Empowering Women and Students in Tech

Are you passionate about advancing women and students in technology and manufacturing? If so, join us for this episode of the MFG eCommerce Success show where Dr. Sirisha K. shares her work helping to Empowering Women & Students in Tech and manufacturing.

Are you passionate about advancing women and students in technology and manufacturing?

If so, join us for this episode of the MFG eCommerce Success show where Dr. Sirisha K. shares her work helping to Empowering Women & Students in Tech and manufacturing.

Dr. Sirisha is a semiconductor industry leader with nearly 20 years of experience in engineering, manufacturing, development, and quality at Texas Instruments. An IEEE Senior Member and holder of a Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University, Dr. Sirisha has made significant strides in engaging with global customers and enhancing customer perception in the semiconductor industry.

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As the founder and principal of Sahita Technologies, Dr. Sirisha is dedicated to modernizing semiconductor programs and fostering industry-academia collaborations. Her work includes consulting on manufacturing, quality, and workforce development.

Dr. Sirisha also produces a top 30% Spotify podcast and hosts a live radio talk show aimed at empowering women and fostering financial and career growth.

Damon and Curt are super excited to discuss empowering women and students in tech with Dr. Sirisha. Curt asks the guest about her childhood in India and who her hero was growing up.

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The Founder of Sahita recalls an advertisement from NASA during her middle school years in India. The ad offered to send a kit with pictures and documents if you mailed them an Air Mail. She wrote to them and received an envelope with space and science pictures, which she still has. This experience excited her about STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).

Curt acknowledges Dr. Sirisha’s early interest in STEM and asks about her journey from India to the United States, specifically to Carnegie Mellon University. Curt inquires about what inspired her to pursue a PhD at Carnegie Mellon.

Dr. Sirisha describes her academic upbringing on a campus surrounded by scientists and engineers, which influenced her career path. She initially studied physics in India, focusing on practical research in condensed matter and material science. Finding quantum mechanics challenging, she shifted to research. At Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), she pursued a degree in material science, transitioning from science to engineering, which she found difficult.

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While expecting her second child, she pursued a PhD. During that time, she worked full-time and took classes at a local university. Feeling overwhelmed, she quit her job to focus on completing her PhD while being a stay-at-home mom to her two children. She encourages others to consider taking breaks from the workforce if feasible, as opportunities to return are abundant.

Appreciating her educational journey, Curt asks the guest about her inspiration to bring her talents and skills into the semiconductor industry.

Dr. Sirisha says that while job hunting as a material science major, she found a fit with Applied Materials, which makes equipment for semiconductor manufacturers. This let her apply her material science knowledge. She has been in the semiconductor industry for twenty years.

Damon expressed his fascination with the complex process of making tiny semiconductor chips work.

Meanwhile, Dr. Sirisha encourages young women to pursue STEM, noting a “pipeline leak” where girls often drift away from STEM fields in elementary and middle school. Her message is clear, “STEM is hard for everyone, but it offers limitless possibilities, so don’t be discouraged.”

Damon and Curt agree with STEM Career Advisor, saying that pushing oneself to the point of failure is essential for maximizing educational growth.

Dr. Sirisha reflects on her elaborate, 20+ years in the semiconductor industry. She discusses her problem-solving skills, combined with technical expertise with strong interpersonal skills. These skills enabled her professional learning to collaborate effectively with teams, manage relationships, and solve complex problems efficiently.

Curt requests her to share her experiences during the early stages of her entrepreneurial journey.

The guest reveals that her learning curve is filled with unexpected challenges and pivots. She compares it to farming or gardening, where one sows seeds without knowing which will sprout. Unlike the structured environment of corporate life, entrepreneurship demands navigating various aspects independently. Despite the ups and downs, she finds value in connecting with other entrepreneurs, seeking support, and exchanging ideas.

At Curt’s request, Dr. Sirisha discusses how her business initiatives make the world a better place. It is through her work in enabling leadership and talent pipelines in organizations, particularly women, and entry-level positions to nurture career growth and drive innovation. She also relates to driving advanced manufacturing solutions, particularly in the semiconductor industry, by engaging in workforce development and sitting on boards to address talent shortages and rebuild industry ecosystems globally.

Although there are excellent career opportunities, the guest finds it challenging to attract students to manufacturing. There is a need to inform students about these opportunities beyond the allure of tech giants, as not everyone may be inclined towards coding or computer-based work.

In her view, young people must be informed about manufacturing opportunities, ranging from community involvement to school programs like robotics clubs. The solution is collaboration among various entities, including schools, economic development councils, universities, and industry organizations. Similarly, companies can reach younger generations effectively through increased visibility on digital media like LinkedIn and YouTube.

Damon praises Dr. Sirisha’s passion for supporting manufacturing and her efforts to help young people grow their careers in the field. Curt acknowledges her ideas and suggestions. He mentions an upcoming program with the Manufacturing Extension Partnerships and seeks advice for manufacturers on how to attract talent and foster excitement within their communities.

At Curt’s request, the guest reveals that in her TED Talk, she discussed “raising money and smart kids” through practical experiences. She shares a personal story about her son wanting to buy expensive shoes and how she used this situation to teach him about budgeting and spending within limits.

