In conversation with Influential BAME Leaders in Tech: Sukhi Jutla22/01/2020
Sukhi Jutla is COO of online marketplace MarketOrders and one of the Top 100 Most Influential BAME Leaders in Tech – as named in the Financial Times. We sat down with Sukhi to hear about her leadership journey, motivations for exploring entrepreneurship and why more women should press for a career in business.
Before becoming an entrepreneur, business founder and COO of MarketOrders, you started your career in banking and fintech. What motivated you to re-invest your skills and pursue entrepreneurship?
I got to a point in my career where I felt I just didn’t want to be working at a corporate 9-5 desk job. The work was not fulfilling or challenging me and I realised I wanted to do work where I could use my creativity to build solutions to real-life problems. It’s only in hindsight that I see my personality is very much entrepreneurial. I am always looking for new and innovative ways to do things and I thrive on building stuff and utilising all my skills. This is why became an “accidental” serial entrepreneur. Over the course of my corporate professional careers, I had started more than five companies – most of which I was pursuing and building during evenings and weekends!
The future belongs to those who can re-invent and re-apply their skills to generate new ideas. How did you use your background in technology and project management to develop a new business model?
In today’s world, I feel we have no choice but to become multi-skilled. The good news is that we are actually born with multiple skills and talents, but we are typically forced to specialise in one area so we lose the other skills.
Now that I am a technology entrepreneur, I can see how my banking and project management background has helped me to get to this point. Financial systems are run by tech processes and I learnt how to build and understand technical processes that facilitated the flow of financial information.
My project management background helps me in the day-to-day running and managing of my own business. However, I am not a coder or programmer so I deliberately upskilled myself to learn the new skills I needed. This is why in 2018 I retrained and qualified as an IBM blockchain foundation developer so that I could better understand how to leverage blockchain opportunities in my business model.
For someone entering today’s highly dynamic world of work, change is inevitable. What is one piece of advice you would give to new generations looking to navigate our increasingly complex working world?
Be open and follow your interests and curiosity. You may not know where that particular skill may lead you, but you need to trust that if you enjoy learning about something, you will become good at it. Life is only worth living if you are ultimately spending your most precious resource (your time) in a way that inspires and fulfils you. I wish I’d had the courage to start my entrepreneurial journey sooner but fell into banking as I thought it was the ‘sensible’ thing to do.
In your experience, have you noticed any trends in industry that may prevent women from achieving a leadership position?
I do believe the tech industry is a unique field where what you create and build is more important than who you are. In this sense, tech has the ability to transcend many barriers and provides opportunities to generate enormous wealth for those who can build products the world needs.
What I feel is needed is for the tech industry to showcase the variety of different roles the industry has to offer as most people seem to think that if they are not programmers, there is no space for them. Building technology requires a variety of different skills, from arts to data analysis, and these are all fields women excel in. Nobody should be afraid of building their own tech company or working for one.
What is one piece of advice you have for women aiming to achieve high-level leadership roles?
Be bold, fearless and own your success!
What is your definition of success and has this definition evolved for you over the years?
When I left university, success meant working for a huge international bank and making lots of money! I achieved this but didn’t feel successful, in fact, I was miserable! Today, success means waking up every day and spending my time working on things that matter to me and working with people I like and want to be around. Success for me is ultimately the freedom to live your life the way you want.
Inspired by Sukhi’s story? Are you also stuck in a job that isn’t fulfilling or challenging? Take the leap into tech.