We spoke to Chetna about the highs and lows of her career in tech, and how she’s come out on top.

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Chetna Batra Arora, I work as a Software Engineering Manager for Customer Domain in BT Technology. When I joined Plusnet in 2013, BT was a separate company. It has been roughly a year since merging into a new team as part of wider BT. 

I have done a variety of roles working in India (where I started my career), the USA and the UK.

At BT I lead Scrum teams who deliver complex projects using agile methodology for business customers and CSC (Customer Service Centre) agents. Customer Domain has 3 scrum teams comprising of domain leads, software engineers, quality engineers, system analysts and principal engineers. We work closely with business to understand their requirements and work iteratively to deliver changes to market all the way through the year. I love working in a very fast paced environment, where change is the only constant. 

What helped you to decide on a career in tech?

I am a small-city girl from India. I was the first engineer in my family, the first woman to move out of house to pursue a job in a metro city (Mumbai), and the first woman in the family to travel to the USA.

I was able to open an avenue for all my siblings and friends, to a world that they were scared of and didn’t want to enter. My father used to work in BSNL (an Indian, government owned telecommunications company). I often visited his office and saw how manual their work was, it inspired me to do something to make their lives easier. That’s when I decided to pursue my career in it. When I was in my final year at school, I created a telephone directory management system for his office, which was widely used. I taught the staff basic computer skills and could see the child-like excitement on the faces of 50-year olds. I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. 

You’ve been nominated for a number of awards, which has been your biggest achievement?

When I landed in the UK in 2009, I had to start my career from scratch after 9 years of working in IT. I started as a Call Centre Agent for British Gas for 6 months before I landed my first Software Engineer role. I had to work my way up from the start, to a domain lead role. When I finally had the honor of winning below set of awards, I felt thankful and humbled. 

  • Winner – WISE Awards
  • Winner – wearethecity Women in Tech Award
  • Shortlisted – Asian Women of Achievement Award

I’m a strong believer of women’s education in STEM, which is why I work with Ahead Partnership. They work across the country with employers and educators to provide services that help employers to engage, inspire and motivate young people around skills, career options and future employment. I go to schools to deliver messages to young girls on importance of taking STEM subjects, my journey so far, and challenges I’ve faced as a woman.

I also work with Women of the Future and WISE group, who are both determined to work to improve diversity and inclusion at all levels. ​

My greatest goal is to live to see a world where there is a workplace with 50-50 workforce division between men and women. 

What has been the most exciting project you’ve worked on?

Most exciting project of my career was hands down the most complex technical delivery in the history of Plusnet Technology (BT) team. We migrated our Billing systems to RBM, a new billing engine. I spent 4 long years working on this project and it was the most rewarding -but at the same time painful- experience of my career. I learnt lessons that no book can teach live on that project, I managed close to 50 engineers under different teams including permanent staff and contractors. I feel I have grown as a manager during the delivery of Billing Program and learnt kindness in leadership is most important virtue one can have. 

What advice would you give to someone looking towards a career in tech?

Do what you love to do in life. If you pursue your career in a subject you love at school; this will be a career full of enjoyment throughout your life. If you plan to choose a career in technology, self-learning is the most important skill and you need to keep doing it throughout your career. If you stop learning, you stop growing. 

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