Throughout my career, Iâve talked to hundreds of bold women in business, whether it was on my podcast All the Social Ladies or for my book, Work It. And while all of these women have achieved success in their own ways, theyâve all taken different steps to get there. Thereâs no single recipe for getting what you want. The only thing you can do is work it your way.
Most recently, I sat down with Anamita Guha to talk about how sheâs navigated her career journey as an emerging technology product leader, her work as an ambassador with the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the tips sheâd give to anyone who is new to working from home.
Name: Anamita Guha
Job: Global Lead of Product Management, IBM Quantum
Location: New York, New York
Carrie Kerpen: Tell me a bit about your story, your background, and how you landed in your current role at IBM.
Anamita Guha: Technology has always played a big role in my life. At age three, I was up and running on my own computer, and by age nine I was designing websites as a side hustle. Out of this early digital relationship, I developed, almost intrinsically, an understanding of the power technology has to connect people and change the world.
My first five birthdays were in five different places. I was born in India and my family immigrated to the United States when I was two, where I got my first exposure to computers. Over time, I became increasingly intrigued by peopleâand how they process information and make decisions. This led me to study the human brain and mind at the University of California, Berkeley, where I majored in Cognitive Science and built my own tech startup.
Now, at IBM, I am building new technologies like artificial intelligence and quantum computing to be more scalable, accessible, and useful.
Kerpen: You work on inclusive, ethical, and empathetic technology, especially in emerging areas like AI and quantum computing. Tell me more about this, and about how youâre combining empathy and technology.
Guha: What I love about working on quantum and AI is that we have the potential to unlock novel applications and discoveries. Because of this, I feel an immense responsibility to make sure we are not only being inclusive of all around the globe, but also building ethically and empathetically.
Technology is everywhere and itâs used by everyone. How should we be thinking about these digital experiences to make sure everyone feels represented? This is something I spend many cycles of thought on and have launched several related initiatives.
One of which is a program called âChatbots for Goodâ I launched a couple of years ago. The program not only taught young women how to program chatbots, but also how to create chatbots that pick up on emotional cues.
I encourage everyone, from my executives to my mentees, to think about the social and ethical implications of their work. By asking the right questions, we can build a better futureâtogether.
Kerpen: Tell me about the work you do as an IF/THEN ambassador with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
Guha: I am a AAAS IF/THEN Ambassador, and my goal is to help educate and inspire young girls to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). IF/THEN aims to activate a culture shift among young girls by providing them with women STEM role models. By placing women in STEM in visible places, girls can see that women can be in these sorts of roles. For example, I was featured in Marie Claire 2020, which shows that you can work in STEM and still be in a fashion magazine. The slogan is: âIf you can see it, then you can be it.â
Kerpen: I know youâve been working from home for quite some time, but how has the âwork from homeâ experience changed for you amidst this pandemic? And what are your top three tips for those of us who are new to the WFH lifestyle?
Guha: Before the pandemic, working from home felt like a âchoose your own adventureâ game: every day was different. Where in the world will I be working? Will I fly to a new location and meet with clients? Will it be at a local coffee shop near a middle school where I mentored young girls? Or will it be at my favorite coworking space, The Wing? Nowadays, every day is at my home.
For those of you new to the WFH lifestyle, here are my top 3 tips:
- Tip #1: Get up and move. Donât stay in bed every dayâmove somewhere else in your home. Also, ergonomics.
- Tip #2: Try something totally new and double down on your passion. I post on social media now and am writing more. (Follow me @anamitag.)
- Tip #3: Buy as many LEGO sets and puzzles as possible (if thatâs your jam)! So far Iâve done the Stranger Things house, Central Perk from Friends, the San Francisco Skyline, the Statue of Liberty, and over six puzzles.
Kerpen: Youâve talked about your obsession with how humans can form habits that help increase our baseline happiness. What are some of the habits youâve formed to increase your happiness?
Guha: Itâs trueâI am absolutely obsessed with human happiness and have experimented with many rituals to see what works best for me. My favorite is consciousness journaling, where I write out my thoughts as a stream of consciousness. I like it because I am able to tease out nuanced data points about my life (like how I am happier on days when I drink coffee, so thereâs no point in trying a caffeine cleanse). Another is intention setting. I set weekly intentions in three categories (personal, emotional, and professional) that help me find an anchor throughout the week.
Kerpen: What would you say is the biggest challenge youâve faced in your career?
Guha: Being continuously told that I canât do something, and having to push through that noise and stay motivatedâyouâd be surprised how often this has happened to me at different crossroads of my life. The number one thing that helped me get through this was leaning on my family, friends, and community to support meâfrom calls with âfrentorsâ (friends + mentors) to back and forths with group text chats. Never underestimate the power of a group text chat.
Kerpen: What advice would you give someone who wishes they had your job?
Guha: I would encourage everyone to take the initiative to learn more about deep tech topics like artificial intelligence and quantum computing. Along the way, identify individuals and collaborators to bounce off ideas with and to ask questions. Most importantly, be curious and experimentâthe best ideas are still out there.
Interested in connecting with Anamita and learning more about her endeavors? Follow her on social media at the links below!
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