What you think, you become!

Merishna Singh Suwal is the Chief Technology Officer and Data Scientist at Kharpann as well as the co-founder of The Click Reader. Through her work, she is educating and helping people who are starting or transitioning into the Data Science industry. Their vision is to become an essential absolute landmark for data science education.

While starting her journey in Data Science, Merishna found that there were not many platforms that provided a guided roadmap for learning data science. In light of this, Merishna co-founded The Click Reader — an all-inclusive data science educational platform, targeted towards helping people get started with Data Science. In just five months of operation, The Click Reader has garnered around 10k + students from various countries. Suwal’s responsibilities at The Click Reader involve creating an in-depth data science curriculum and courses. She also delivers video lectures for different courses offered by the platform.

Suwal’s programming journey started with the C programming language in her high school. While she did not like programming at first, she developed an interest in programming and problem solving with time.

Influenced by her father, Suwal was initially interested in pursuing Civil Engineering. Later, in high school, she realized that she enjoyed programming much more and decided to pursue a college degree in Computer Engineering.

“Programming came very naturally to me, and it felt like I could create anything with a few lines of code. It also channeled my creative energy; when I was programming, there was a flow of creativity that made me love the field of computing.”

Suwal was introduced to data science when she was in the third year at college. In her college, she worked on a facial recognition project which inspired her and her teammates to pursue Artificial Intelligence and Data Science. While exploring Data Science, she was driven by the multitude of awesome things she could build with it. She also started being involved in related communities like AID (Artificial Intelligence for Development), where she worked as a Community Leader and helped organize a lot of workshops for women communities.

Suwal, along with her team, has also organized a one-day women coders’ boot camp in association with UNDP. She has also worked as a mentor for the Robotics Association of Nepal. These engagements got her more inclined to the field of Data Science. She is also a member of the winning team at Yomari Code Camp, where they developed a disability-related virtual assistant. Her continuous efforts at participating in different events and learning helped her build a strong profile and understand the problems of a beginner stepping into data science.

Talking about her early career days, she started at Docsumo.com, a Mumbai-based company. She was the first female employee in the office and even though she expected it to be difficult fitting in an all-male team, it wasn’t the case due to the supportive environment in the company.

“At first, I used to feel a little uncomfortable since the founders and colleagues were all males. Eventually, I was able to overcome those insecurities with time, and it has been a really good journey till now. Other than my own innate biases, I have not faced any challenges because of my gender at work.”

At the present day, in her role as the CTO at Kharpann, Suwal vets applicants for hiring in different technical roles at the company. However, she mentions that there are very few women candidates actively applying for data science positions.

Suwal shares, “Whenever we open hiring positions at the company, we see about a 10:1 ratio of male to female candidates. We’re not able to pinpoint the reason behind this but we can sense a lack of exposure of women towards the opportunities in this field.”

“The expectations that family and society have for women at many times affect the career choices of many women in our community,” she adds.

“We have been conditioned to believe that girls are good at home science, arts, and humanities, whereas boys are good at subjects like science, programming, and mathematics. But things are not as grim as they were before, and society is rapidly changing. To eliminate this bias, I think women have a crucial role to play. Unless they show that they can speak up and follow their passion, things will stay the same.”

While it is still challenging, Suwal encourages women to rise above all of these and choose what they want to pursue. Besides, she asks women to stay motivated and keep following their passion. She believes that the rest will follow through.

Suwal has great admiration for women-centric communities that support women and their careers in tech and beyond. While she commends the works of these communities, she also stands by her belief that a woman who is passionate about tech and has the drive to surpass any hurdles that come in her way, can thrive in tech without the help of any communities.

“The main role that communities play is that they introduce you to a cohort of women who have already been there where you want to be, tasted success, and thrived in tech. This provides one with the feeling that they can get good at something if another woman with the same or harder circumstance did it. This motivates one to achieve their goals with confidence.”

Suwal thinks her most significant success was establishing her company, Kharpann because she never thought she would be an entrepreneur. She had moments of doubt and fear of whether she could pull off what she started or not. According to her, the key is to keep pushing yourself and not giving up despite the challenges. It’s been only three years into her career, but she feels that she has contributed quite a bit, and rightfully so.

Suwal strongly believes that the people you surround yourself with play a vital role in the way your life becomes. Her friends were supportive of her every endeavor. They wanted to grow, so she grew with them. Her inspiration comes from her belief in one of the Buddha’s quotes- “What you think, you become.” Suwal concludes that if we think we cannot do it, we will not even try. She says that when we stop trying, we stop growing. So we must at least try.

“When you try and fail, you will at least feel like you’ve tried. But what if you don’t fail? You’ll surely reach farther than where you’ve started.”

This article is written by Sarayu Gautam, a member of Nepali Women in Computing.