Despite decades of progress in gender equality, women's contribution to innovation does tend to get overlooked. Hence, it’s important to share stories of female role models and showcase the ingenuity, determination, and creativity that women bring to their work every day. These stories will inspire more girls to explore careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
As we celebrate Women’s History Month in March, let’s spotlight 4 women innovators—3 Amazonians and 1 entrepreneur partnering Amazon—and learn how they are innovating at scale every day.
1. Rising through the ranks
Gitanjali Bhutani, Director, Worldwide (WW) Pricing, Amazon India.
Gitanjali has been leading a team of engineers, scientists, and business teams to drive innovation and automation to enhance customer experience. With eight years of experience at Amazon India, Gitanjali has built algorithms, machine-learning models, and novel approaches to solving extremely complex problems. Her team’s work provides customers access to great prices for products. For Gitanjali, every change that she made, no matter how small, has enabled customers to derive more value.
Amazon truly helped me achieve everything I had hoped for when I became an engineer.
During her journey at Amazon, Gitanjali has felt profoundly empowered. Her leaders have shown immense faith in her abilities, allowing her to take on challenges and devise solutions in her own, unique way. Progressing in the company from SDE-2 to a manager to now a director, Gitanjali has witnessed the tremendous impact of her work on the company and its customers. "Amazon truly helped me achieve everything I had hoped for when I became an engineer," she said. "I have had the opportunity to work on cutting-edge technology and like every engineer, I aspired to make a difference in the world. Amazon gave me the opportunity to do just that!”
The greater the challenge, the more determined Gitanjali is to overcome it. With her leadership and innovative mindset, Gitanjali is leading by example and paving the way for other women to follow.
2. The director who mentors and runs marathons
Vaishali Kasture, Director and Head of Enterprise Business, India and South Asia, Amazon Web Services
With more than 25 years of experience in corporate and investment banking, credit, analytics outsourcing, and consulting, Vaishali believes that women in tech are integral to building a $5 trillion Indian economy. As a leader, Vaishali set up the Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) business segment for AWS India in 2019, and hired the team that has scaled this significantly. Vaishali has also scripted five key India growth accelerator programs to unlock non-linear revenue for the enterprise business in India. These initiatives help enterprise customers help achieve scale and impact across industries.
“At AWS, I have been given the opportunity to run a variety of business and learn something new every single day. This is only possible when you have a culture of learning and empowerment and you are allowed to learn from your mistakes. I have seen first-hand how AWS strives to be Earth’s Best Employer and is working to enable a workplace where employees from diverse backgrounds feel a strong sense of belonging and can thrive,” said Vaishali. Beyond work, Vaishali is an avid runner. She is among the first few Indian women to qualify for and run the Boston Marathon and complete six world major marathons.
Vaishali counts women empowerment as a major area of passion for her. She has set up a not-for-profit “India Amateur Runners Trust” to financially support runners from weaker sections of the society. Vaishali is also the cofounder of SonderConnect – a non-profit mentoring platform for female founders. SonderConnect has mentored over 150 female founders over the last seven years. “I believe, as a woman, it is important to find ways in which we can give back to the society. I have had the privilege of being mentored and guided by both men and women who believed in me and I am grateful to have the opportunity pay it forward” said Vaishali.
3. The power of passion and focus
Shatarupa Kishore, Senior Manager – Projects, Amazon India
Shatarupa work with the Real Estate & Ops Engineering team at Amazon India. She has been instrumental in setting up strategic connections with other geographies to foster synergistic ways of working and knowledge-sharing practices. In her past roles, she was involved in designing and building pharmaceutical and petrochemical projects. Reflecting on her tenure at Amazon, Shatarupa says, “Working at Amazon has taught me that there is no constraint that we can’t overcome with sheer passion, focus and the right approach.” This is a powerful message, one that highlights the importance of perseverance when it comes to achieving our goals. Shatarupa highlights in her journey is the power of gender neutrality at the workplace. She emphasises how Amazon's inclusive and flexible environment has helped her and other women to grow and nurture their career while looking after their families.
4. Making deliberate choices as a founder
Rahee Ambani, Founder, TERRAVITA
TERRAVITA is a start-up focused on plant-based vitamins, wellness and sustainable health products. With 60% of her employees are women. The start-up is part of the Amazon Saheli program, an initiative by Amazon India to bring to the fore locally created products by women entrepreneurs. Through Amazon's Saheli program, Rahee received personalised training and one-on-one work support from an account manager, leading to consistent month-on-month growth for her business.
If you are good, you will succeed, though it can sometimes take years before you are proud of where you are.
For Rahee, an alumnus of the London School of Economics and Political Science, staying true to her mission is crucial. She believes that entrepreneurs, regardless of gender, must develop products that solve consumer problems. Speaking about her journey so far, she said, "If you are good, you will succeed, though it can sometimes take years before you are proud of where you are. I think as female entrepreneurs we tend to question ourselves and our decisions more frequently. But that has helped me make more deliberate choices and ultimately run a more successful business."