As a thought leader, she opines that learning about money and finances should start early. Making mistakes at a young age has minor consequences but offers great lessons. She integrated various anecdotes and research into her talk, displaying that financial education is crucial and individuals must learn to figure out their problems themselves at a young age.

“Absolutely fantastic!” Curt winds down the discussion by recapping the excellent tips and advice shared. He asks Dr. Sirisha about her passion for STEM.

In response, Dr. Sirisha shares her experience hosting a local radio show on a South Asian channel and how it made her think about the various ethnic-specific radio channels. Reflecting on her opportunities and privileges, she believes in providing access to STEM jobs for underrepresented communities.

Similarly, she recounts stories of colleagues from different backgrounds, like those who grew up on farms and had to be resourceful and self-reliant. This resourcefulness, she notes, could herald success in STEM fields.

Moreover, she addresses the cultural differences in attitudes toward being smart. In India, being a technophile is seen as “cool,” while in the U.S., their friends can view them as “geeky.” This peer pressure can prevent students from pursuing valuable opportunities in STEM.

Lastly, she thinks that it is possible to be both smart and feminine, as illustrated by a young girl’s takeaway from watching the movie “Barbie.”

Toward the show’s conclusion, Curt asks the guest for the best business advice she’s received since becoming an entrepreneur.

Dr. Sirisha shares that it is important to embrace failure and recognize when to abandon an idea that isn’t succeeding. She advises entrepreneurs to avoid becoming too attached to their ideas. Instead, they should prepare to pivot and focus their energy on more promising opportunities. The key is to remain flexible and open to change.

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• 50:25
SUMMARY KEYWORDS
stem, find, great, work, ted talk, manufacturing, companies, damon, grow, linkedin, jobs, opportunities, manufacturers, customer, ecosystem, thought, figure, absolutely, semiconductor, friends
SPEAKERS
Curt Anderson, Damon Pistulka, Dr, Sirisha Kuchimanchi

Damon Pistulka 00:03
All right, everyone, it’s Friday and you know what that means? It means it’s time for manufacturing ecommerce success. I am one of your co hosts here. Damon Pustaka. Wow, am I excited for our guest today because we’re going to be talking about empowering women and students in tech. I’m going to turn it over to that pretty man right over there. Curt Anderson. Take it away, my friend.

Curt Anderson 00:30
Thank you, Brother Damon. Happy Friday. Happy Happy Memorial Day weekend to you, your family. Everybody out there. Welcome to the show. We are just so thrilled. This is such an honor. It’s like we have a little bit of a celebrity here. Do you feel a little nervous? Right. I know. We have Dr. Surya in the house here. Dr. Frieza. Happy Friday. How are you today?

Dr, Sirisha Kuchimanchi 00:52
I’m doing well. I’m excited to be here having conversation with both of you.

Curt Anderson 00:56
Well, this is a such a thrill. Thank you. I know you’re super busy. We appreciate you taking the time. You know a couple things I want to dive in. We’ve got a bunch of questions, we’re going to dive in your your vast experience in semiconductor manufacturing what you’re doing for young folks, women, we’re gonna dive into all these things. But before we go there, I have a quick question for you. When you were little girl growing up in I believe India, did you grew up in India that gets that correct? I did a little due diligence on you. And so grew up in India as a little girl growing up, who was your hero? Who did you look up to as a little girl?

Dr, Sirisha Kuchimanchi 01:33
I, you know, at that point, I remember in middle school, elementary, middle school, there was this advertisement in the newspaper. And you know, those are the days of papers that we read. And there was this advertisement from NASA, which said that you could send out a postal it used to be called Air Mail, you could send a post, and they would send you a kit with their pictures and documents. So I remember writing it out. And, of course, you waited a few weeks and getting this envelope, which actually still have at home with all the pictures in the original envelope, which had pictures of space and science and stuff. And that was exciting to be sort of in that stem space.

Curt Anderson 02:13
Alright, so it was in your it was in your DNA early. So let’s let’s fast forward a little bit. So you take that energy, that excitement from NASA, and you bring your talents, your skill, set your excitement to the United States. And I believe you end up at Carnegie Mellon, do I have that correct? Yes, I did. So right down the road for me here in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. And so you go to Carnegie Mellon, just a wonderful university master’s degree PhD, what inspired you to go that direction and land your PhD?

Dr, Sirisha Kuchimanchi 02:43
So I grew up actually, frankly, in a very academic environment, I grew up on this sort of academic campus. So surrounded by scientists and engineers, so maybe it’s part of the DNA, as you call it. So I studied physics. And I did my Master’s in physics in India, but my research was more practical, like condensed matter, material science, I think quantum mechanics was, you know, I was kind of hitting the wall at that it’s so much math. So I switched to doing research and I really enjoyed it. So ice, when I came to CMU, I had applied for a material science degree. So sort of moving from science into engineering. And for many of those who may make that change, I’ll tell you, it’s quite a shift. If you ask me now what the shift is, I don’t remember. But I remember sort of the mindset of shifting was quite hard to do. And not just, you know, culture and stuff, but just technology wise. And I really enjoyed I had a terrific advisor, you know, and doing the research. I and I actually quit after my master’s to start work. So I went back for my PhD, many years later when I was a stay at home mom.

