Women in Leadership is a blog series dedicated to highlighting influential women behind The Dude. In it, we'll explore topics like how they came to the tech space, lessons learned, what they're working on and where they see the industry going.
This month, meet Madhavi Sarabu, Director of User Experience.
Q: What was your experience like leading up to Dude Solutions? Had you worked in a tech environment before?
Before joining Dude Solutions, I worked for a variety of companies in the Triangle area. Most of these companies had a combination of hardware and software products. The challenge with software products that are dependent on hardware is that it takes a long time to see your vision come to life. What attracted me to Dude Solutions was the promise of seeing the changes in clients' hands faster.
Q: What is your official title at The Dude? What are the responsibilities of your role?
I am the Director of User Experience at The Dude. I lead a team of very talented User Experience designers. My responsibility is to move all Dude products into a bright future where our products are easy to use, beautiful and desirable. We want our clients to focus more time on their work and figuring out how they can use our software to make their lives better. Figuring out how to use our software should be the last thing they need to worry about.
Q: Do you consider yourself a leader at this company? What do you feel you bring to your role that inspires others to see you as a leader?
I do consider myself a leader at The Dude for introducing and championing usability and design. We made a lot of progress in this discipline in the last few years. User experience is the product. That’s what our clients interact with every day. I am very passionate about great design. Products that need manuals are broken. I strongly believe that. Knowing that we have very complex functionality in our products, it’s a great challenge to simplify the experience. I love doing that. The “Wow!” reaction from our clients is what we live for.
Q: What projects or goals are you working on or leading currently?
I am currently leading multiple modernization efforts. In order to continue being a leader in our space, we need to focus on ease of use and desirability of our products. We are continuously making changes to this effect. The Dude brand went through a great transformation during 2018. My focus currently is bringing all of our products under the new brand umbrella. Two to five years from now, we will dominate the markets we serve. We will be a strong leader in the industries we service with a tremendous amount of focus on the users and designing our products to fit their needs.
Q: What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishments or wins while at The Dude or in other tech-related ventures?
My biggest accomplishment is putting UX and Design at the center of the new products and features we build at Dude Solutions. Organizational change typically takes a lot of time. We are fortunate that we have great teams that work collaboratively regardless of the departments we work in. We are at the junction where design is taking off. We had some key wins for great design and usability in the last couple of years. It is shifting the perception of our products in the marketplace.
Q: What have been your challenges navigating being a leader in this industry?
User Experience and Design is a relatively new discipline for B2B products. This is a challenge in any industry. We are making a lot of progress in this area. We have a great leadership team that believes in the power of design. We have an exciting future ahead of us. The biggest challenge at this point is to modernize our products without affecting the daily workflow of millions of our users.
Q: Do you have any advice for other women carving out a space in the tech industry?
There are always challenges in any role. Whether you are a man or a woman. I never let that get me down. I have been told I’m very persistent. When I truly believe in something, I don’t give up. My advice for other women is to stand up for what you believe in. If you are truly passionate, you’ll find a way around the challenges of being a woman.
There are so many people who overcame a lot of extreme difficulties. Men and women. Being a woman is not a handicap. We shouldn’t treat it like it is. There are other countries in the world where women don’t have basic human rights. We are blessed that our country is very advanced in that respect. We need to take advantage of it.
Q: Where would you like to see the industry go?
I would like to see the industry grow to where our gender doesn’t limit our opportunities for growth. We made a lot of strides recently but we need to expedite it. As we see more female leaders in the companies, it becomes a norm rather than an exception. Together, we can be the change. There are only leaders. No men-leaders and women-leaders. That is how we get to the true meritocracy.
Q: How do you feel your leadership is helping drive the industry in a positive direction?
Seeing women in leadership roles makes it easy for our kids to believe that it is nothing out of the ordinary. Strong leaders are great role models for our sons and daughters. A company that has strong leaders that happen to be women makes the path easier for other women.