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Women Changing Technology: A Conversation with Sejal Kadakia from Trimble

Industrial technology has long been a male-dominated arena, but that's slowly changing thanks to a rising tide of women making their mark in the field. At Trimble, a diverse group of women are carving out their space and driving innovation forward. This Women’s History Month, we’re highlighting some of the women who help shape Trimble technologies and the future of how our world works. 

This Q&A features Sejal Kadakia, Vice President of Microsoft Partnership for Trimble Transportation. 

Tell us about your role at Trimble and how you got there.

My current role is the vice president for Microsoft Partnership for the transportation sector. My role involves developing and maintaining relationships with our Microsoft partners to drive mutual success. I've been here for 26 years and I've progressed from senior engineering to vice president with experience in both the technical and the business tracks.

This unique background allowed me to bridge the gap between technical and strategic business objectives. 

I collaborate with cross-functional teams to execute these initiatives, and then leverage my technical expertise to ensure they align with our capabilities and Microsoft’s objectives and offering.

What is your favorite part of your job? 

It's a combination of problem-solving and collaborating with colleagues. 

It's not just seeing the products that we worked on going to the market, but actually hearing the feedback from the customer or the users that are using it and how it's impacting them. To me, that’s a major inspiration because I want to see the things that we've developed are truly helping the customers. My end goal is to help the customer succeed. 

One project that I recently worked on was to bring Microsoft Azure OpenAI capabilities into our documentation. Currently, customers have to go to a Trimble Learn site, know exactly what they're asking for, and dig through the documentation to get the answer. We used the OpenAI large language model (LLM) algorithms to develop a chatbot so they can just ask a simple question and get an answer. We shared it with a customer, got their feedback, and they loved it. Now, we're trying to bring that out in the market. It's still in the beta phase.

What is the most challenging part of your job? 

Balancing competing priorities and tight deadlines. I want to make sure that we prioritize the right things to work on. There are a lot of good ideas and there are a lot of things that need to get done. But how do we prioritize it? That's a little bit of a challenge. In the end, it is about delivering on our commitments. 

What excites you the most about working at Trimble? 

Working with cross-functional and geographically diverse teams excites me. Knowing that all the teams have their eyes on the ball is a huge plus.

How has your approach to technology changed since you came to Trimble?

I started as a senior software engineer where my primary focus was technical solutions for our customers.  As I have progressed within Trimble, I get to focus on strategic partnerships along with upcoming technology stack to guide and lay the groundwork for our ongoing roadmap.  This is turn drives innovation and helps our customer gain efficiencies.

What did you want to be as a child? 

Honestly, I didn't have any specific career goals growing up.  Moving to US as a child, my main focus was adapting to my new environment.  Once that goal was met, I was fortunate enough to have good mentors who helped shape where I am today.  My education was geared towards technology and management.  With exposure to tools, I realized what we could do for our customers, internal and external.  That continues to drive me today.

What’s a professional goal you recently set for yourself?

I wanted to deepen my understanding of AI technology and see how we can leverage it to enhance our offering and better serve our customers. It is an ongoing process and I continue to learn different aspects of AI and how it can benefit us and the industry as a whole. 

What are your tips to ease anxiety and uncertainty when you take on something new at work? 

Baby steps! When I took this role, I was definitely anxious. My first task was to ask lots of questions. I then started to break things down into manageable pieces. This gave me quick wins and allowed me to juggle between tasks on hand and our ultimate goal.

Set realistic expectations.  We are our own worst critic. So, without setting realistic expectations, we will fall into a trap. Once the expectations are set, ask yourself what you need to succeed. Whether it is learning a new tool, a new industry or a new partnership. Communicate.

Whether this is asking for help or updating leadership on goals and timelines, effective communication goes a long way in smoothing out bumps on the road.

In the end, we all tend to get anxious about new roles and responsibilities, but what got me through is taking baby steps.

What is your favorite way to empower other women at Trimble?

Listen and mentor. There are so many talented women in our organization and the best way to help them is creating opportunities and allowing them to grow under the right mentorship. We are training the next generation of leaders who will in turn create the next. 

About the Author

Rachel is the Content Marketing Manager for Trimble Construction. She's written for finance, SaaS, manufacturing, telecom, and healthcare companies for 16 years. Writing about construction is her favorite gig yet.

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