Curt Anderson 03:47
Nice. Awesome. And in how did you end up you, you brought your talents, your skill set into the semiconductor industry? What really what inspired you a lot of different industries that you could have chosen? Why semiconductor?

Dr, Sirisha Kuchimanchi 03:59
So when I was looking for jobs as an IME, if somebody is in this field, I’ll be frank, material science, right? When you’re studying and you go to a job fair, you couldn’t find very few employers out there. You find them in electrical, there’s certain sectors that they tend to cover. And so when I was looking, there was a company Applied Materials was my first employer. So I ended up working there because they make equipment for semiconductor manufacturers. So it was a good fit to take material science and sort of the technology to learn how to do this. And once I got into the industry, even to this day, you know, having been in the industry 20 years, it’s still fascinating, totally amazes me that we can make a semiconductor chip, complicated process so tiny, and how we get to make it work at that small scale is incredibly fascinating.

Damon Pistulka 04:52
Yeah, it is. It is absolutely. Mind blowing how small things are on a chip. Yeah, yeah. And

Curt Anderson 05:03
you, you look at the little, you know, diodes or, you know, these little parts and you’re like it does what, you know, this resistor does what and so, so share a little bit you know, you’re inspired by stem you PhD, you go into semiconductor, lets you know in, you know, demonize our big girl dads, for our young ladies out there that might be considering this a career or maybe it’s not even on their radar whatsoever. What did you find so exciting? What was so inspiring to you? Yeah,

Dr, Sirisha Kuchimanchi 05:31
I’m so glad I mean your girl that so that’s, that’s awesome. I’m a mom of boys, but I meet a lot of young women, you know, all across the place. And I cannot I mean stem to me, if someone has, I’m going to I’m going to do this pitch for stem right now, if anyone is inclined, especially if you’re in school, let’s talk about elementary to middle school. I think there’s sort of a pipeline leak already starting there. For especially young girls. Moving away from stem, I see that from, you know, the people I intersect with. So if anyone is thinking about STEM finds, math or physics interesting, don’t let it pull you away thinking it’s hard. Don’t self limit yourself. It will be hard. We all struggled with math and physics in school I did. I maybe I should share this. My kids know this. I flunked out of a physics class in my master’s I flunked out at different stages. I have failed critical exams. Actually, even my first PhD qualifiers I fail. But I’ve never actually shared that before. But I think it’s important for people to know because they see this end picture and say, Oh, wow, I have to and you have to come back and I and then I got admitted to CMU after that master’s degree. So don’t let that hold you back. Get help as someone, a teacher, a friend, someone who can help you because if you will, slightly inclined, take the opportunity, because stem opens so many doors, you can do anything and everything. You could be in sports, you could be in music, you could be in media, you could do anything. But I, if I think the doors that can open are so many. And we should not hold ourselves back thinking this is hard. It’s hard for everyone. Don’t make don’t even doubt that someone makes it look simple. There might be a few exceptions to it. But everyone, it’s a learning journey. So go ahead and take the shot at it.

Curt Anderson 07:20
Take the shot. Go ahead, do

Damon Pistulka 07:22
well, and you said it well. The truth is, if you’re not pushing that hard in your education, to really go to the point of failure of I don’t know how to do this, you really not pushing your education as far as you could? Because, yes, you may fail the first time, but you can work on it and come back again. And like you said, and come back through it. And how much did you grow in that process? You grew an awful lot?

Dr, Sirisha Kuchimanchi 07:51
Which Yeah, absolutely right. It’s fun to find out that you can challenge yourself, you know, you have self doubt, someone else may doubt that you’ll pass or you’re not going to but if you come back and try and you actually do it, I mean that I think that that I think builds a certain level of confidence that nothing is going to hold you back. And I mean, even in even through my career, I’ve you know, experienced the layoff, I’ve quit work, like I said to be a stay at home mom, all those things in retrospect a confidence building exercises, because we will experience life change. The question is, how do you react to it? How do you come back from it, and I’m not going to make it sound simple. People are in different life situations, their circumstances may be incredibly more complicated than mine were, look for support, find a support network. And I think that’s also really helpful. You have to find a network, find some supportive friends, you know, move out of the house, it could be going to the library, it could be anything, taking a walk, but we need to be able to push our own boundaries. Because I mean, technology is changing so fast. We don’t know what AI and all those things is going to do to our world. Right. And unless we keep learning, we are going to stagnate and hit a wall again.

Curt Anderson 09:07
Right. So I want to go here. So David, I know this resonates for both of us, Damon, your mother earned her PhD in you know, after raising kids. My mother went back to school, went off to Smith College and as she went to University of Pittsburgh, so she was right near near you, Dr. Sharifah. So, you know, stay at home mom, you know, lot going on what what triggers like, Hey, what the heck, I’m gonna go to my PhD. You know, I have nothing better to do, right. Like, what was what was what was going on there?

