Maha is a self-described “software engineer-slash-scrum master.” She transitioned from radio frequency engineering to software engineering in 2010 and has been with Terazo since there were only twelve employees. Maha is most proud of her recent scrum master certifications. Her favorite hobby is reading, but she also enjoys dancing, running, and exploring new places and things. She is a mom to a five-year-old son, who she says is her “everything.”
Maha is passionate about learning. She says, “In my opinion, I feel as a human being, nothing is impossible for you. If you really put your focus onto it, you can learn anything. Obviously, your education is really helpful. My education has been my foundation, because I did my engineering courses, my master’s degree, so that really helped me to learn faster. But these days you have so many resources. If you have a basic education, you can always come into whatever field that you want, because today’s generation and world is providing you with lots of items to learn.”
In Maha’s own educational journey, she received her bachelor’s degree in India, where she took several computer science courses. During that time, she became more interested in satellites and telecommunication than software engineering. After completing her bachelor’s degree, she became a radio frequency engineer and worked on initiating and laying 3G. She says she loved that work but decided to shift to software engineering to help achieve her goal of moving to the United States. Maha jokes that her feelings about the U.S. are similar to how Harry Potter felt going to Hogwarts—like he had finally found his “place.” And software engineering provided her the opportunity to make that move. She says it didn’t take long for her to come to love the work of software engineering itself.
Maha’s journey has not always been easy. Before coming to Terazo, as a young woman in the states, Maha found herself in a challenging workplace situation—pregnant and on a team with no other women, she constantly experienced putdowns to her intelligence from male teammates and management. She says this experience drowned her confidence in her own ability as a woman in software engineering. “It was horrible,” she says. “I had to fight for my right every single day and prove my own worth.”
Finally, she decided to quit. “I was like, ‘I can’t do this anymore.’ And I had to resign. At that time, I really wanted to focus as a mom because I felt, or at least I was made to feel like, ‘I cannot do this. I cannot do being a mom and a software engineer together.’” But Maha says that after a nine-month break to parent and recover, she slowly started to realize that “this is not me.” She says, “I was always an independent woman. I’m a strong woman, and I know that I can do it. That’s how I flew from a different country to here!”
After her break from engineering, Maha took a chance and applied for a job at Terazo (then APIVista). Although she was still very unsure of herself and her ability, she says she thought, “I’m just gonna do whatever I can, and let’s see.” Maha was hired on, and one thing she says has been consistent from the time she first started to now is the company’s culture. “I really want to stress this culture part because I was astonished by a few things,” she says.
In my opinion, I feel as a human being, nothing is impossible for you. If you really put your focus onto it, you can learn anything. If you have a basic education, you can always come into whatever field that you want, because today’s generation and world is providing you with lots of items to learn.
“After coming to Terazo, my perspective changed. And it’s about my confidence. I was so struggling, and my confidence level was so low. But the teammates, like every single teammate in Terazo so far I’ve worked with, everyone was really good, very supportive, very helpful, and very communicative. So, what happened is, with all these amazing individuals as my team members, the scary parts and the low confidence part started to build up, and I started slowly getting confidence. And then I was like, ‘I can do this. I can be a mom, and I can always be a software engineer. I can do these two full-time jobs.’”
Maha says her learning potential has improved since she’s had to manage the multiple responsibilities of being a single parent and learning new technologies for work. During the school year, her son is home after five o’clock, so she works hard to fit learning and work into the hours before that. “It’s been a challenge for me,” she says, “trying to manage work-life balance when you have to learn new things and then implement them, and when you have to fit that within the time of nine to five. I would say my learning potential has definitely improved a lot cause I’ll be like, ‘I have to do this right now!’ I have to learn on the go and do it.”
Terazo’s scheduling flexibility also helps Maha manage her work-life balance: “I’m able to actually manage my son’s education, his medical appointments, my medical appointments, and also my work schedule.” Maha says she lets teammates know when she needs to be out for an appointment, and then she makes up the time later. Clear communication, she says, is the key to making this work. “Terazo was always this way,” she says. “As long as you let your team know, and you guys just work it out, they’re flexible. So that has been very helpful.”
“In 2020, my world turned upside down, and Terazo was very supportive [of] me,” Maha added. “I got stuck in India for seven months, and things completely went crazy for me, but Terazo was always there as my biggest support. The big bosses always say that Terazo is like a family, and they were so true to their words. They were there as family and helped me come out of my situations. They supported me in India for seven months, and during that time, we were not even international. They supported me throughout my tough times. I can never thank [them] enough for what they have done, and they really care [about] their employees, and it’s so true in my case.”
Although Maha’s software engineering background was primarily in Java when she started at Terazo, she has since learned and progressed with Python, data engineering, and scrum master certifications. She says Golang is now her favorite language, and if she could choose, she would always use Golang. But she emphasizes that “As an engineer, I believe that we should have enough flexibility to jump in and learn different things. It’s always helpful for you to grow—not to just stick to only one single thing. And Terazo really helped me to find multiple opportunities based on my interests. Whenever I was like, ‘I want to do this’ or ‘I want to learn this,’ I always went and asked my supervisors, my manager, my leads, and they always addressed my needs and launched me into the right projects where I can grow myself.”
Now, Maha aspires to take on more leadership. She is a certified scrum master and helps lead teams in addition to her engineering activities. Although writing code still excites her, she says that she feels most challenged by and enthusiastic about helping teams and clients to understand, envision, and implement scrum and agile practices that will help them accomplish their goals efficiently, easily, and without feeling rushed. She enjoys getting to know how people work and then making agile work for the team rather than vice versa.
Maha is dedicated to supporting other women to have successful careers in tech. She is an active member of the Women at Terazo resource group and helps coordinate community speaking engagements with groups like Women Who Code. She says, “From all ages, we have been made to feel like maybe as a woman you have to just clean and do those things. And as an Indian woman, I have faced that a lot, even in my generation. It’s just a very basic thing that everyone has in their mind—that Asian women are very submissive. It’s not just in the software engineering world—it’s overall that way. They try to dominate you in many areas. So, I have had to stand up for myself on many occasions. And that’s the reason I really strongly encourage all the women who feel like software engineering is not their task. If I can do it with whatever background I have, then you can do it too. It’s possible!”
When asked about advice for others starting out in this field, Maha wants people to enthusiastically embrace learning without fear of failure. She says, “When you feel like you can’t do this, don’t ever resist to actually ask or learn. If you need time, ask for time. If you don’t know a thing, tell them that you don’t know this one. And it’s okay! Sometimes we have that fear of not asking the right questions. But even if the question is not right, that’s fine. The problem is not even asking the questions. So ask. Learn.”
Maha encourages others to take life as a learning journey: “Right now, you are just trying to explore whether you can do this or not,” she says. “Keep your mindset in that way. It’s like you are in this deep forest and trying to have this adventurous ride in front of you. So, try to see what kind of adventures you face! Take every challenge that you have as an adventure. Ride through that and explore it. Every experience is a learning experience. There is no negative. There is no “failure” things. Every experience is learning. And I always believe in this quote that ‘When I win, I win, and when I lose, I learn.’ As a big nerd, you might have so many questions: whether I can do this, whether I’m capable enough to do that. Just don’t question if you’re capable or not. Like, ride this, take a bus, ride through this and ask questions. You’re learning, so if you don’t get it, that’s fine! Every person has their own thing to do. That’s what I believe. Every person in this timeline that you will know. This is just your experience, so go for it, and learn.”
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