Whenever International Women Day swings by in the lab, our team enjoys the opportunity to reflect and pay tribute to influential women. CEO, Sarat Pediredla, explains why we value the occasion and expands on how hedgehog lab are adapting to embrace diversity and inclusion.
Diversity & Inclusion is a complex issue that is currently high on our agenda. Historically, as a company that has been focused on aggressive growth, we have made plenty of mistakes in driving that agenda. We have followed where others have led and frankly as CEO, I simply did not do enough to execute on this issue. As recently as mid-2018, we had no women in our leadership team and our approach to the matter was reactive.
In 2018, we decided to put our money where our mouth is, and I tasked our Head of People to make D&I a key pillar in our 2019 priorities. We have a long way to go before we achieve our lofty ambitions (for example, our Executive team has only 2 women out of 11) but we are excited by the challenge ahead of us.
In that spirit, this year, we took things a step further and had ourselves an International Women’s Week!
The class of 2019 🏆
We’d kick things off with a call to action from our Product Manager, Ben Darrah, who asked people across our entire team to nominate the inspirational women who we respect, love, and who have a positive influence on our lives. We'd go on to include all those nominated in our ‘class of 2019’, a group that’d allow us to mark the launch of our very own lab ladies hall of fame.
You can read on to find out more about this one, but for now, we want to share Ben’s message of invitation for nominations. Within, he perfectly encapsulates the importance of not just celebrating IWD, but in fighting for and living to the values it represents, explaining:
"As a man, I think it’s especially important for us to get involved in recognising the woman we admire. As of today, in the 21st Century, the male position of privilege persists worldwide. The systematic change required to balance the boardroom, representative democracy, media and pay must be met with a fundamental change in the way men recognise privilege and act on the cultural and behavioural imbalances that impact women in the workplace and wider society on a daily basis.
"Achieving balance is not a woman’s issue, or a business issue; it’s a people issue."
A trip to the flicks 📽️
Our UX Designer, Claire McGuinness, quickly followed up Ben's request for submissions to our hall of fame by firing out invitations for a team cinema outing in Gateshead on Tuesday evening.
The group would gather to watch On the Basis of Sex, a legal drama that tells the true and inspirational story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an attorney and new mother who fought for equal rights and changed the way courts view gender discrimination.
Claire's fellow Designer, Duncan Bell, was part of the group who made the trip across the River Tyne, and shared his thoughts on the movie:
"The film taught me a lot, it was an informative & entertaining showing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s story, which I didn’t know much about beforehand.
"While there’s still a lot to bemoan in US politics, events and films like this are proof of how much can be improved in just a generation once the conversation gets going. Initiatives like IWD encourage these conversations to move forward worldwide.
"As a designer, the story also serves as a reminder of how important it is to avoid designing with bias, especially from the privileged perspective of a white man. The ripple-effect of biased design can have consequences for decades to come, as shown by the archaic laws the film is based on.
"On a more simple level, team outings like this one are yet another reminder of what a wonderful bunch of people I’m blessed to have as teammates here at hedgehog lab."
A kickass self-defence session🥋
Over in Hyderabad meanwhile our Talent Manager, Swapna Julian, was hard at work arranging a fun martial arts self-defence training session for those in our team. Swapna explained:
"The session is basically designed to help us by giving an insight on how to be alert as well as tricks on techniques for escape, defence and attack when we're in trouble."
SEO Strategist, Sandhya Kakinada, shared her thoughts after participating in the session, saying:
"I found the session very useful as it gave me the chance to get to know the basics in how to become more alert."
Android Developer, Sheetal Sharma backed that up, too:
"I enjoyed it and found it useful - some of the tips and tricks are really very useful for us."
A morning highlighting inspirational women in the North East 🗣️
The lab's leadership team also encouraged all females within our UK team the opportunity to spend Friday morning at an International Women’s Day celebration at Hope Street Xchange, Sunderland. The event highlights the fantastic work being done across the North East to support women through education and into work through a range of fascinating guest speakers.
Lynsey Sweeney spoke ahead of the trip to Wearside, saying:
"I'm looking forward to attending the IWD event in Sunderland as I'm really interested to hear the stories of how people reached their goals and overcame the issues that they encountered along the way. I think the purpose of the event in helping to remove obstacles that prevent people from achieving their goals and promoting ways to help women fulfil their ambitions is a great cause and something I'd like to support. I think the speaker line up is full of inspirational and motivational people and I'm especially looking forward to taking away some new perspectives on things from the talks.
"I've had the privilege to have grown up in a time and place where I've had opportunities that weren't available to most women in previous generations and still aren't available to a lot of women now. I'm also extremely lucky to have a massively supportive partner and family and friends who have encouraged and supported me and allowed me the freedom to make my own choices in life and follow my own path. I think celebrating International Women's Day is significant to me as it means recognising that these things aren't the case for so many women, finding the causes of inequality for women and trying to provide solutions to increase opportunities for all people."