Dr, Sirisha Kuchimanchi 09:35
Yeah, so I’d actually it started a little before that. I’d been working about four and a half years and, you know, I’d stepped away I’d started my PhD work when I started working. And I wanted to go back and finish it sort of this urge to want to complete this process because it was a challenge. In a way it was sort of a personal goal. And it started earlier in the sense I was working full time I was taking a couple of classes a day local university, my son was two and I was expecting my second one when I started my PhD program. And with all of those four things going on, obviously, it was too much. And in the back of my mind, I already knew I was likely to quit work, I was going to take a break, I wanted to spend some time with my kids. So I quit work, and then finished my PhD program while I was a stay at home mom, when my second son was born, and I was off from work for a few years. But in a lot of ways, it was the best time. I mean, obviously, I had the privilege the opportunity to do it, when people asked me, being a stay at home mom was much tougher than working when I came back, because this sort of ecosystem of being a stay at home mom, the process never ends, right? It’s a cycle that keeps on like, the dishes are always in the sink, someone always needs help. So it’s like, it’s like, it’s like a circular process. But I got to make friends with the same friends. You know, our kids are graduating from high school, they’re going off to college, and we still all hang out together. And it’s been like a journey. And I cannot say enough good things about if someone is even thinking about it. And it’s a hard decision to make to step away from the workforce, whether it’s a parent caregiving, whatever, of personal reasons. But if you think you can manage it, don’t doubt that you can always come back, I think there’s opportunities galore for you to figure out a way to come back.

Curt Anderson 11:28
Well, that’s fantastic. And I would I what I love to share now is you and I had a great conversation, I just I you know what you’ve done through your career. And I like to you know, and I know you’re very modest, very humble, you’re like, hey, you know, I’m not here for me, you want to share a message. But I just want to I would love for young folks to hear out there. You know, what, what the education that you’ve, you’ve earned and obtained, what you’ve done, what you’ve accomplished, and just, you know, some of them share some of the highlights and some of the exciting things that you’ve done in your career, why manufacturing is so awesome. Why stem, you know, what STEM can lead to let’s look at the end result, can you share a little bit there? Sure.

Dr, Sirisha Kuchimanchi 12:04
So I spent 20 plus years in the semiconductor industry. I mean, if you’re looking for what I’ve achieved, I guess, personally, you know, getting my PhD was a very important goal. For me, it’s, it was a way to challenge yourself solving important problem. But now I get to also leverage some of those skill sets. Because it’s also a skill set, right? It’s not just about the research, you learn a way to solve problems. So leverage that as I’m running my business, it also helped me leverage that strength when I was working with internal and external customers. So I worked with a lot of customers in the end of my career at TI that I was working, so I would work with them and look at engineering solutions. So the way my working style tends to be is there’s a technical and engineering solution component, which is very, very strong, obviously. But there’s also huge people, person component is collaborating internal partners, you know, I had teams that I managed, so enabling them to grow, get them, you know, have enabling to see how to get people promoted, and advocating for them, but also building relationships with external partners. So you can really solve problems together. I mean, all the simple problems have probably been solved, the only things that need need teams to be able to come together, and you need different skills. So that I think for me, I consider that one of my super strengths, how to solve a technical problem, I can solve it. But also, in addition to that, how can I leverage the strengths of others to bring the solution to mind and to end quickly so that we can fix this faster?

Curt Anderson 13:42
Excellent. So I want to I want to slide here, so great, you know, academia, wonderful corporate career, you become an entrepreneur. That’s quite a pivot, right? Can you share a little bit? See the early stages of the entrepreneur, you know, journey, what it looked like? Scary, exciting, what was what were you feeling what was going through your mind at that stage? Oh,

Dr, Sirisha Kuchimanchi 14:04
I think it’s been a huge learning curve. I don’t think it quite prepares you for what you’re looking for. Because what I’ve come to realize, I mean, lots of lessons learned, I think, actually made a LinkedIn post a few months ago, the analogy that comes to mind is like you’re farming or gardening, you’re tilling the soil, you’re sowing the seeds, and you have no idea which is gonna sprout. I mean, maybe many people come out with exactly they know what they want to build, but I, you know, often you end up pivoting or they have no idea and you’re kind of going through which is probably what most cases. In corporate there’s a very straight structure, right? You work within the structure. Yes, there are new problems, but there is a system that holds you in place. Here, you’re on your own. You’re figuring out all different aspects. I’ve had a lot of like pivots in this. It’s been a journey. It’s It’s scary. It’s exciting. But in this way, I’ve managed to connect with a lot of people I’ve also built another ecosystem of other entrepreneurs locally, you know, some of us meet often because to support to exchange ideas, you know, I go to startup networks, I go to these meetups to meet other like minded people. And it is I, I hesitate to say this, but I think it’s not for the faint hearted, it is challenging. You have to be willing to like push through because there’ll be I think I heard some very successful CS CEOs say this. He said, there’ll be days when I feel like clapping and other days I want to hide under my desk. I think that’s exactly what it feels like. You’re like, this is awesome. And then you get this next email or this next message, and you’re like, oh, my gosh, this is terrible. And it’s like, yeah,

Curt Anderson 15:42
right. Well, I think you describe it perfectly. Yeah. What? That was fantastic. Yeah. Now, I want to cite over wrote, We have a bunch of things we want to dive into. I’m going to slide into, you know, what the topic of our program is today is, you know, please share, you know, how you’re making the world a better place you have so heated technologies, you’re very passionate about helping young folks, women particular getting into tech stem, just share a little bit about how are you making the world a better place today? Yeah,

