This is the second in a series of interviews with women who work in tech at Prudential: what they do, how they got there, and their words of wisdom for anyone interested in pursuing a career in technology.
Suchi Upadhyayula fell in love with computers in high school. Back then she couldn’t predict the exciting path her career would take or how rewarding it would be. As the Chief Technology Officer in the Customer Office at Prudential, Upadhyayula satisfies her passion for cutting-edge technology and problem solving while helping consumers organize their financial lives.
In this Q&A with The Muse, she shares why diversity is especially important in tech and how other women can thrive in a field still dominated by men.
What do you do in your position?
In my role I manage multiple functions, and the work that my teams do is foundational: unlocking business capabilities that we want to bring to market to benefit customers. That includes site reliability, production operations, data technology, platform engineering. and developing software.
When a customer logs onto Prudential.com, we’re interacting with them to understand what their goals are and help them plan, whether that’s looking at their overall financial goals, funding their children’s education, or their plans to retire. We offer solutions from which they can choose, including connecting with a Prudential agent.
What is it like to work at Prudential?
Prudential is undergoing a massive digital transformation, and just being part of the change to bring platforms to market and to transform our old technologies to new technologies is exciting. It’s a great time and place to be a technologist.
How did you come to work in tech?
I’m an engineer by training, and grew up loving STEM. I got introduced to computers in high school, and I haven’t looked back since. I’ve been very fortunate in my career to have worked with some of the best and brightest in the industry, not just at Prudential but also at Oracle and Intuit, two other companies where I built my career.
What attracted you to working at Prudential in particular?
There have been lots of huge technology advances in the past five to 10 years, whether it be mobile or big data or cloud or AI. But when you look at solutions people have to lead better financial lives, the space is still largely underserved. There are still many unsolved problems. Prudential is a great place to be if you want to take on some of those big problems and tackle them. We are creating tools to help people lead healthy financial lives that are stress free. That’s very satisfying!
What advice would you offer to other women in tech?
Stay curious. Stay hungry. Learn. Technology changes rapidly. Make sure you build a good peer group: Surround yourself with people who are also curious about learning. Have a mentor, and be a mentor yourself. There are many opportunities today online to continue your learning, so take advantage of those.
I’m fortunate to work among other women in tech at Prudential. I’m always looking out for more women in tech, and having a strong pipeline, starting from colleges even. Some of the biggest functions in tech, whether it be production operations or data technology or platforms, traditionally you don’t see a lot of female engineers in those spaces, and I would love to see more.
Why is it so important to have more women working in tech?
I truly believe that to drive innovation we need diversity of thought, which means diversity of skills and backgrounds. Working in tech at Prudential, specifically, we women have a lot to offer, especially with a customer-facing platform: After all, a lot of the financial planning and decision-making in households is done by women. Having strong women who want to make an impact across all functions only helps us to further drive innovation.
Do you have a good work-life balance?
Yes. I have two lifetime projects: two boys, 20 and 15. And I have a husband who’s been super supportive, and I have a great mentor who’s helped me with some of my career challenges. I’ve been blessed I’ve been able to balance everything. I think if you pace yourself, it is possible.