Have a little courage in your heart

Janaki Joshi is a General Manager at Blue Panda Communications. She is catalyst for Spiral Nepal, which is a group of women Agilists in Nepal based on Lean in Agile. She is also an active community member for Agile Nepal and Atlassian User Group Kathmandu (AUG).

Janaki grew up in Mahendranagar, a city in the far-western region of Nepal. She completed her SLC, in which she became the female topper from her city. Like most of her contemporaries, she then came to Kathmandu for her high school studies with an aspiration to become a doctor. She faced her first setback when she was unable to crack the MBBS exam, and this left her with the question of what to do next. After much deliberation, considering the positive prospects of a bright career with an engineering degree, she decided to pursue Computer Engineering instead of waiting for another year to take the MBBS entrance exam. She joined the National College of Engineering, where she was the only female student in the program. She recalls being as competent as her other classmates but says she was never confident enough.

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“Even though I had a strong knowledge of how things worked, I was never confident enough to deliver it.”

After graduating from engineering in 2009, Janaki wanted to work as a software engineer, but she was not able to crack the interviews. After a few attempts, she decided to take some time to evaluate what went wrong. Around the same time, she also started training students in various NIIT-designed programming courses at NIIT Institute. She joined Lord Buddha Education Foundation (LBEF) as a facilitator, where she taught different courses to engineering students. Actively evaluating all her experiences made her realize that her shy nature and not being able to deliver what she knows had cost her the dream job she wanted. So, she decided to join an Oracle training program, where she performed exceptionally well that led to her first job as a software engineer at Professional Computer System.

“Instead of letting my failures hold me back, I actively started looking for solutions. I worked on my confidence and interview skills every day in front of a mirror and my family members until the day it worked.”

Being a woman in tech was not easy for Janaki. Just when she learned to win over her self-doubts, she had to deal with co-workers who believed that women took longer to learn things.

“Not everyone, but some of my co-workers used to tell me that I would not be able to do things because I was a girl. They would not even let me try.”

“I have lost opportunities for being a girl,” says Janaki. She goes on to share an incident where she had passed all the tests and interviews for the position of IT Officer at a bank, only to lose it because the hiring managers thought she would not be able to work late hours given she was a girl.

“Tech industry is demanding, and I understand that. There are times when I had worked until 4 AM in the morning. You need to give women a chance to see what they can do.”

However, these biases that exist in the Nepali tech industry against women did not stop Janaki. She worked consistently to move forward in her career. After working at Professional Computer System for three years, she moved to Cotiviti Nepal (formerly known as Verscend Nepal) as a software engineer. During her time at Cotiviti, she explored different roles including Software Engineer, Scrum Master, and Project Manager for an engineering team working in Medical Intelligence (MI).

Today, Janaki is a General Manager at Blue Panda Communications and has expertise in project management, project planning, team building, and working with cross-functional teams across the organization. As she continues on her journey, she encourages young girls willing to pursue a career in tech to work towards their dreams and not give up.

“Your dream and determination have to be bigger than your fears and failures. Working in tech requires a lot of patience and enthusiasm to learn and build things as new technologies emerge every day. Also, you are not any less skilled just because you are a woman. The only thing that will ever stop you is your own doubts, low self-esteem and lack of courage. Your growth in this career is inevitable and unimaginable. Keep faith in yourself, have a little courage in your heart, and go for it.”