Dr, Sirisha Kuchimanchi 16:15
so some of this, there’s a couple of different ways I intersect. So I work on enabling leadership, talent pipelines and organizations and companies. This is about building strong talent, you know, women focus, but just young sort of entry level positions, how do you grow your career? It’s an I think you have to look at it from two sides, obviously, for the person, it is about enabling their journey. But from a company standpoint, it enables them to drive innovation, because if you have engaged employees, people who are heard, who who know that when they have suggestions, you listen to it, it drives innovation. Because just using the simple example of speaking up in meetings, right, you want to hear different perspectives. That way, you can de risk the thing. For the heater technologies, I focus on driving advanced manufacturing solutions, there is, you know, huge shift going on, as all of these technologies are coming, we’re trying to navigate the space, how does it affect predictive maintenance? There’s a lot of conversations around how the intersection of AI and everything can do but how do you streamline manufacturing operations? How do you drive that? And also workforce development solutions? So I engage in sit on boards, which talk about semiconductor Workforce Solutions, because the semiconductor industry is obviously onshoring and reshoring, in the US, but actually, if you look across the globe, it’s the same thing is happening. Every country is trying to bring this industry back or grow this industry new. There’s a huge talent shortage. And I mean, in some ways, these ecosystems are being rebuilt. So how do you engage industry, academia, government, to build these programs? And how do you attract students into it? I think that is, in some ways, the bigger challenge. Yeah, in, in my mind, we may build Rome. But how do people know that they should show up at Rome, that there is a roadmap to Rome and Rome exists?

Damon Pistulka 18:15
Yeah, we talked about that every every week, we talk about that in manufacturing. You know, there’s so many people don’t even know the wonderful opportunities that there are in all parts of it. And exactly.

Dr, Sirisha Kuchimanchi 18:29
And that is a big challenge, because I just look at my own kids and the ecosystems I’m in right, a lot of kids are moving to computer science, which is a tremendous field. But where do they see it? They see it with Google and meta and all of these companies, and they pay really well. And they see these opportunities. As the same as industries, manufacturing sectors, advanced manufacturing, companies beat semiconductor aerospace, all of these companies. They have a talent shortage gap, they are trying to attract technician, engineering, talent doesn’t have to be a four year degree, it could be a two year degree, it could be a certificate. But how do you let students know that these opportunities exist? Because not everyone wants to code or work in front of the computer? I’m not a coder. I do not do I mean, I use software tools. But if you ask me about how they work, I do not know. But I like the engineering problem solving. You know, some kids, young people like hands on, you know, they like building robots, they like fixing their cars. I mean, they could be doing anything. So it’s a different sort of skill set, that they have to know that, hey, there is this whole industry that I can be extremely successful. I can get to work on the coolest stuff. And you know, make good I mean, one of them, let’s not forget the economics, you want to make good money, you’re gonna make really good money. And even if we talk about AI chips, and chips won’t exist if these manufacturers don’t build the chips. So it’s gonna mean we need all of it to work together. So

Damon Pistulka 20:01
Yeah, so, so great. So great. We got Diane Byers, weighing in, she’s

Curt Anderson 20:06
saying, Friday to ya friend, great to hate the world

Damon Pistulka 20:10
a better place helped grow their career. Awesome. She’s such a great supporter of manufacturing, Dr. Teresa, and she said you’re speaking my language. And then one of the things like I said, we talk about this a lot. Absolutely. How do you let them know about these opportunities? And she’s speaking towards children and younger, younger people in the opportunities in manufacturing? Because so much. Yeah,

Dr, Sirisha Kuchimanchi 20:37
so I mean, there’s, there’s no one solution that fits right. So there’s many different ways. So at a community at an ISD level, at a school district level, or bid charter or private school is finding parents or mentors who work in this, it could be the robotics club, it could be other things. And I know that all schools may not have the facilities to do this. But I’ve, you know, gone to robotics competitions, and sometimes the schools that you don’t think have the facilities are the ones that are extremely successful. So don’t let that be a barrier. It’s about working with your, you know, local economic demo. EDC is your local chamber of commerce’s. It’s about your local universities, community colleges, SME, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, you know, there’s SRC for semiconductors. They’re all of these national consortiums, that exists that are advocating for this, there’s a lot of things going on, there’s, you know, like, for Girls Who Code there are these organizations, if someone wants to know more, they can just email me or DM me on LinkedIn, and we can have another conversation. But there are things going on. But we need more visibility. And let’s be frank, everybody is on digital media, if you’re trying to catch Gen Z, and whatever the next generations are, you have to have a digital presence, you cannot do it the old fashioned way and expect them. I mean, I’m also dating myself when I say that, I don’t mean anything, right. But we cannot expect them to necessarily fit into our ecosystems, we have to understand where they are and go where they are sitting. Because they are not. And I don’t, I don’t judge them for it, I think it’s great that they’re very clear about what they’re willing to do and what they want to do. And kudos to them for holding that space. And we need to figure out how to mash it together. We cannot each hold a fort and say we will stay where we are. But we need to bring people together to solve this.

