How Giving Back Helps Audible's Anshika Priyadarshee Push Her Industry Forward
Anshika Priyadarshee knows how to make anywhere feel like home. She grew up living in India, Kenya, and Canada before moving to New York for a job with Audible, where she now works as a Senior Software Engineering Manager.
"It's probably the longest I've spent in one place," says Anshika of the six years she's been living in the city and working from Audible's Newark headquarters. "It's been a nice way to get to know what is a pretty beautiful city."
Anshika started her career journey at Audible through their internship program, and she's long been an advocate of educational opportunities for women interested in engineering. At Audible, she participates in their Impact Group for Women in Tech and hosts field trips for organizations like Girls Who Code.
We sat down with Anshika to hear more about her work, why it's important for tech companies to reflect the diversity of their users, and how she works to make that possible.
Making tech for real people
As a software engineer, Anshika enjoys writing code that brings a new feature or product alive. But what she's come to love even more is the opportunity to see how her work impacts Audible users.
"A really big piece of fulfillment for me is seeing customer feedback," she says. "Recently, we launched a new type of product offering, something my team has been super involved in, and it was so exciting to go on Reddit and see the reactions of people who were really excited to use our product."
Anshika knows that in order to create products that work for everyone, tech workforces need to include people from different backgrounds and with different experiences. "Tech is influential. Depending on who's participating, it can shape how the future generations see things," she explains. "It's important to have that representation because if you don't, you have a whole segment of the population that gets left behind. You want to address the needs of each group," she says, highlighting how employee resource groups, called Impact Groups at Audible, such as Women in Tech, which she's a member of, as well as others like AudiblePRIDE, Unidos@Audible, Women@Audible, Moms@Audible, and the Black Employee Network provide vital perspective on Audible projects.
Bringing in the next generation
When Anshika first started her career, she had a preconception that computer science was something dry. "Once I got into it, I recognized there's actually so much more you can do with it. There's an element of creativity that wasn't necessarily conveyed," she says.
That's part of what inspired Anshika to get so involved with Audible Cares, her company's community giving efforts, and to lead specific projects through the Women in Tech Impact Group like field trips with Girls Who Code. "I'm hopefully changing the dialogue on what CS means to everyone else," she says.
As part of those community service initiatives, Anshika and other engineers at Audible mentor young women interested in tech, encourage their studies, provide advice, and give them a glimpse into different career paths. Anshika and her team participate in panels, where they talk about topics like building a spirit of resiliency, recognizing the power of failure, and building careers that work for them. "It's pretty impactful, especially meeting students who are a bit closer to making their decisions for which careers they want and being able to take part in their journey," says Anshika. They also host workshops for students to experience hands on code writing in a terminal while working from a set of prompts.
In pre-pandemic times, the field trips also included a tour of the Audible Studios where the magic happens. "It's pretty exciting for them to see how we actually go from book to voice experience," says Anshika, whose personal favorite listen is When Breath Becomes Air by Dr. Paul Kalanithi.
But despite the pandemic, Anshika continues to make connections with the next generation and encourage their dreams. "A different type of barrier has gone down because we don't need that physical presence, so it opens up the door for a lot of other people to participate," she says. She's hosted virtual workshops and partnered with college students as they consider careers in tech. "Ideally, [we'd] give everyone exposure to it," she says.
"Giving back is good for the future of tech," says Anshika, and it's also good for Audible as a company and its employee satisfaction and retention. She really appreciates how the opportunities she's had to participate in community involvement and community service have enhanced her career. "It's been a great way to meet people [at Audible] I wouldn't have normally connected with if I just stayed within the scope of my team," she says. "Whether it's meeting with principal engineers in Seattle to get their ideas on effective workshops or working with our executive sponsors to get input on our direction, it's been very impactful career-wise, and a different way of understanding how people learn and work at Audible."
Combining her engineering work with her community work has empowered Anshika to ensure that the future of tech is a diverse, representative, and inclusive one. If you're interested in doing the same, check out Audible's open roles here.