People & Leadership

Women in technology — Shivani Govil

This year, we’ve kicked off a Women in Technology blog series focusing on some fantastic women in leadership roles here at the Sage Intacct office of Sage. These women come from all walks of life, and are mentors, moms, bosses, and even beekeepers. Their stories and wisdom inspired me, and I trust you’ll find the same.

This profile is with Shivani Govil, EVP of Emerging Technologies and Ecosystem for Sage. Here’s what she had to share:

Brittany Benson: Hi Shivani, thank you for joining me today. Could you tell me about your role with Sage?

Shivani Govil:  My team looks after Sage’s emerging tech, product ecosystem, and Service Fabric.

On the emerging tech side, we’re looking at new technologies and innovations that are happening in the market and asking ourselves how we bring that into the Sage product line. We also examine some of the applications of AI, machine learning, blockchain, and how that would apply in our different product areas. Our goal is to take advantage of the new emerging technologies to be able to deliver better experiences to our customers.

On the ecosystem side, we think about building and developing a strong ecosystem of developers and partners that can help us deliver a complete solution to the customer. How can we, together with  our ecosystem, enable our customers to get everything they need to run  their business and that works seamlessly together across the business.  As part of this, we are working on developer engagement, creating API’s, and then connecting in the right developers so that they can access the API’s and build.  We are also identifying strategic partnerships that we want where we either have either gaps in our portfolio or complementary spaces that we want to fill in.

Regarding the Service Fabric, my team is responsible for the strategy, product management, and program management of the different services we create that can be  used by product teams across Sage (including Sage Intacct).

Brittany: What did your career path look like to get here today?

Shivani: I am an engineer by background. I went to an engineering school in India, and I did my undergrad there, and then I got my masters at Princeton in New Jersey. Right after graduation, I went into management consulting and did a ton of work on business strategy. That helped me combine the discipline of engineering with business value. I became passionate about customer value and business.

I quickly realized that technology is phenomenal, and I love being at the edge and forefront of technology innovations. But by itself, it’s meaningless. It’s about how does that technology get applied to bring value to people. That’s what helped me hone in on what I want to do from a career perspective. That is what I’ve always been involved in: looking at how can you generate new opportunities and create new businesses through that intersection of customer value, technology skills and business models.

After consulting, I worked with two startups, then a mid-size business and then a large business (SAP), before joining Sage. In some ways, you can say that I have worked in companies of all sizes. From a functional perspective, I have held roles on both the product side and the sales side – allowing me to  understand a full perspective of what is needed to build a successful business.

Brittany: Can you tell me about a woman who has inspired you?

Shivani:. A woman who has personally  inspired me is Barbara Duganier, a partner in the consulting firm I worked at when I was early in my career. She inspired me by showing me that you should never limit yourself.

During  my  early career, I was very passionate about wanting to do something to impact the world. Coming from India, I wanted to give back to the country and contribute to the environmental policy and situation there. After working here for a few years, I decided that I would quit my job and go back to India and do something for the environment there.  Somehow Barbara found out. She came to me and said, “I really appreciate what you’re trying to do, and I respect that. But don’t quit. We will enable you to do that work through the Andersen team in India.”

Barbara arranged for me to work with the local Andersen office, who in turn got me access to work  directly with the environmental ministry in India. I was able to work right at the very top level to help shape policies and frameworks of how we could impact the environmental situation in India.

If I had attempted to achieve my dream on my own, I would have probably managed to do something meaningful, but might have only had a small impact. With Barbara’s help, I was able to make a much bigger impact. She showed me early in my career that if you define your dreams and your visions, people are there to help you achieve it – and make it even bigger.

Brittany: With women like Barbara advocating on your behalf when you were very young, what advice would you have for women early in their careers?

Shivani: The first thing I would say is to identify what you want and dream that you  can accomplish it. When you have a big vision, you can make things happen and there’s nobody stopping you other than yourself. Oftentimes we create our own limitations to what we can achieve. Life should be about  thriving – not just surviving.

The second thing I would advise is to create a network of support that allows you to succeed, both professionally and personally. That village of support is really important.  Whether it is your significant other, your family, your friends, your manager, your colleagues – there are countless people who help you along the way. And who you should be there for and support as well.

A third thing I would add is to be clear on your priorities. Life presents many opportunities with different choices and knowing what is important to you will help guide you on the choices you make. For example, as I reflect on my career, there have been times when I have had the pedal on the accelerator with my career, and times when I have taken my foot off the accelerator to focus on my family. Knowing my priorities helped me decide when to do what, and I have never regretted any decision.

Brittany: What do you think is the best part of your job?

Shivani: I love everything about what I do. I enjoy staying at the edge of technology and thinking about how that can apply to help improve what our customers and people do broadly. To me it’s a bigger mission than just solving the pain point for one customer. I also really enjoy working together with people  – whether it is colleagues, customers, or partners. Finally, being able to bring new ideas to life is what makes me so passionate and motivated.

Brittany: Do you have a vision for the future for you personally?

Shivani: I’d love to continue to do what I’m doing –  and expand to make it bigger and broader in terms of the scale and impact on the business. I want to continue to learn, experiment, and build new ways to deliver unique solutions to meet customer value.

I’d also like to do much more to improve the world. There is so much opportunity to apply technology to make a difference to people’s lives. For example, can we use technology like blockchain to enable fair trade practices or identify and eliminate slavery? Can we use AI to recognize and reduce environmental impact? How do we ensure we are using technology in an ethical manner? For example, by not amplifying the gender bias but helping to create a level playing field. There are so many areas where we can use technology to drive human impact.

I have been involved and on the boards of some nonprofits like the IIT Bombay Heritage Foundation and BUILD which try and combine these fields together.

My husband and I have two beautiful daughters (and a cute little dog!). As I look at my daughters growing up, I feel there’s so much promise and opportunity for the younger generation. They just need to reach out and grab it. One of my New Year’s resolutions this year was to engage much more actively in helping the younger generation. I’m excited to walk alongside this generation who have the opportunity to create and impact the world for years to come.

To check out the other blogs in Sage’s Women in Tech blog series, view:

Women in Technology — Carmen Cooper

Women in Technology — Stefanie Maragna

Women in Technology — Amy Platt

Women in Technology — Aravinda Gollapudi

Women in Technology — Meg Deering

Women in Technology – Wanda Pansky

Women in Technology — Nancy Sperry

Women in Technology — Tina Wang

Women in Technology — Susan Vincent