Curt Anderson 22:37
Alright, tons of ideas. They’re great suggestions. You know, we we bring on summer. In fact, even next week, we have the manufacturing extension partnerships. That’s a great organization throughout the United States, that supports manufacturers, we have a great program coming up on on Wednesday, we’re going to do a deep dive there. Dr. Srijit is, you know, how about for our manufacturing friends, you know, the manufacturers themselves? You know, constantly, you know, through COVID, post COVID They’re looking for talent, any tips, suggestions, advice? I know you rattle off a bunch of different organizations, but what could they do internally to like, maybe build that culture? You know, generate that excitement in their community? To say like, Boy, that’s a great place to work. Any any suggestions for manufacturers? Yeah,

Dr, Sirisha Kuchimanchi 23:19
especially. Okay, so my understanding, what I’ve learned is, if you’re looking for technicians, that often from your local community, these are not people who are necessarily commuting long distances, they’re not, they may move but not likely moved from Colorado to Texas for a job. So your local economy is very intrinsic to this. So I would say those companies need to be, you know, companies tend to have, say, let’s bring your kids to work. They are certain ecosystem, you need to start going to the schools, inviting school field trips, going to the teachers, having workshops with the teachers, what we forget, is teachers are your biggest advocates, right? I mean, I’ll give an example. When my kids are in school, the counselor has 300 students, there’s no way she can engage and tell them what to do. And she has such a wide variety. Your science teachers, your math teachers wants to see the kids really get them to, you know, have programs have summer training programs for them. They are also looking for opportunities to learn and grow. You know, pay them a stipend or have them come and have a workshop. There are so many ways because if you get your local community, your teachers, your other ecosystems to be advocate for you. They they want to grow, they want to see their own children are the children succeed. They want the communities to grow, they need jobs. I mean, that’s part of what every City’s charter is. Do the partnership try and figure out how to intersect this that that is one way to do it.

Curt Anderson 24:45
That is a fantastic way to Yes. Right. And I tell you just gave a phenomenal idea. You know, we work with manufacturers on trying to figure out the whole ecommerce thing or digital transformation. And it’s not just attracting customers. It’s attracting ideal employees. You’re making such a phenomenal point, you know, so for our manufacturers out there where maybe they don’t see the value in, while I’m a manufacturer, why we should have a Facebook page, or why you should have a YouTube channel, what a great, we just did an in person workshop yesterday and one of the manufacturers was talking about how they’re doing all sorts of videos, and now people are chiming in on their videos, hey, we didn’t know that you did this. We didn’t know you had this. We didn’t know that your staff looked like this, you know, what a wonderful culture you have, like, it’s letting the community know, like, what’s behind the curtain? You know? And, you know, so it’s not necessarily just attracting new business or new customers. And one gentleman that was in our workshop yesterday was like, Hey, we’re at capacity, we can’t take on another customer. Well, guess what you need to recruit employees. That’s why you need to have that digital presence. So any any suggestions there as far as like what they could be doing online to help strengthen that presence?

Dr, Sirisha Kuchimanchi 25:52
Absolutely. I mean, see, before we had gatekeepers, right, you you got only digital media, print media, by working with the magazine, or the TV station and stuff. Now, it’s, I mean, it’s all equitable, in a sense, you have access to free PR, you know, you branding yourself how you show up. And I think we have to be conscious. I know. And I’ve seen a gamut of companies, right? I mean, I just use LinkedIn as an example. Because that’s really the professional network where a lot of people see YouTube is a great resource, if people had to pick these would be the two channels, especially for something like this, because you get professionals to engage with and then you get a whole different ecosystem of people across demographics and across the world, that you can engage on YouTube. And you get to show who you are what you do. And that is a great way to connect, to build that. Because now you get to control what you say, I mean, not fully, but up to a point. And then you get to build a connection, because, in all essence, even what we’re doing here, right, it’s about building community, it’s about building a connection, in a way because sales and marketing does not work by just pitching somebody in them coming. They have to trust you, they have to know you, I guess they using NIHL for sports. But in essence, that’s what we’re doing for all our businesses name, image likeness, someone has to, you know, feel confident trust you like you. And that’s our business relationships develop, even if you’re selling a product, especially for longevity, that’s what you need for repeat business, because that’s a big part of it. It’s not just getting new customers each time.

Curt Anderson 27:32
What a fantastic analogy that I love to speak. And you know what, I don’t want to digress, but you know, I dropped your TED talk in the chatbox here. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that, because we’re coming in, I think we’re close to the top of the hour. And sometimes, if people have a meeting that they’re going to come into, absolutely, check out Dr. Sharif, his TED talk is absolutely fantastic. And if you don’t mind I we’re going to come back to you know, we want to talk further about STEM folks that you’re recruiting all the wonderful work that you’re doing. But Damon, I have a percentage that I want to throw at you and I’m gonna see if you know the answer. What percentage of professional athletes struggle financially after they retire? Dr. Patricia do I have that exact question? Correct. Do I have that right? How many professional athletes struggle financially after they retire from professional sports?

