As Engineers Week progresses, HARMAN continues celebrating its engineers and their remarkable impact by showcasing more stories from our designers, inventors and visionaries. Next up is a Q&A with HARMAN’s Vice President of Systems and Software Engineering, Sripriya Raghunathan.
Q. How did you first become interested in engineering?
A. My interest in engineering started during my middle school days. My father was a math professor in an Engineering College in India and he would always discuss various engineering subjects at home such as Discrete Mathematics, Operational Research, and Environmental Science. Every summer, he would talk about his graduating class, the entering class, their credentials, and the number of girls in the class. We are a family of three sisters and so it was always fascinating to hear about women engineers. And as it turned out, all three of us are now engineers working in the software field.
Q. What made you specifically gravitate toward software engineering?
A. When I was in high school from 1987-1991, computer science or software engineering was the new attraction. It became common knowledge that anyone who wanted to work for the best technology companies had to opt for software engineering and it was in high demand. Since I enjoyed math and always had a critical thinking-based mindset – it was natural for me to gravitate towards computer engineering.
I also preferred computer engineering to other areas like mechanical or civil engineering for several reasons. One key reason was the fast pace at which you could deliver change. While mechanical or civil engineering have more engineering aspects, it takes time to see the results of your action. In software engineering, you can make the changes yourself and see these changes materialize in real-time in front of your eyes and that is what fascinated me to choose computer engineering. When it comes to software, you can take charge to force an action -- and I love that aspect.
Q. What was your education and early professional experiences like? Have you seen the field of software engineering evolve during your time in the field?
A. After acquiring my computer engineering degree in college, I worked as a software engineer at a telecom company in India. On arriving in the U.S. in 1998 after my marriage, I found a telecom job in Ann Arbor and got back to work rather quickly. While I always wanted to pursue a Master’s degree, I never got the opportunity as I was hired so quickly and ever since I’ve been focused on just on-the-job learning. But you never know, maybe I’ll still go and get an MBA degree someday.
Yes, software engineering has seen tremendous improvement in the last 25 years with wireless technologies, smart phones, and internet technologies transforming our everyday life into a connected digital world. Software is everywhere -- from home appliances to cars and phones, and I cannot imagine life without it.
Q. How has your time at HARMAN been like? Having been at the company for around 13 years now, how would you describe your journey?
A. The journey so far at HARMAN has been incredible! At HARMAN, I started working for the Connected Car division from 2004 as a Senior Software Engineer from the Farmington Hills office. I had the pleasure of working on all head units that the North American Connected Car division had produced for various OEMs. I chose the technical ladder first and grew up to Senior Principal Engineer leading the Vehicle Interface SW team.
Around 2011, HARMAN leadership empowered me to manage a small team and this is when I began my leadership journey and switched to management track. While I always enjoyed technical work, I loved managing teams while staying true to my core technical skills. I enjoy a strong connection with my team because of my technical background, as I understand their problems and can provide them with tangible guidance.
Once HARMAN’s leadership noticed my progress as a leader, they provided me with greater responsibilities and today I am responsible for delivering software for all of NA connected car. And I am looking forward to more challenging opportunities ahead!
Q. What are some of your team’s accomplishments you’re proud of the most?
A. One recent and big accomplishment that comes to mind is the phenomenal work my teams did in delivering the first Android head unit for General Motors.
While I remain always proud of my team’s ability in meeting their production goals, I’m looking to focus more on innovative areas such as autonomous technologies. I’d love to focus my efforts on R&D initiatives here in addition to my responsibilities in leading production software. I’m looking forward to working with my teams to further unlock productivity and leverage their capabilities in developing innovative solutions.
For more on Sripriya, checkout her 2017 recognition with Diversity Journal’s Women Worth Watching: http://www.womenworthwatching.com/sripriya-raghunathan/