Interview by Marija Butkovic @MarijaButkovic
Sarika Lamba loves to create products which the world loves. She lives by: "Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail".
She is an innovator and result oriented professional with strong technology background, and team/project management skills. Her experience includes product management for disruptive technologies, development, design, strategic partnerships and relationships and leading and building local and offshore teams.
She is passionate about enabling developers to build great applications and enabling great experiences. She is on advisory board and Country Head for a futuristic Advisory Firm, The Smarter Ceo.
What does your current job role entail? What projects are you working on at the moment?
Well, I started off as a software engineer with a specialization in wireless and mobile computing - and ended up filing my first patent in broadcasting :)
I went on to file more patents - and also mentor and setup a culture of Innovation with Samsung India way back in 2004, when it was almost nonexistent execution-wise, though there was a vision from Senior Leadership.
I went ahead and led various teams (almost setting up every team from ground zero and scaling it up in India and internationally) - in various domains like HDTV, multimedia, browsers, Samsung Developer Forum, and then the most exciting one being Digital Appliances. I was the one to start and set that team in India - and this team went on to launch Samsung Smart Home - mobile apps. That, later on, merged with product/platform called SmartThings. She has also honorarily led Innovation from India for almost a decade and represented India internationally.
How has your career progressed since your degree? Has it been an easy industry to get into or have you had many challenges?
The journey has been super challenging - with almost no woman in my teams, and as I grew up to be a tech leader, perhaps I was the only leader to have or encourage maximum women in my teams :) and also led market successful projects.
I have been a Senior Mentor to in-house and external technology startups / entrepreneurial ventures in SmartHome, Smart Cities, IoT, Mobile, Wearables, AI, Data sciences, etc. What super excites me is to mentor both in-house and external technology startups / entrepreneurial ventures - I love, love new ideas, and it’s fabulous to see them coming to fruition.
I went on to set up new pillars on mobility front on a very new area for the next firm (Sapient) - in their Capital Markets domain.
My recent most stint has been a year and half long assignment with an investment bank as a Senior Consultant - where I led their mobility front.
How long did it take you to be where you are now? What was the biggest obstacle?
I have always been of an entrepreneurial type - putting lots of passion in whatever setup or team(s) I worked with.
The biggest obstacle was to risk into new ventures, which, over the times became my specialty - and especially being a woman in tech - added to the challenge, as I had to stay away from home for long hours to meet critical deadlines - but that never stopped me :) Family support helped me contribute towards my professional career of almost a decade + long career at Samsung Electronics, and then later as well.
What are your biggest achievements to date?
Setting up a culture of Innovation from scratch, and leading it - mentoring people into thinking innovatively and guiding them patiently was one of the biggest challenges - and I overcame that successfully - over the years - because I am so passionate about Innovation, by nature I delve into looking for patentability in anything I work on.
I feel very proud of all the teams I led, but the Samsung Smart Home team is closest to my heart it challenged me at every level - new technology setup, new tech zone, new mobility practices, and team challenges) - but the product was pretty much awesome!
My expertise lies in Smart City and Smart Home ventures.
What does the #WomenInTech movement mean to you? What are the challenges of being a woman in IoT / STEM?
I totally support #WomenInTech / STEM - not just because I am a woman.
I not only encourage women to join technology but become leaders in the field - I earnestly look for brilliant women out there to be part of my team(s).
I HAVE BEEN THERE - DONE THAT!
Faced the issues, got promoted, failed sometimes, learnt from failures, and moved onto my next big thing and all. )The field is quite under-represented for various reasons, we need women leaders in technology to be at Senior Leadership positions and to be able to hold a vision and understand the industry from the women perspective.
I dropped out of Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (which is one of the top most ranked universities in India and the world) - to pursue the field I wanted to - that is - computers. The field is sparse, and is very much under-represented - more so in India and women drop out - either for marriage, kids, or elderly care. Not just that, the leaky pipeline leads to even lesser representation at the top levels.
In my personal experience, some of brilliant team members who worked with me were women. They were dedicated, had excellent management skills and were diligent in quality. Total respect. I would always, always have and support women to work in my teams - like I always have.
Another thing I find - very very few women entrepreneurs - I myself have been approached to be a co-founder / partner for some great tech startups/ VCs, and would want to, if the idea appeals to me.
I also respect Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In movement and would love to extend my support in any way.
In your opinion, what will be the key trends in the IoT industry in the next 5 years and where do you see it heading?
Oh well, IoT has expanded as a term per-se!
I see devices becoming more intelligent (having worked very closely with the ones way back in 2011 and I see how they have evolved over last 4-5 years), more human centric (especially with Smart Home / SmartThings, Nest and Echo, etc.).
The gap between man and machine is narrowing further, and the IoT umbrella just provides us more means to collaborate globally.
I definitely foresee international standardization and innovative collaboration amongst key OEMs to facilitate end to end solutions to the consumer.
With use of AI, and data-driven decisions taken into make lives easier and more meaningful.
I also foresee a major shift in retail, healthcare (personal /professional), and banking to highly benefit from this new revolution, if only they take the right steps now - keeping consumers in focus.
Who are your 3 inspirational women in IoT / STEM?
One is me - I inspire myself - I was a pioneer in India for the SmartHome/SmartCity /IOT movement - with smart home automation, and way back in 2004 for ubiquitous computing.
I love Marissa Meyer for her contributions.
I also love and respect Mary Barra (of GM) views on women in STEM.
LinkedIn: Sarika Lamba
Twitter: Sarika Lamba
This interview was conducted by Marija Butkovic, Digital Marketing and PR strategist, founder and CEO of Women of Wearables and co-founder of Kisha Smart Umbrella. She regularly writes and speaks on topics of wearable tech, fashion tech, IoT, entrepreneurship and diversity. Visit marijabutkovic.co.uk or follow Marija on Twitter @MarijaButkovic @Women_Wearables @GetKisha.