Damon Pistulka 28:25
I have no idea. Throw

Curt Anderson 28:26
just throw it just throw a number out there how you know they’ve never need 2% You’re pretty darn close to your your is he? He’s very close. Dr. Srijan? What’s the number? Yeah,

Dr, Sirisha Kuchimanchi 28:37
it’s always 70% and these are athletes who make over a million dollars on average a year and they go broke. Like Ivan, you know, Allen Iverson also went broke earning hum you know, $200 million. So it’s is that financial education, financial literacy. So that’s, so I used to host a podcast like we talked about Kurt and I used to talk more about navigating career, but I used to talk about finances because you go to work you enjoy, but you also go to work to make money and you want to be able to have choices and options. And we don’t really learn financial education in school. So very important for us to learn those skills. Because those are things that stay with us forever. So how you build your future. Time is your best friend. So the earlier you start, if you have time on your side, it obviously helps. Right? So

Curt Anderson 29:28
it’s a phenomenal TED talk. I strongly encourage invite encourage everybody to check that out in Utah, a funny story about Your son buying shoes and a TED talk. Do you want to just your mind, do you mind sharing that real quick? Yeah,

Dr, Sirisha Kuchimanchi 29:39
so So the TED talk is about raising money smart kids about how do you talk to your kids about financial literacy so because my son was around eight years old and you know, school was getting ready to stop and he wanted to buy a pair of shoes and for some reason, I think he had a pair of Reeboks and he was very fixated on getting Reeboks. He thought that was the only shoe brand So we went to the Reebok store, and he picked up a pair of shoes. They were like 80 bucks. I mean, now maybe 80 bucks isn’t that much. This is quite a while ago. And I was like, I told him no, my budget when I left home was $40. So anything else that comes comes out of your pocket, they used to get an allowance. So it was going to come out of his pocket, and he looked at me. And, you know, very hesitantly went and put the shoes back and he walked around the store, picked up $60 shoes, you could see the wheels turning Oh, 20 bucks, put it back 50 bucks. And he kept looking. And he didn’t find anything he liked. So he put it back. And he finally came and asked me Can we go to another store? I was like, Sure. So he went to another store, he still did the same thing he didn’t find it went to another store. Again, you know, and I think by the fourth or fifth we were running out of shoe stores to go to the only mall has only so many. So we hit the last door. And he picked up a shoe box. He was trying pairs and looking thing he found one that was like 3995 that he liked. And I was happy. And he got that shoe. And you know, I paid the taxes I didn’t wasn’t going to charge him taxes for it. So he was happy. And I was happy but was very like staying on budget, because they knew that, hey, if this is the budget, I thought about that the rest was going to come out. So he’d have to see if he made 20 bucks for a kid and 40 bucks if a kid was getting an allowance of a couple of bucks a month is a lot of money to get out of shoes. Not that tight to it. So I think practice. I mean, my TED talk is full of stories. You know, examples, either of mine are things I’ve read some statistics research, it’s weaved with this. But essentially, it boils down to just what we were talking about career, right, you’re going to make mistakes. When you’re young, the the consequences of making those mistakes is so little that you can learn. I mean, if you didn’t even if you had bought the $80 shoes, you would have still learned something from it, right? There was a choice here are made. But the earlier you learn it, but it comes with a lot of practice, we can talk to our kids, but our you know, you could be your nieces, it could be your grandkids, it could be a family, friends, child doesn’t matter. But the more you practice, the better you’re going to figure out and learn. And every one of us has different financial states. So I’m not saying there’s a one side you have to find out what fits you. But there are certain caveats and you know, the basics of finances that we need to figure out how to navigate. And oftentimes what happens is that 21 Someone gets a job, and then they forgot to get their first paycheck and realize taxes. What Wait, they told me I’m getting 5000 bucks, why do I only have 3800, or whatever it is? Rest of money.

Curt Anderson 32:35
So write those down all the taxes get in the way. We came up with that one?

Damon Pistulka 32:40
Yeah. Yeah.

Curt Anderson 32:43
Alright, so hey, Diane, and I know we’re over the top of the hour here. So if you’re just joining us, we’re here with Dr. Surya. cuccia Monchi. And so Dr. Sharifah, let’s continue you’re talking before so TED Talk, connect with Dr. shisha here on LinkedIn, all sorts of wonderful things going on here. We were talking about underrepresented markets that that really could be, you know, a great skill set or, you know, labor force for manufacturers. Do you want to go there and just share a little bit from your experience or how you’re helping that? Yeah,

Dr, Sirisha Kuchimanchi 33:13
so underrepresented? So one of the things that really strongly aligns with what I work on is how do you enable underrepresented communities access to STEM jobs. So this goes back to earlier in the conversation, because stem first of all, is technology driven. And let’s not forget STEM jobs pay really well. So for underrepresented communities who might be struggling or at a certain economic scale, the ability to access these jobs not only helps them but helps lift their families, their communities, oftentimes, what we see is we look for role models, right? We need to find people who look like so here as a whole might have worked something similar. Not always, but it definitely helps. So how do we find advocates to get into these communities to talk about STEM about these opportunities? And it goes back to the conversation on schools and teachers and stuff. You need to be where the students are, because they don’t if I find my student living in a, in a community where say, my parent works, two jobs, you know, we’re constrained for time and economically, how do I know what is out there? All of us as kids are usually only surrounded by the ecosystem that our parents and we surround ourselves with. So we don’t have us. I mean, you have digital media, but digital media gets curated a certain way. How do you find out what is there out there? And how do you access them? So it’s very important to be able to, I don’t know, you could mentor you could work with different sectors. It goes back to if you’re talking about manufacturing companies, goes back to working through ISD like I know this gentleman who hosts the Renaissance drew Drew and he reaches different kinds communities and talks to them about manufacturing jobs. Young people are excited about it. They just don’t know about it. How do we get them? How do we retain them? Because in this economy, yes, getting talent is hard, no matter which sector of the industry, but retention is a big challenge companies struggle with retaining young people because they want to move, they want to try new things. It’s a very different, like when I joined, you know, people had 20 year badges, 40 year badges. And it was like a sort of question of pride and honor to have that, and that’s what we looked. But now if you look, three years, five years, people usually want to move and try something different. So right,

