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Home » Women in STEM » Empowering women to succeed in fast-paced tech careers

Sheila Gallagher

Sr Manager – Sales Operations EMEA, Xperi

Samira Pourkhajouei

Sr ML Engineer – Research & Development, Xperi

Two women share their experiences on what it means to join a global technology company that nurtures innovation and works with the newest technologies.

What inspired you into a STEM career?

Samira: I’ve loved maths and problem-solving since I was a child. That’s what led me to choose a career in STEM. Seeing how rapidly technology evolves and its impact on various industries motivated me to be a part of the STEM field. I started with Xperi as a PhD intern and have now become a full-time senior software engineer. It’s been a new experience to work in the industry, and I love it. I’m also studying for a second PhD in computer science.

What structures and networks should be available to empower women?

Sheila: Flexibility is important. I work remotely, for instance, which is a big benefit. Support networks and employee resource groups are also crucial. Being a member of our Women in Technology (WiT) network is a great way to be part of a diverse group that want to grow and develop their careers within the industry while creating opportunities to give back to their community.

Being part of this network gives you the ability to connect with people from various backgrounds and stages in their careers who can help empower you along your journey.  

How can being part of a network benefit women?

Sheila: At Xperi, we have an established global WiT network, and we are in the process of launching our local chapters in EMEA. I’m very fortunate to have become the Irish WiT Chair working alongside my colleague Sharon Cheevers (EMEA WiT Chair). 

I’m delighted to be a WiT ally as it allows so many great opportunities for the individual and Xperi (eg. mentoring, coaching, innovation talks, women’s health initiatives, etc.), but the main thing is providing an encouraging network of people who support each other and help others. We advocate to raise visibility of women and create an environment where women will be successful, and this is something I am happy to be promoting.

What is the value of internships — can they lead to employment?

Samira: Internships allow students to gain hands-on experience, build networks and showcase their abilities. My company values talent and recognises potential; any intern has equal opportunities to transition into full-time employment.

How can companies ensure they are diverse and inclusive?

Sheila: We have employee resource groups supporting the LGBTQIA+ community, Black employees and veterans, for instance — while mentoring and coaching opportunities help everybody grow.

Samira: Support from management is important. It is making decisions on the skill and potential of the person — it is all about support. My managers are supportive and actively encourage exploration of company opportunities. With that support, employees can do what they love.

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