Her Story: Denisha Surjoodeen (QA Lead)

by Denisha Surjoodeen (QA Lead)

In honour of women’s month and in celebration of the strength demonstrated by the women of South Africa in 1956, we decided to put the spotlight on some of the women of Global Kinetic and asked them to share their stories and their advice to other women wanting to enter the tech industry.

How did you get started in tech?

I have always had a passion for electronics and technology since I was a little girl. I grew up as a tomboy and found it quite fascinating to break up my remote-control cars and then put them back together again.

I did not have any exposure to computers until my late teens. It was then I knew for sure that IT degree was what I wanted. I did not get accepted by the university of my choice, and so I resorted to studying towards a BCOM degree with specialization in Information Systems. During my studies, I decided to join the working world and found a job as a first-line support technician for a UK broadband company. I was the only female in a group of 20+ male support technicians and was expected to work 12-hour late-night shifts. Despite being the only female, I used the opportunity to learn as much as I could and discovered that troubleshooting technical problems came naturally to me.

After a few promotions along with a wealth of technical knowledge, I decided to take up an opportunity at a software testing consultancy. I was introduced to the interesting world of Quality Assurance and embraced the opportunity to dive deep into the software development scene. This direction in my career eventually brought me to Cape Town, which opened many doors, allowing me to gain experience in different sectors such SaaS and e-commerce. Today, I am responsible for leading Quality Assurance competencies on all projects and teams at Global Kinetic.

What were/are the challenges you face?

I guess I have been lucky in that in the past 12 years I have rarely had any issues due to my gender. That being said, there is one incident that has always stuck with me. A few years back when I just began my tech career, I was shortlisted for a promotion along with my male colleague. After a grueling interview process, I was successful. But it came with a price.

The hiring manager thought it would be entertaining to have me break the news to my colleague. I felt uncomfortable but at the time felt obligated to prove my strength. So, I finally plucked up the courage and delivered the news to my colleague. My manager then confessed that he in fact made provisions for two positions and promoted both of us. He lacked empathy and insight towards recognizing that his “playful/harmless” behavior is responsible for making a woman feel inappropriately uncomfortable. Unfortunately, some companies foster these types of behavior, or lack of sensitivity towards those that don’t fit a certain mould.

As uncomfortable as this was for me, I feel fortunate to have not experienced anything more extreme than that which other women tolerate daily. It’s unfortunate that in the tech industry, we as women need to work much harder than our male counterparts to get the recognition we deserve. There are also times when our hard work is not recognised.

What do you love about working in the tech industry?

I love that the nature of the tech industry is ever-changing, and it offers limitless opportunities to upskill in different areas. Because of this, it allows me to try out new things, experiment and become a better version of myself in terms of career growth.

Your advice to other women in the industry / girls wanting to join the industry
  • Try not to focus on being the only woman, or one of few as this will subconsciously limit you from breaking the boundaries and norms.
  • Always enjoy what you do, follow your passion, and never let anyone or anything stop you from achieving what you set out to do.
  • As a woman, you bring a different depth and distinctive qualities to your company. So always be your unique and authentic self.