How Life Lessons Became a Career Path
The catalyst for her journey was the gender imbalance in her home town of New Delhi. Infanticide and feticide are a serious issue for women and girls in India because of gendered customs and traditions, although she was lucky to have loving parents who supported Bhatnagar and her sister. Despite their support, she still encountered a number of obstacles on her way to becoming a successful tech executive in the United States. However, she refused to give up on her beliefs and instead used her moral convictions to guide her career. Just out of high school, Bhatnagar founded a startup that used technology to help reduce the number of gender-based abortions, a business that was later acquired by the Indian government.
She moved to the United States to continue her education and, focusing on computer programming and technology, found that she was still contending with the same old gender biases. She has no illusions about how her identity impacts the obstacles she faces in her career. “I’m an immigrant,” she says. “I’m brown. I’m a woman. I’m in a chief level position. I have once been asked to my face if our company was so desperate to hire coders that they hired a woman.” Yet in the face of adversity, Bhatnagar remains strong, and supplements her own strength with an admirable network of supportive friends and family.
Staying Strong and Finding Support Where it Counts
After starting her newest company, she and her longtime friend, co-founder and CEO Guarav Bhattacharya, were approached by a high-profile client who subsequently began to pressure them to drop their support of the #MeToo movement, citing ideological differences. As a woman fighting her way to the top of a male-dominated industry, this blow felt personal to Bhatnagar. It was the typical moment when an executive must decide between their ethics and their bank account, even the success of their company. “But Gaurav looked at me and said, ‘no, you’re my friend, and you’re sitting right here. I’m not turning my back on you,” she said.
Rising to the Challenge
Relationships like these and her personal experiences succeeding in spite of adversity taught Bhatnagar the power of camaraderie and ethical leadership in a corporate setting. It’s a lesson she’s used to empower her company and, through its work, the communities they work with. She shows companies the power of demonstrating moral values in the workplace and fostering employee engagement by connecting them with meaningful volunteering activities in their own communities.