How and when did you decide to become an engineer?

Deepthi Jonnalagadda: The decision to become an engineer was not a single day decision. During my school days, when the topic of what you wanted to be when you grew up was discussed, I always said I wanted to be a pilot—but that changed during a summer break when I was sent to a coding camp for kids. It was there I learned how a simple HTML could develop a web page and about Bill Gates and the amazing things he did at Microsoft. That one month spiked my interest in becoming a computer engineer.

Deepti Barve: From an early age I enjoyed math and science. During my junior year in high school, I took an electronics class that introduced me to devices, electronic and integrated circuits, and programming. I enjoyed tinkering with the devices and being able to program them. That’s when I decided I wanted to pursue a career in computer engineering. After I earned my degree, my first job was as a software engineer at Veritas Software (now Symantec/Norton) via campus recruiting during my senior year of engineering. Campus recruiting was an interestingly rigorous process with multiple rounds of tests and interviews.

What brought you to UMB?

Deepthi Jonnalagadda: I had heard a lot about UMB from a close friend of mine about the amazing work culture the bank had and was looking for a place where every employee felt valued and heard. I can confidently say that being at UMB has been more amazing than what I ever could have imagined.

Deepti Barve: I have held different roles in my career journey from software engineer, scrum master, solutions architect to delivery manager overseeing software development and quality assurance teams. Due to rapid advancements in technology during this time, I got the opportunity to lead large technology transformation initiatives that migrated legacy systems to modern technology platforms. I joined the API/Service Integration team at UMB. I was excited about the role as it was related to API Economy and latest trends in the Fintech sector. The opportunity to be part of UMB’s digital transformation journey, a unique chance to grow my skills while exploring and learning new things is what brought me to UMB.

How is engineering in the financial industry different or unique?

Deepthi Jonnalagadda: The main difference I see is the security we follow and the standard workflows which are very tightknit compared to other industries.

What has been your best experience as an engineer?

Deepthi Jonnalagadda: Being part of successful projects and looking back at the websites I created with my team gives me great happiness.

Deepti Barve: My best experience as an engineer has been the journey itself. The opportunity to apply my engineering skills and contribute in diverse verticals like testing and assessment, financial investments, utilities, and the banking sector has been a rewarding experience full of learning and growth.

What advice do you have for a woman who might be considering a career in engineering?

Deepthi Jonnalagadda: Being an engineer is like having a powerful tool. You make difference in the community as well as your life in a positive way. Don’t be afraid to explore the multiple opportunities in this ever-growing industry and start with applying to internships at an early stage. Exposure to the real world gives you more information and ability to make decision on what path you want to choose.

Deepti Barve: Consider summer jobs or internships in the field of engineering early in your high school and college career. Hands-on experience will give you an opportunity to understand and explore what it is that interests you. A curious and creative mind and the willingness to learn new things will open several avenues in your professional journey. Hone your communication skills and remember that soft skills are as equally important as technical skills in engineering careers. Engineering is a rewarding career, but it certainly requires us to juggle a work-life balance and comes with its share of long hours. Meticulous planning and time management are key. Additionally, build your cohort with other working moms who encourage and support each other. Mentors and role models will play an important role in your professional journey.

Any other information or stories you’d like to share?

Deepti Barve: Along with technology, an important part of my life is Indian classical dance. I have been dancing this form for over 20 years and teach the dance to young girls. It may sound intriguing, but the dance form is based on fundamental mathematical principles that drive the numeric rhythm cycles. My interest in STEM allows me to teach the dance form by explaining the underlying mathematical concepts. When my students understand the connection between math and dance, I can see their eyes light up. I feel fortunate that I can instill confidence and stage presence in these future women leaders. Pursuing a hobby in performing arts while having a full-time career in technology is certainly possible. My students and I have performed at local events around Kansas City and at The Nelson-Atkins Art Museum.

A couple of years ago, I served as a mentor on the Mentor Makers program organized by the KC STEM Alliance. This program connects young women in high schools with professional women in the STEM community. Mentors get the chance to influence young minds, answer their questions and provide a social network that they need to explore a career in STEM.

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