Ep 9: Shraddha Chaplot: Tech-Colored Glasses and the "Power of One"

The Divas took time at Cisco Headquarters in San Jose, California to sit down with engineer rockstar,  and curious lady, Shraddha Chaplot. She is truly a woman who sees the world through “tech-colored glasses,” constantly thinking about how things are made and how they can work to improve the quality of life.

“It started when I was three years old. My mother taught me my time tables and I could not stop taking things apart” Shraddha  says, as she shares the roots of her passion for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) fields. “I have always loved math. Math has been the language of the work that I do or the ideas that I have.”

Shraddha got her degree in Electrical Engineering with a focus in Machine Intelligence before joining Cisco. With the rise of the Internet of Everything (IoE), her specialty in machines is vital! The Internet of Things (IoT --- a subset of IoE)  is a euphemism for bringing things online that were not previously online. IoT is the use of data from all the things that can now “come online” to change the way people and processes interact. Bottom line, according to Shraddha, the crucial link between data and analysis can help improve our lives..

At Cisco, Shraddha has had the opportunity to work in many roles and use her innate ability to innovate. She began as a member of  the accessibility team to ensure that Cisco products are designed to be easy to use for people who are blind, deaf, or hard of hearing. Then, she moved to an energy efficiency and green standards team. She was part of the first EnergyStar test labs at Cisco and qualified over 20 products. Now, she is combining several of her passions with IoE in her new role. “I love doing everything possible! I am so curious. So at Cisco it has been amazing because I have had the opportunity to be an engineer, a researcher, program manager, a writer.”

“Any tech field lets you combine your personal passion with technology. That is what makes a great product and impacts people’s lives,” says Shraddha.Her newest projects experiment with IoE and the smart grid. This older technology presents great opportunities for reinvention to achieve significant efficiency and improvements. She uses GoPro as an example of reinventing the camera with the IoE experience.  “IoE will re-ignite industries that have plateaued,” she shares..

She has many good memories of former projects at Cisco, but is thoroughly enjoying her current role working with Raspberry Pi’s, which are robots, and sensors. Shraddha was part of a $100,000 research grant and was able to bring the first two deaf interns to Cisco. Many of her victories emanate from creating opportunities that were not easily visible, before.

Shraddha reminds us that “You don’t do what is the bare minimum. You never know what opportunities and possibilities can arise from going further.”

A natural introvert who has made personal strides in reaching out, Shraddha discusses how she came to some of her realizations and collaborations. “Sometimes people would not respond to me, so I would go sit in their cubes,” she laughs.

When IoE is linked to future opportunities, Shraddha makes it clear you can shift at any age into a “STEAM” career. There are now tools that help people learn more quickly, and many people like Shraddha are out there making technology “cool.”  Her arts orientation also makes any tech conversation with Shraddha mind opening. She emphasizes that IoE is really all around us and you can take any passion and apply it to IoE.

Shraddha also shares some words of personal career wisdom. “I don’t have an executive title. I don’t have people that report to me and I don’t have a budget.  I am an individual contributor, but I believe that as an individual contributor, you have so many possibilities,  and can still have a huge impact. In fact, this age marks the rise of the individual contributor.”

She encourages anyone not to let a title hold them back from being curious or seeing things through “tech-colored glasses.”  Always stay educated and realize no one knows everything.

“The most important thing is to have fun!” says Shraddha.

Shraddha reminds listeners that networking is so important. “It was something I had to learn immediately. I realized that my fear of meeting people was less important than the things I wanted to do.” She also recommends that people learn more about IoE and STEAM Fields by checking out tech conferences and tools online.

Shraddha is a perfect example of pushing yourself to learn as much as possible and just get out there in the world and give things a try. “If I fear it, I’ll try it. If I dread it, I will master it,” are her words to live by.

Shraddha’s final admonitions to our audience? “Be Curious. Have fun. Go Change the World. Anything is possible.”

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