DIACC is hosting a series of spotlights showcasing our amazing female DIACC members in the digital identity space, noting the importance of diversity. These spotlights will be regularly socialized through DIACC’s LinkedIn and Twitter channels as well as our monthly member newsletters.
If you’re a DIACC member and would like us to feature your spotlight, contact us today to learn more!
What has your career journey looked like?
I started out with an engineering degree and an MBA in Finance and Systems. Completed my Masters in Finance from London Business School on a British Council Chevening scholarship. Spent the time from 2002-2019 across 3 top-tier investment banks in London…then joined Onfido as a Machine Learning Research Intern!
It’s been a great journey so far – I had to unlearn and completely rewire my expertise. My current job is in Biometrics, I deal with documents, selfies and videos. Skills include computer vision, deep learning, Python and Tensorflow…everyday I come to work wide-eyed and eager to learn.
When you were 20 years old, what was your dream job and why?
I studied mechanical engineering in India. I was the only woman in a batch of 90, and there were no other women in the batch before or after mine! So you can say I trained for a career in STEM.
As a female leader, what has been the most significant barrier in your career?
When I started my career there was no concept of flexibility, work-from-home was a privilege, daily long commutes on packed London Underground trains was a given. I had to raise my daughter while doing an intense job… reliable, affordable and quality childcare definitely helps. As a woman of colour with an accent to match, and limited local knowledge, I of course faced unique issues early on in my career. I’ve also had the privilege of having some of the best bosses and managers one can ever have. So it kind of evens out.
How do you balance work and life responsibilities?
I don’t! As a working mom, some days are good, other days not so. Resilience and a long-term view go a long way. I’ve been blessed with a cracking set of colleagues in my current org and function (Onfido Research) – you may say they have my back.
How can more women be encouraged to pursue careers in the digital ID/tech space?
Get them to talk to me? We women tend to second guess ourselves a lot. Just having a go at things, without expectations, is key.
What are some strategies you have learned to help women achieve a more prominent role in their organizations?
It largely depends on the type of management and mentors on offer. There is no magic bullet. There is only so much “leaning in” women can do, if the organisation is not ready for it then those strategies can even backfire. The organisation needs to be ready to embrace women leaders, and mentor them to success.
What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?
There is already a subtle backlash I feel, against Diversity and Inclusion initiatives. We don’t want a set of “token women and minorities”, we need solid professionals who are mentored, given challenges and more importantly given space to fail and grow as much as their straight male colleagues.
What advice would you give to young women entering the field?
Don’t overthink! Just do it. You have one life. When you are seventy years old you don’t want to think what could’ve been. Take that shot, learn that skill, get past the challenge and rise to your true potential.
This is not empty advice – I gave myself this advice when I made a career change into Identity. Good luck!
Ananya Lahiri, Machine Learning Research – Applied Scientist at Onfido
Follow Ananya on and LinkedIn.