Inspiring MBAs: Meet inclusion advocate Tribeni Chougule

11 March 2021

Inclusion advocate, change agent, mentor and Executive MBA candidate, Tribeni Chougule is high-achieving and in constant pursuit of a challenge. Recent years have seen Tribeni featured on impressive lists such as Top Asian Stars in UK Tech (2020), Standout 35 Women in Fintech Powerlist (2019), Women in Fintech Powerlist (2018) and TechWomen 100 (2018). Passionate about women and ethnic minorities in tech, Tribeni is a member of  techUK's Skills and Diversity Council and hopes to pave the way to a more inclusive sector.

We couldn’t wait for the opportunity to speak to Tribeni about her career in the tech sector, the importance of diversity and inclusion, and her Executive MBA experience.

Can you tell us more about your inspiring career trajectory?

In 21 years of my career, it has been fascinating to experience multiple geographies and industries, living or working in India, the US, Bucharest, Luxembourg and the UK. Learning from experiencing the cultures has been as enriching as the work itself. When I dreamt of a technology career, I never aspired for a life abroad but thoroughly enjoyed it when I got the opportunity. I started my professional life as an ABAP programmer (SAP’s programming language) after my engineering. I thoroughly enjoyed working with different clients across the globe and on various SAP products.

Into my second job in my career, I realised that my workplace was a significant component of my life and I never liked just doing my core day job. This saw me participate and actively contribute in multiple initiatives – conduct ABAP training for colleagues, who then got redeployed into SAP projects, volunteer my project to be evaluated for the division’s CMMi level 5 evaluation, drive people engagement through a group called FRIENDS, mentoring etc. I continued this in the UK, where initially I missed being in a physical space with my colleagues as we were mostly working in the clients’ premises. Therefore, with the Europe HR team, I organised online events to enable all employees to participate. I also then set up the women’s network for the region, and it was very well received by my colleagues. Being recognised for this by Mr Azim Premji, Chairman of Wipro, was a huge recognition.

What does diversity and inclusion mean to you?

My passion for diversity, inclusion and social impact has been a significant aspect of my life. I have found different ways to be engaged with this cause – through involvement in networks at my workplace or cross-company councils such as the TechUK Skills and Diversity Council. I have established my own STEM bursary helping girls from disadvantaged backgrounds pursuing degree-level education. This is with the vision of improving the percentage of women in the workforce and engaging them to help other girls and women towards our pursuit of equality.

How can male-dominated sectors achieve true gender equality?

Workforces across all industries need to be a good representation of society. Technology needs this even more as it is becoming such an inevitable part of our lives. Only when there are diverse thoughts and opinions will innovation thrive, and one can expect solutions suitable for all sections of society. For true diversity to prosper and deliver impact in organisations, a crucial component is a psychological safety. We all can contribute to this by being empathetic, willing to listen, challenging our own cognitive biases and assumptions and being aware of our self-limiting barriers. Our careers may be riddled with challenges. But as women, and irrespective of our own career journeys, we can help other women by supporting them, unblocking obstacles, helping them navigate and developing their confidence. We can all play our part in making workplaces better for one and all and for driving inclusion.

What inspired you to apply for our Executive MBA?

The MBA was destined to happen when it did because I plunged into it when I was uncertain what to do next in my career and what was I missing to feeling contentment. It was a step towards fulfilling a long-cherished dream that had been put on hold to attend to higher priorities in life. Returning to formal studies for the Executive MBA after twenty years of leaving college was nerve-racking and exciting at the same time.

What have you gained from the MBA?

The MBA has given me all that I expected and much more. Before embarking on it, I associated the MBA with equipping me with the knowledge that would benefit my professional world. Yet, it has given me multiple new perspectives for my life as a whole through the interactions with my classmates, professors, admissions and programme team and the superlative WBS CareersPlus team. The classroom conversations (many a time online – courtesy of COVID) have been so rich due to diverse applications of the same concept in different industries. The assignments have generated so much learning and have provided me with avenues to explore areas that I otherwise wouldn’t have or didn’t think to be interesting.

What advice would you give to prospective female MBA candidates?

To all those ladies, who have considered an MBA and their instinct told them it would benefit them, I would urge you to listen to your inner calling and find a way to do it. Only you, as an individual, can determine how to maximise the learnings and utilise them. What you can get out of it is a very personal journey. It does require an undeterred commitment, and there will be numerous moments of self-doubt once you start. Still, your personal transformation will be profound and one for you to savour for yourself and will be all worthwhile.

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