Are STEM careers just for GEEKS?

Greetings Alumnae,

I hope your summer is off to a good start thus far.

This week, we welcome a guest speaker to the blog; Varsha Chawla, Meredith MBA graduate. Varsha proves you can combine a strong business background with STEM courses to create a well rounded career.

Varsha Chawla is a Sr Solutions Architect on the Customer Intelligence Global Enablement team. She currently covers almost all solutions in the Customer Intelligence solution suite and has extensive expertise in digital marketing. Prior to her current role, Varsha covered product management for SAS Digital Marketing, SAS BI Dashboard, and Mobile BI. She also worked as a Business Analyst in the Customer Intelligence Practice. Varsha’s background covers sales operations, market research, and account management in the memory products and retail industries. While managing nine product lines with their subsequent pricing models, business models, and product transitions, she worked with clients such as Dell, Best Buy, IBM, and HP. She has extensive experience in working with global sales and operation teams in AP and the Middle East. Varsha is an active social media / networking participant and frequently presents to MBA and other younger students on the topic.  Varsha holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science degree from Florida Atlantic University and also has an MBA degree from Meredith College. She is fluent in Dutch and English.

– Elizabeth Dove, ’84, President, Meredith College Alumnae Association



Are STEM careers just for GEEKS?

Varsha Chawla|JUNE 1, 2012

Imagine sitting in a classroom at a medium-size university, looking around at your peers and realizing that they all have something in common: their demographics. This is what it was like to go to college for me less than a decade ago. There was very little diversity in my computer science and math classes, but it never bothered me much. It was not until I started my career working at technology companies that I realized what the workplace is really like: diverse, fast paced and constantly changing.

Fast forward 10 years or so and you’ll find much more diversity in those classes that were previously only for real “geeks.” Those STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) classes are still not as diverse as many other college classes, but we’re slowly getting there as the interest in STEM careers is growing. And why shouldn’t it be? Technology is more accessible than ever. There are a plethora of online resources available for anything from building a mobile app to programming a robot. I recently ordered a Raspberry Pi to keep my own programming skills sharp. Technology really is omnipresent and it’s only getting more exciting.

Pursuing a STEM career was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. My work here at SAS mostly consists of translating our Customer Intelligence software into business value for both our internal and external customers. Although I do little purely technical work on a day to day basis, my STEM education has provided me with a solid foundation that has proven to be extremely helpful in tasks such as troubleshooting and explaining our software to non-technical people. In Customer Intelligence, it’s all about sending targeted messages and offers to the right people, when and where they matter. I love translating this into ROI for our customers as much as I love thinking about the technology behind it all. The latter sometimes brings me back to my computer science classes. The ones I hope that you’ll appreciate as much as I have.

There are a lot of opportunities to add diversity – outside of the university setting. One great way is by meeting other students and STEM-oriented adults at SAS Users Groups events. Check out this listing of 2012 US events and scholarship opportunities.

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