The DFW Alliance of Technology and Women held its 19th annual Executive Forum last week, urging attendees to “crack the courage code” and empower women in business. Afterward, DFW*ATW’s president, Shanthi Rajaram, spoke with Dallas Innovates about her takeaways from the event—and how being “comfortable with the unknown” helped her start her own entrepreneurship journey.
Rajaram is president and CEO of Frisco-based IT consulting firm Amazech Solutions. She launched the company in 2007, steering its growth to being a leader in smart cities expertise, applying analytics to field management, and workflow improvement.
The CEO, who is the first entrepreneur in her family, began her tech career at Infosys and IBM. She was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug while working in California and later moved to DFW while working remotely. Here, she found a business-friendly ecosystem and plenty of resources.
‘I started the company because I was a very good technologist,” says Rajaram. “I used to love coding.”
Today, the CEO says, “I don’t get to do that.” But as the CEO of a company she keeps her superpower in problem-solving front and center: “Bring it on, and we figure it out,” Rajaram says.
Rajaram’s company, Amazech Solutions, just turned 14 years old on November 1.
We talked with Rajaram about the recent DFW*ATW event. The CEO and the nonprofit organization want to move the needle in a positive direction for women in technology—and provide inspiration that can be catalytic.
She credits the speakers: “We get inspired. Keep remembering these things. We forget when we are busy. We go back to our normal life after some time—but keep repeating these things.”
Here are takeaways from our conversation with the CEO:
On the ability to ask for help:
“There are people who are good at asking for themselves, but they don’t step in and ask for others. Then, there are others who don’t ask for themselves but they are very comfortable asking for somebody else,” said Rajaram. She falls into the latter category.
“I am very fearless when I am asking for someone else. So as a leader, I have to step in and ask,” said Rajaram. “But as an entrepreneur running my own company, I see myself and my company as one entity and feel shy to ask for myself or my company.”
Rajaram added that making the ask is important: “Asking is your job. Don’t expect that you’re going to get everything, but if you don’t ask you don’t get it. You have to ask if you think it’s what you deserve.”
On persistence and determination:
Shanthi Rajaram’s husband describes her as “relentless.”
If Rajaram has an idea that she believes in, she has to go after it—and that’s why she’s relentless. “If I already have my mind made up, I’m going to do it,” she said. “Then I’ll go talk to my husband and he’ll give me a list of objections. I’ll go back and fine-tune my plan and make the plan foolproof.”
Once her mind is made up, she doesn’t drop it. “I’m taking his feedback, fine-tuning it and being flexible,” says Rajaram, “I’m thinking I’m working around him and he’s thinking that I’m just not giving up.”
On how the entrepreneur’s thoughts on innovation and entrepreneurship changed since she founded her company.
Rajaram says she didn’t really know what she was getting into when she started her entrepreneurship journey. She later discovered that her personality was well suited for the field, “I was very comfortable with the unknown. Every day was very different.”
That comfort with the unknown provided her with a solid foundation for solving unplanned problems.
“The challenges are different based on the phases of where a company is, but the challenges are always those that you don’t plan for,” said Rajaram. “Problems come at you and you figure out a way to fix it.”
Rajaram is also very effective in stressful situations. When everyone else is stressed out, she can easily navigate that situation. “For me, when the situation is stressful, that is when I can think very clearly,” she says.
On an “aha” moment:
One moment Rajaram reflected on was when speakers Aneesa Muthana and Indra Nooyi discussed interview attire. Muthana wears her hijab unapologetically, while Nooyi later decided she didn’t want to wear a saree to interviews because she wanted them to focus on her qualities, not her personal affairs. The two shared their differing views on cultural attire without taking offense to one another. That was an “aha” moment for Rajaram, she told us.
On Rajaram’s background:
The CEO holds an MBA from SMU’s Cox School of Business and graduated from the College of Engineering in Trivandrum, India.
She was honored with the 2021 Virtual Women Who STEAM Award by the Dallas chapter of Links Incorporated for her commitment to inspire and motivate young minority women to enter the STEAM fields and establish flourishing careers in them. She was also part of the 2020 honoree class for the Minority Business Leaders Award from the Dallas Business Journal.
On how DFW*ATW and events like its Executive Leadership Forum move the needle.
DFW*ATW has four or five different programs they are currently putting together to advance women and girls in tech fields. An event can bring attention to those programs, Rajaram explained. By drawing an audience through powerful speakers like Indra Nooyi, Aneesa Muthana, and Danyel Surrency Jones, technologists and community members can also learn about these programs.
“We had big dreams for this event,” said Rajaram. “We didn’t know whether it would happen or not, but this event gave us validation that it’s okay to dream even bigger.”
“If you dream big, and your heart is there, and you give it your full—I think somewhere the universe conspires to make it happen for you.”
Rajaram says new DFW*ATW programs will be launched in 2022. Learn more here.
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