Introducing (some of!) the class of 2019. 👏
Despite the best efforts of GDPR to prevent us from sharing any of our class of 2019, we’re delighted to be able to show off at some (and yes there were even more!) of the wonderful women that our team admire.
Below, you can find the submissions in their unedited glory, kicking off with none other than the grandmother of hedgehog lab...
I nominate my Grand Mother - Krishnamma Pediredla.
My grandmother (bless her soul) was an amazing woman. She is the reason why my family is where it is. After my grandfather passed away during my father’s childhood, she took on the responsibility of earning for the family, she took over our farmlands and worked day and night to ensure that my father could get the education that he wanted. It is because of her hard work that my father could go away to the city to get educated, which resulted in him getting a very good job and moving from a small village in India to the crazy world of Dubai.
This opportunity that my father had received was the platform that enabled me and my brother to be able to pursue the education that we wanted and be able to pursue the entrepreneurial journey that my brother was able to take.
While doing all this she was also the unofficial head of our village, where I remember everyone in the village would come to her to talk to her and get her view on topics ranging from farming practices to how to go about arranging wedding ceremonies. She was loved by everyone and she ensured that she treated everyone in the village with equal love and respect. Even after all our achievements in life when we return to our village for holidays, we are still recognised as Krishnamma’s grandchildren, which speaks for the respect she had and still receives in the village.
Nominated by Krishna Pediredla
My granny continues to teach me the value of family, the importance of confidence, for being bold enough to stand up for what you believe in. She has nurtured in me the meaning of equality, empathy and humility; to love completely and fiercely. My granny has taught me that strength and kindness are not mutually exclusive. She has given me courage; courage to break traditional taboo’s, change my mind, to take chances. Courage to be curious, ask questions, make decisions. Courage to explore, learn, fall down, make mistakes and to be responsible for my future.
My granny refuses to buy in to the tradition of marriage. When her boyfriend of forty years, Phil was diagnosed with Parkinson's. She discreetly became his full-time carer. The graceful way she nurtures him through the daily activities we all take for granted without an ounce of pity or self-depreciation, ensures her tough aussie boyfriend retains every ounce of pride. Recently, when I asked after him, her response was, “Well, he’s making my coffee right now, as he bloody well should be”.
Writing this reminded me to call her and to remind her of all of the ways she is my favourite human. So, I did, and I told her all of these things that I know I don’t tell her enough. She laughed, “jo bax, are you pissed?”
Women are kickass! There is no other woman I admire or aspire to be like, more so than my granny. She encapsulates what it means to be wholeheartedly, unashamedly, completely you.
Nominated by Zoe Wheeler
Rhi, my wonderful girlfriend and a friend to everyone in the lab. She is a loving, genuine, caring lady and takes an interest in every individual she meets and is keen to make them a friend. I've always been envious of how easily she can get to know somebody and really connect with them.
She has found it very difficult in the past to find her place in the lab, from 'Assistant to the Executives' to 'Events Coordinator', however, she has never felt fulfillment from these roles. She's found her place now - and of course - People and Experience. Ensuring people are happy, cared for, have what they need, physically and mentally to do their jobs and enjoy coming to work. This is Rhi down to a tee; this is what she enjoys doing. It's heartwarming to see how passionate Rhi is about her role (even more so, after the rocky journey getting here) and trust me, I know - I hear about it every minute of the day. I don't think we realise how lucky we are to have someone so passionate, looking out for each one of us.
If I had to thank hedgehog lab for one thing during my time here, it would be that I got to meet Rhi, someone who makes me smile and laugh daily and is adored by my family and friends. She's a belter.
This one's to Rhi ❤️
Nomination by Stephen Jefferson (System Architect)
The most inspired women I ever met, with sorrows, with smile, with cry, with anger, most of all her unconditional love, even after me messing some things in life.
The one with “Mom”.
Nominated by Fatin Wasta.
The only soul with whom I can resonate high with. Her one smile in morning, is my daily drug to keep me inspired and to remind me, NEVER GROW UP.
The one with my niece “Falaah”.
“Though these are not the only women, there are lot of them, so I would like to take a moment and say thanks to the universe and them, that they came into my life and taught me, helped me, understood me, without them I wouldn’t be what I am today. So thank you beautiful-s, and Happy Women’s day to all.”
Nominated by Fatin Wasta.
My nomination is for my friend Sarah. Why? She's everything you could wish for in a friend. I love her because she really values friendship and will always make time for people despite her hectic lifestyle. I appreciate her honesty with me and the fact that she is not afraid to tell me how it is. She's someone I look up to and learn from every day both personally and professionally and I'm grateful to have such an incredible woman like her in my life.
