Fostering Diverse in Tech Leadership: Strategies for Work-Life Balance & More

By: Trissa Joseph, Vice President R&D, Everest Industries Limited

Dr. Trissa Joseph is an accomplished R&D leader and innovator in technology, new product development, and business strategy. With a career spanning over 25 years, she has led R&D organizations in India, the USA, and Angola, driving innovative work in oil-field chemicals and exploration, water treatment, construction materials, and industrial cleaning and detergents. She has several patents to her name and has been awarded fellowships and scholarships. She has also contributed to numerous technical publications.

In a recent conversation with Women Entrepreneurs Review Magazine, Trissa shares her approach to balancing professional and personal life, leveraging technology for flexible work, and strategies for remote team inclusion. She emphasizes promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion, and actively challenging biases to foster a supportive work environment for all employees.

In your experience as a woman leader in technology, how do you navigate and balance the demands of your professional role with your personal life? Can you share some strategies or practices that have been particularly effective for you in achieving work-life integration?

Women leaders in technology before us have paved the way for growth and opportunities in this field. While achieving work-life integration can be challenging for women leaders, it is essential to make a concerted effort. A supportive family structure is crucial in this regard. Even in absence of the same, setting up processes and support systems for your convenience and well-being is key.

I strive to achieve work-life integration through several strategies. For example, I prioritize effective time management by mentally creating a detailed weekly schedule that balances work commitments and personal time. This allows me to focus on high-impact tasks during peak productivity hours while ensuring I have quality time with my family.

Additionally, I advocate for a culture of support and flexibility within my team, by creating an environment where employees can achieve their own work-life balance.

Ultimately, it's about setting boundaries, being mindful of my well-being, and fostering a supportive network both at home and at work.

How can leaders leverage technology to support flexible work arrangements and remote collaboration within their team? What strategies do you employ to ensure that remote team members feel connected and included in decision-making processes?

During the pandemic, my approach was to leverage technology to stay connected and productive. Multiple digital tools and communication platforms enabled me to collaborate efficiently with my team, even when working remotely. These tools allowed me to hold regular virtual meetings and check-ins, share updates in real-time, and track progress, ensuring everyone remained aligned with the goals and deadlines. This flexibility helped me maintain a seamless integration between professional and personal responsibilities, while achieving ambitious business targets.

How do professionals approach the challenge of building and nurturing diverse and inclusive teams, and what steps should they take to ensure that all team members feel empowered to contribute their unique perspectives and ideas?

This topic is close to my heart as I strongly believe that diverse voices and opinions lead to the most effective solutions, products, and services. Building and nurturing diverse and inclusive teams is essential for fostering innovation and growth. First, it's crucial to hire individuals from varied backgrounds, encompassing gender, age, education, technical skills, and physical abilities. This ensures a broad range of perspectives and experiences are represented within the team. Strategies must be implemented to give everyone a platform to speak up and share their ideas. This can be achieved through inclusive meeting structures where each team member is encouraged to contribute, as well as through digital tools that facilitate idea-sharing and collaboration. I try to model inclusive behavior, listen actively and overcome my own unconscious bias. Ultimately, every member should feel empowered to contribute their unique perspectives and ideas. This empowerment not only enhances team performance but also drives innovation and business success.

In today's fast-paced tech landscape, agility is crucial for success. How do leaders foster a culture of adaptability and resilience within their team, particularly in the face of technological disruptions or market changes?

First and foremost, being open to change is crucial. Embracing change as a constant factor in my industry sets the foundation for agility. I encourage my team to view change not as a threat but as an opportunity. Once there is openness to change, resilience and perseverance become critical. Continuous learning is also key. Whether you learn from your seniors or peers, attend training sessions, workshops, and access to online learning resources, just get into this habit. I allow my team to learn from failures and errors as well. There is a sort of collective resilience, which encourages teamwork, mutual respect, and a shared sense of purpose helps the team stay united and focused, even in challenging times.

Effective communication is essential for leadership, especially in technical roles. How do leaders ensure clear and open communication channels within their team, particularly considering diverse perspectives and potential language or cultural barriers?

In my industry, I work with individuals from various strata, language backgrounds, and cultures. To keep everyone aligned to the common goal, respectful communication is paramount. Clear, straightforward communications and checking in to ensure it is understood well enough never fails.

How do you advocate for and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion within the industry, and what steps do you take to challenge biases and promote a more equitable and supportive work environment for all employees, regardless of gender or background?

As a leader in the tech industry with a background in R&D, I recognize and value the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) not just in my personal life but also my peers.

Whenever possible, I actively participate in and support mentorship programs that connect junior employees with senior leaders to provide guidance, career advice, and support to employees from underrepresented groups. As leaders, we set measurable goals and regularly review our progress as DEI is a key performance indicator for our leadership team. Our ability to innovate and succeed in a competitive industry is also impacted by how many diverse perspectives and ideas we are able to create, review and execute on. We form cross-functional teams that bring together individuals from different departments and backgrounds. For example, our recent product development project included members from R&D, marketing, and customer support, which led to a more comprehensive and user-friendly solution. Our innovation labs, town halls, and open forums cultivate an environment that embraces and values diverse perspectives, recognizing their impact not only on our end products and customer satisfaction but also on the empowerment and success of individual groups within our organization.