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Geetha Mahadeviah

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This article was originally posted on IndiaAI.gov.in

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Finding her calling on the road less taken


Geetha M recognized as one of IndiaAI’s 21 women in 2021

Like most young college students back in the 80s, Geetha Mahadeviah (Data & AI Excellence and Capability Lead at Philips) too wanted to pursue medicine, but she thinks she got lucky with STEM. I had to choose between pursuing a bachelor’s degree in science and enrolling for the first batch of the bachelor’s in Computer Science & Engineering course offered at the Bangalore University. The year was 1981, and no one had a clue about how the software industry would shape up and there was little to draw inspiration from. Many even advised me against it as women pursuing engineering seemed unusual at that time, but I decided to pursue it anyway. To my surprise, I enjoyed studying engineering. I was fond of maths and science and the other subjects we were introduced to. Since, the course was a new one, our lecturers were also learning with us. It was challenging and it pushed me to learn on my own with some guidance and direction. I strongly believe that this ability of ’selftutoring’ is a very valuable skill set, it is one that has always kept me on my toes. Being in the technology industry, it is easy to feel outdated, so one must keep learning and stay updated on the latest technology. Discovering how technology enables and contributes to meaningful work, would drive motivation for the long haul.
AI precision diagnosis

Family support a pillar of strength

My family has always encouraged and supported me to pursue my career. I am incredibly grateful to my parents who have stood by me throughout my academic journey and career. They have supported me in taking care of my kids when they were young. In fact, I have had no career breaks except for the two maternity leaves of 3 months each, for both my kids.
A support system is simply indispensable. You need to surround yourself with a healthy environment where you can be open with your peers, seniors, and colleagues. This is not just to lend you their ear but having someone to help and guide you through those phases is crucial.

Versatility of women as career professionals

I believe that women have a lot more to offer at work given the different roles that they play in their lives. Women also tend to be more inclined to be involved in work which keeps them connected with people, nurturing roles. Being in the technology industry, it is easy to feel outdated, so one must keep learning and stay updated on the latest technology. Discovering how technology enables and contributes to meaningful work, would drive motivation for the long haul. Attributes like preparedness, being ambitious and the willingness to constantly learn and unlearn along the way, make a great recipe for a fulfilling career. As primary caregivers, women need to balance their career and personal lives, often leading them to quit their careers, impacting professional growth. Women must work harder to positively reinforce their position in STEM and overcome the bias. Regardless of an organization being progressive or modern, I believe your immediate manager’s mindset and support can make or break your career. In an early career phase, aspects such as financial capabilities and family obligations play a critical role in deciding career paths. Therefore, it is important to guide and advice young women to stay in the workforce. In my ability, I constantly encourage women employees to try and get back to their career post their maternity leave.
Geetha Mahadeviah
I believe that women have a lot more to offer at work given the different roles that they play in their lives. Women also tend to be more inclined to be involved in work which keeps them connected with people, nurturing roles.

Philips is a great place to work and provides equal opportunity in terms of roles and career growth across grades & levels. At Philips, we have flexible policies that allow for a thriving work culture that includes, rewards, flexible policies, and benefits to help women get back to their careers.

Advice to 20-year old self

“I would encourage the young professional to be ambitious, curious and aim higher. I believe the universe works in strange ways to make your dreams come true. Most importantly, do not stop learning and gain all the knowledge and wisdom life has to offer. There is simply so much to gain and nothing to lose.”


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