Maria Jesus Martinez
Sundari Parekh, the Vice President of IT Security Risk at Activision, came to speak at the Richards College of Business on Thursday, March 2 for “Celebrating Women Making History.” Hosted and organized by the Women in Technology On-campus organization, the event celebrated the work of Parekh as a woman of color in the gaming world, a field majorly dominated by men.
“In the world of cyber security, there are only about 24% women that work in that field,” said Dr. Jeannie Pridmore, Director & Professor of UWG’s Management Information Systems Department (MIS), at the beginning of the conference. “When you look at women of color, it gets to 9%, so cyber security is a field that is in desperate need of diversity.”
Parehk was invited by UWG Alumni John Ramdath. They worked together at InComm, Parekh’s previous organization. After being introduced by Pridmore, Parekh was interviewed with four questions by Abrianna Warner, the president of UWG’s Women in Technology organization. The second half of the conference opened the discussion for anyone to ask questions.
This was Parekh’s first time being invited to speak at a university. For Parehk, being invited by UWG was an honor and she felt pleased and humbled by the experience.
“I spend a lot of my career working in security, technology and fields that are male dominated and to be recognized as a woman in leadership and to be asked to speak at an organization like this, it’s a big deal for me,” said Parekh. “I really enjoy speaking and sharing my experiences, my stories. Collaborating with faculty is a totally different experience outside of the work world.”
Throughout the event, Parekh had different advice to students. One of them was to try to balance their time between work and life. Parehk feels that one of her challenges as a female leader is finding balance.
“There was a lecture a few years ago about juggling the balls and how you have to keep the balls all going at the same time,” said Parekh. “Sometimes your work ball is up in the air and family one is lower and you just have to keep juggling. And that resonated with me so hard because it is all a juggling situation. I want to be the best mom, the best wife, the best employee, the best everything.”
Parekh also mentioned the importance of diversity in companies and that every employee has something to contribute. Even as an Indian woman like herself, she may have a different social background or education.
“We should not be afraid to take a seat at the table. I think sometimes we expect the seat to be pulled out for us, and I don’t anymore,” said Parekh. “I sit down and I give my opinion, I am verbal about what it is that we need to do. I think as leaders at an organization and women in general we need to own that we are good in whatever our expertise is and provide that feedback.”
On the other hand, Parekh has noticed a shift on diversity and inclusion of women in the technology world.
“In Activision we have hired more women in security and into the organization and I am seeing a shift,” said Parekh. “I think there is a younger population that is interested in gaming, whereas previously it was more of a male dominated thing. I do feel that more women are integrating into the organization.”