Nominated by Alison Morfitt (General Counsel)
Ruth Sandya Rodrigues
One of the major influencers in my life is my mum, it always amazes me how she manages stakeholders from multinational corporates to governments. She finds opportunities in various issues in the State. As the Director of American chambers of Commerce, she has helped in shaping the Healthcare and Technology sectors in Telangana.
She is an inspiration to me in a lot of ways, one that stands out is her work in a nonprofit org Flatfish Networks. These are just a few to mention but I wouldn’t have been the same without her guidance. Kudos to great MOM’S and WOMEN with courage!!!
Nominated by Elvis Rodrigues.
My mother is a close friend of mine and my guru. All my life she is the person who has faith in me with whatever the decision I have taken at any point of my life. One thing she helped me most is she use to narrate situations of real life during my childhood to make me understand how real world works.
Nominated by Bharat Devisetti.
She was my team's scrum master in the first company I joined. She is an experienced coder, manager, honest, hard working, smart and mother of 2 kids. Looking at her I was always amazed how she handled everything very smoothly both professional and personal life. I have learnt a lot from her. One best thing was 'Power of Questioning' though relevant ones. Second is do best at what is given to you and then ask for what you want to do.
Nominated by Bharat Devisetti.
One of my friend who has always surprised me. She was junior in my college. She wanted to be an IPS, initially it was very tough for her to come out of house and adjust with food and stay alone because of her health issues. After few attempts she first cleared SI and went for training then cleared and joined as Assistant commissioner of labour. Her next plan is DSP still chasing her dreams. She surprises me how a not so healthy girl because of will power is now in police department.
Nominated by Bharat Devisetti.
Navya Vani Devisetti
My sister just one year younger to me. One I have always quarrelled and taken care. I still remember how she use to be least bothered about studies though she is fun loving person & busy in her own thoughts. She was never took anything seriously. Then somehow from +2 she started doing great, got good grades in graduation, got job in Infosys. Finally in career she wanted and now working as BI consultant. She is married now and gives me advice on many things. More worried & always taken good care of our parents when needed. She makes me feel proud. One more person who always thinks I will do wonders in my life.
Nominated by Bharat Devisetti.
There's rarely if ever a time that I'll come away from speaking to my friend and colleague, Emily Hewitson, without learning or considering something new or in a new way. Way more than simply being great at her job, Emily has a compelling and unique way of looking at things and is able to apply it to any and every situation. It transcends beyond an ability to give great advice or input, and more closely represents an ability to influence how people think for the better. I'm much better off for being her mate and I massively appreciate the selfless desire she shows to improve more than just herself that she demonstrates every day.
Nominated by Dale Jones.
My Mother is the strongest women in the world.
The struggles my mother faced for raising us for what we are now. It is harder to explain. For example my father use to work as welder from there to Government Employee. Making a lazy person (like me and my dad) into successful employee. It was hard to do at old days.
I use to get bullied a lot at childhood. My mother use to scold too but she also taught me how to stand before someone without fear.
Quote by my mother - Respecting elders is not important. Respecting everyone is important Any hard decision in my life - First person to ask suggestion is my mother because mother's always provide negative feedback first. So, it will cover negative things about that decision then they will start pointing positive one by one. CRAZY but TRUTH
One more thing I learned from my mother is if your not doing well in job or anything asking for help or feedback doesn't make you small. Helping others and taking help from others is growing.
Nominated by Waseem Raja.
Varalakshmi Vemaraju, my mother, has been a constant source of inspiration and support in my life. She is very kind and caring, and I have learned a lot about being a better person from her. Being someone who has completed two Master's degrees while working full time and having two young kids, she is someone I look up to for inspiration when I am trying to push myself to work harder in my career.
Nominated by Srikanth Vermaraju.
Bhavani and Tejaswi Kakinada
Most people have someone that has made an important impact on their life. But two people close to me have had an important impact on mine. Those are my Mother (Bhavani) and Sister (Tejaswi). My father is an army person so my mother took all the responsibilities at home, and I learnt so many things from her. She makes us strong, both mentally and physically and sometimes she played a father role too (which was hard in those days) because most of the time, he was not with us, meaning she’d have to handle many situations singlehandedly. Coming to my sister, she is so practical I can’t help but learn things like how to handle situations out of my control and how to behave with others - moreover, she is like my second mother. I look up to these ladies as my inspiration whenever I’m stuck in hard situations both personally and professionally - thanks for the opportunity to recognise them.
Nominated by Sandhya Kakinada
Congratulations to all who included in our class of 2019, but more importantly thank you!