot of the time, the pressure is not necessary; we put it on ourselves.


Don’t miss the first part of the Qualcomm Global Scholars Q&A. Rashmi shares advice on what university women in STEM can be actively doing to hone their soft skills and become more competitive in the tech workplace.

Grace Hopper Celebration India Inspiration, Fun and Everything In Between Soumya Mahalakshmi A

Grace Hopper Convention India

Creativity has always been my sanctuary. It has nurtured my thoughts and ideas, adding new dimensions to my visions so as to turn them into innovative solutions to everyday problems. For an ideas person, seeing their vision take flight is their Haven. Little did I know that there lies a greater joy in just being surrounded by ideas and inspiration, even if I had no association during the ideation.

The Grace Hopper Celebration India was exactly that. It was a collection of the best ideas in the technical landscape and a melting pot of the visions from the best minds in technology. Everything about the atmosphere at GHCI screamed creativity, excitement and most importantly, the determination of womankind at large. The first thing that caught my attention began right during the registration counters. The sheer number of women who had gathered there to attend the event was indeed overwhelming. As WeTech scholars, we have heard stories of triumph and hardship from other scholars, and we had come to understand that we had a cohort of fighters, despite being outnumbered. Looking at the whopping number of women who would accompany us in this journey of discovery through the next three days, it gave us a much needed sense of belonging. In the technical landscape, we come to accept the fact that sometimes, we are all alone as women. GHCI managed to break this stereotype, and it was a truly encouraging start to the rest of the event planned on December 7, 2016 at the White Orchid Convention Centre, Bengaluru.

Amidst the large population of women, a lot of us bonded over the long lunch lines, and I wouldn't be wrong if I said that some of these women and I will remain friends for life!. Despite having met over the course of a few short months, the other girls in the program and I had really missed each other's company. Over the course of the conference, we all had the same thing running in our minds, that we were really grateful to WeTech and the Anita Borg Institute for having given us this opportunity to be a part of a revolution of sorts, toward a more equal society.

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The conference atmosphere was amazing! From the anchors, to the organizers, and everything about the inauguration had us pumped up and excited. We had also just received our big bag of goodies, and everyone was grinning ear to ear! We were addressed by Telle Whitney, who was instrumental in bringing GHC to India. We could not express how grateful we were. Soon, we were addressed by Vanitha, MD IBM for a keynote. It was really inspiring when she began the talk with a trailer of the upcoming movie ‘Hidden Figures’ based on IBM’s women workforce during the space era. She started with the quote “ During the space race all of NASA’s computers were women!” We all realized that most of our battles began from within and so does our strength.

Grace Hopper India

Following that was a CxO panel, discussing change and leadership. It was enlightening, and we did manage to talk, chat and network over tea. We also met old acquaintances, faculty, and alumni from our institutions. The world is indeed small, at times like these! The evening ended with a grand show of cultural events, promising a new beginning, and better things to come.

Day 2 was another story entirely. Organized at Vivanta Taj, Bengaluru, the venue was split over the technical tracks, career fair, and the hands on lab. The career fair experience was one of a kind. Right from having a casual chat with senior leadership from the companies about the trends and opportunities, to collecting goodies from the stalls, it was one experience to cherish. Further, the hands on lab introduced us to technologies we wouldn't have otherwise had exposure to. It made us realize how much we didn't know, with most of us making silent reminders to check out all the cool tech stuff later, for projects and otherwise. The technical workshops were truly informative and unique. It was exciting to attend a workshop that helped us build our own Bots in a span of 90 minutes. It was coordinated by the Cortana team from Microsoft, and indeed we had walked out of the venue having built two Bots! The highlight of these workshops was that their themes were things that we always wanted to build and explore, but never had the time, as we felt it was too vast. However, in these workshops we walked away with a wealth of  knowledge of building, ideation and creation in such short spans of time, without compromising on the content! Kudos!

grace hopper conference india

Day 3 was on extension of most of the activities of Day 2, with Career and Management tracks replacing the Technical ones. The event concluded with the Women Entrepreneur Quest. At the end of it all, as I penned down my thoughts, I realized that this experience was unparalleled. I doubt if I will get this lucky again to be a part of such an amazing experience. However, GHCI taught me to quit crediting luck for our success and ourselves for the failure. GHCI gave me confidence in myself and also in the Women community, as I have never seen a show of strength and togetherness as the kind I have seen in GHCI. In essence, GHCI not only paved the roadmap for the social target of the country, but also managed to make the Indian society unlearn its uneasiness at having women enter the workforce, specially in vastly technical areas. In many ways, the women we met here were the catalysts who worked their way into revolutionizing the social framework of the India that we know today. GHCI also initiated conversation on the challenges faced by this unfazed women workforce, addressing the looming issues of women’s health, safety and equal pay to portray some of the most outstanding examples of Naarishakti in India. We could envision the evolution of the national fabric that would pulse towards inclusive development. At this juncture, all my gratitude goes to WeTech and International Institute of Education for arranging this experience for us to be a part of GHCI, which impacted us greatly,some in more ways than others, but all for the better.


Are you interested to learn more about the Qualcomm Global Scholars program? This dynamic program invests in young women internationally, supporting their education through scholarships and mentorships with professionals at Qualcomm.

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