The Technocrats: Sunandini Basu
Sunandini Basu makes the case for more women in the field of interaction design
Job Profile: Experience Design Lead, Adobe Systems
For someone who started just wanting to make people laugh, Sunandini “Soo” Basu’s come a long way. An experience design lead at Adobe, Sunandini graduated from NID with five years in animation under her belt. “I thought I’d do animation so I could make cute films and make people happy. I started working for a greeting card company and began working on their flash website.” Flash was just taking off, and this served as a great introduction into the field. But in a while Sunandini realized she needed more than on-the-job knowledge if she was going to work in the UI/UX field. She moved to Malmö in Sweden to do her masters in interaction design and returned to India to find herself in a field taking off in a big way. “Everyone wants to have designers in the core group.”
Your career seems to be a series of “right place, right now” moments. What were the key learnings in moving from field to field?
When I joined Adobe, we [designers] were not part of every product team. It’ a very engineering-led company. Though they make software for designers, every software did not have a designer on board. My manager worked hard to convince all the teams that they need designers, and not just to change font sizes and colours. He put us at a really good place where design has a seat at the table, alongside product strategy and engineering.
How would you describe your job today?
It’s interesting most of the time. We’re constantly looking to see what creative people could do with the technology and how we can be ready for the future so they have the tools when they need them.
Women’s participation used to be minimal, but it’s improving. I was lucky to have a boss who said let’s hire some women designers because they bring a certain nuance to the table. Also, empathy for the user comes easily to women. What we lack in tech in India is women in top management, but it will get better.
What are some of the biggest challenges for women in tech in India?
It’s a male-dominated field so there will be situations where you’re the only woman in the room. Sometimes you’re not included, because you’re the only woman in the room. I wouldn’t say I’ve managed to handle them but I’ve identified them at least. The second is managing your family and your career; it’s still very much a woman’s prerogative.