As a woman in tech, CIBC’s Sukhpreet Birdi joined Hackergal’s first all-girls hackathon on Parliament Hill this Spring.
Growing up Sukhpreet really enjoyed learning, analyzing and solving problems — whether it was an equation or a jigsaw puzzle. Her curiosity led her to Computer Science, but it wasn’t love at first sight! Her first encounter with coding made her wonder whether software technology would lead to an exciting career. Luckily, after a short time, she realized writing code wasn’t so scary and similar to a jigsaw puzzle, she could get through it one piece at a time!
Fast forward to today, Sukhpreet Birdi is the Senior Manager for the Technology Operations team supporting Personal Banking and Products at CIBC. In her role, Sukhpreet works with the development and business teams to deliver the latest technology solutions designed to make banking easier for clients.
Whether the customer is looking to apply for a new bank account, or fund a mortgage for their new home or manage savings for school, we ensure the technology our clients rely on to do their banking is available any time of the day, so they can achieve and exceed their financial goals.
So tell us about what you saw on the Hill!
Supporting the first all-girls hackathon at Parliament Hill was a privilege and a unique experience I had personally not witnessed until May 8, 2019. By bringing schools, educators, and women in STEM together in one collaborative environment, Hackergal created a fun and engaging space for the girls to apply their new coding skills, ask questions, problem solve and be creative. It was delightful to see the girls use code to showcase their stories focused on an aspect of health and well-being, and when the code didn’t work to plan they stuck together to find just the right fix. While it’s always rewarding to see completed code work, getting there can seem daunting and at times, impossible. Through the resources and support offered at the hackathon, I could see the girls’ confidence and enthusiasm grow for coding and technology! This is so important as we strive to inspire and encourage more women to pursue education and careers in STEM.
What do you think is the most rewarding part of being a woman in the tech industry?
The most rewarding part of working in the technology industry is seeing how new technology solutions positively change the way people carry out their day-to-day tasks. For example, mobile banking has enabled us to seamlessly perform transactions like paying rent through Interac e-Transfers, depositing cheques easily using eDeposit, or sending money to family abroad using Global Money Transfer. Tech solutions such as these are focused on making customers lives easier and simpler, while empowering them to confidently stay on top of their finances. Being a woman in technology, I have the opportunity to bring a unique perspective to the table as we collectively work in this digital age to cater solutions to a diverse audience.
Where do you think the future of technology is headed and what does this mean for the girls?
I think the future of technology will continue to push boundaries and bring more innovative solutions that meet the needs of a diverse set of people. To help us get there, the next generation of girls needs to know the importance of their diverse ideas, talents, and ambition.
What do you think young women need to know/hear/see to consider technology as a career option?
Young women need to know there are endless possibilities when pursuing a career in technology and no matter which industry you apply your skills to, you will be collaborating with many other talented people, pushing boundaries and helping improve the way we live.
If you could travel back in time, what would you tell your younger self? What do you wish you learned in school?
I was fortunate my elementary school in Toronto offered many opportunities and support to all students. If I were to go back in time, I would tell the younger me to use that support to the fullest — ask questions, share my opinions and not be afraid of failure. We grow as individuals and as a team when we approach problems by applying our individual uniqueness and talents, and trying out solutions.
What has helped you get to where you are now and what advice would you have for young women who want to set off in a similar direction?
Surround yourself with people who are ambitious, who you can learn from, who are not afraid to take a chance and genuinely care about making the world a better place.