Interview with Huma Abidi

huma abidi

Meet Huma Abidi, our speaker for the upcoming March 7, 2015 Movie Night & Discussion for Girls: Big Dream. Huma answers a few of our questions and gives us a chance to learn a little more about her. Huma is Engineering Manager at Intel Corp. She joined Intel in 1995 as Software Engineer, and has since worked in a variety of engineering, validation and management roles. For her work in the Software and Solutions Group, she received the prestigious Intel Achievement award and Intel Software Quality award twice. She holds B.S. (Hons) in Chemistry and M.S. in Computer Science from University of Massachusetts. She is passionate about girls’ education, and about women’s careers in science and technology. She serves on the Board of Directors at “ROSHNI”, a philanthropic organization that has trained over 12,000 underprivileged girls in India, enabling them to break the cycle of poverty, secure jobs, and pursue college educations. She is also co-founder of “Hinahuma Creations”, a boutique which designs modern fashion apparel based on traditional Indian designs. She is a mother of two. Her son is in college, studying Computer Engineering, and her daughter is a High School junior, taking AP courses in science and math.

1. Why does STEM matter? Why does it matter for girls?

Imagine growing up with no computer, no internet, no cell phones – like your previous generation did. If someone made a ridiculous claim, you couldn’t just Google it; you kind of had to believe them. Today we have entered the age of the internet of things. Technologies such as self driving cars, 3D printers, delivery drones, and space tourism are becoming possible because of advancements in STEM. American unemployment data shows that even when unemployment is high, large numbers of jobs are going unfilled and those are all STEM-related.

Why girls? Today, more and more girls and women are using technology, women buy 65% and influence 85% of all consumer electronics purchases, but few are playing a role in creating this technology – only 20% of software developers in Silicon Valley are women. In fact there is a decline in women pursuing sciences (women now receive only 18 percent of computer science degrees versus 38% in the 80’s).

2. What has made you successful as a software engineer and manager at Intel?

I have been fortunate to get guidance and support from some very smart people, who have taught me great many things.

I have a great network of people (both at work and in personal life) whom I can count on. I am never afraid to ask and I am also always willing to help others. I know my strengths and try to leverage them whenever possible. I also recognize when I need help or when to pass on a task to someone who is better at it.

I like to try out new things, whether it is a new gadget, a new app or a new technology. I am not afraid to adapt.

I am good at prioritizing and like to plan things at work and at home/social life.

Having a supportive husband and children make it all work.

3. If you could do your education again, what would you do differently?

I am happy not only did I study different subjects (pre-med, chemistry and computer science), I also received educations in both India and the U.S. It has made me appreciate different things.

I wouldn’t want to change that, but learning never ends, so I may go for an MBA.

4. What three to five things do you try to instill in your children so that they can live the most fulfilling life possible?

  • I tell my daughter and my son that nothing can replace hard work, as there aren’t many shortcuts in life.
  • You don’t need to be one dimensional; don’t be afraid to explore and embrace vastly different things. (My son is majoring in Computer Engineering with minor in Cinema Screen Writing.)
  • Be yourself; you are unique. Use it to your advantage.
  • Be kind and give people the benefit of the doubt, it will make life easy for you.
  • Your parents are probably the only people in the world who always want you to do better and be more successful than them; talk to them, listen to them – they are your biggest fans.

5. Do you travel much personally or for work? What types of places to you like to visit?

Yes, I travel for work to countries such as Israel, China, Russia. As a family, we love to explore and visit different parts of the world.

During work travel I learn a lot about people, their cultures and lifestyle as there is a lot of interaction with local people.

Family travel is more of tourism; we enjoy different cuisines, landmarks and scenic beauty.

I used to bring back a doll from each place I visited; my cabinet is now overflowing. There are so many places I have yet to see.

6. Do you have any favorite books that you can share with us?

  • Lean in – Sheryl Sandberg
  • The Confidence Code – Katty Kay, Claire Shipman
  • Thrive – Arianna Huffington
  • A Path Appears (and Half the Sky) – Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
  • Strengthsfinder – Tom Rath

We look forward to the upcoming Movie Night & Discussion for Girls: Big Dream with Huma on March 7, 2015. We hope you can join us!