Curt Anderson 35:39
I love what you’re saying in Ghent, referencing the workshop I was at yesterday. So a manufacturer, they make these massive magnets that go on cranes, and you know, they’re picking up, you know, metal work and what have you. They are absolutely crushing it on YouTube shorts, in what they’re doing is they’re, they’re experimenting with different songs on the different shorts. And so they’re studying their, their demographic, their ICP, and they’re like, well, that’s older dudes. And so they’re playing like a queen song, or, like, you know, some songs that you know, the demon guys our age would listen to, and they’re getting 1000s of views by playing, you know, queen, we will rock you, it’s absolutely hysterical. So, you know, little adhered, they’re just being creative. They’re being innovative, but what they’re doing is they’re meeting their customer, I think they inject that comment, you know, meet your customer, where, where they are. And so, you know, that’s, we’ve now become, my buddy sent me a little gift or whatever the other day and said, You know, I watch Instagram reels, which are, you know, the TIC TOCs that were hot two weeks ago, you know, you know, I don’t watch tick tock, I watched into Instagram reels, you know, that were popular from two weeks ago. So but the thing is like, so communicating with that customer with that ICP. Dr. Patricia, what are Have you seen, you know, as you’re coaching with folks that you’re working with any examples you mentioned, Drew, any other examples that you want to share? That’s working really well? Yeah.

Dr, Sirisha Kuchimanchi 37:00
Because so I work a lot of industry academia collaborations, right? Like, how do we build a digital strategy? How do we look at a digital footprint? How do we strategize on building Workforce Solutions? Because everything we have to take a step back and look holistically, like the way I like to work is okay, I know here, but my question always is, what is your end goal? What is your ideal end goal? Don’t tell me today, one year from now, like, ideally, where and sometimes we’ve not thought about it, which is fair enough. But where would you like to go? And asking those questions and making people think about it? And, you know, then asking, how are we reaching this customer? Who is your audience, right? I mean, you you host the show, you’re always thinking, who is your audience? When I started a podcast, I didn’t think about who my audience was, there was a message I wanted to talk about. But then you start thinking about, everyone talks about this avatar, and you have to think about who your audiences I mean, who your audience is, there is Kurt who likes listening to Queen music, he’s manufacturing and he likes playing pickleball on Sunday, maybe you need like, like this, this whole persona, and you have to kind of talk to one person. And the thing is the solution, when I’m working with someone right now is is not about what I think the solution should be, I need to understand if my customer is going to think of that as a solution. So I need to actually reach them and ask, Hey, this is how I’m designing it. Am I reaching you? Are you my right? Or? I mean, I know you’re my right audience, but is this the journey you’re going to navigate? Is this the journey you’re willing to navigate? Because if you’re not going to use these resources, I can create whatever I want, it would just be a wasted effort. So when we’re talking about reaching these, you need to reach this, you know, say, a high school student who’s in 10th grade was trying to make a decision. Maybe they they didn’t know they could be a technician and they want to be a technician. How do you reach them? Go talk to them, go find out. I mean, I know there are IRB regulations and all of this, but figure out how to work the system. You know, make a focus group and reach them, talk to them, maybe get high school interns to come to your company worker, worker work, learn and work and learn internship with us cool campus, because even students and teachers and you know, CTE coordinators, they want their students to be successful. They’re trying to find different ways. The education system, and this is across the globe. It’s not just the US thing is they’re very structured a certain way. And there are certain success metrics. And let’s be frank, whether we work in education, corporate, wherever we are driven by success metrics, which are important that are chosen very carefully. But they’re also very structured. It doesn’t allow for someone who’s not fitting that journey. Maybe you measure college grad, how many kids are going to college. But what if someone wants to take a different path? They don’t show up on your metrics and what resources do you have for them, and how much can you allocate to it? And maybe you find that instead of five students you really have 30 students who might be interested in this pipeline, how do you figure out that solution that can work for those 30 people, then you start small and then you grow. And then you work with partners, maybe for the ISD next to you or community next to you, and then you build an ecosystem together.

Curt Anderson 40:18
Alright, this is such good stuff. We, you are speaking in Pittsburgh, is it next week, or we can have

Dr, Sirisha Kuchimanchi 40:24
Yes, a June 3, June 3, that week, smart experience is being hosted in Pittsburgh by SME and other organizations. So I’m going to be a panelist in the women and smart panel. So if anyone’s in Pittsburgh, or associated with any of these, please reach out. You actually, even if you’re not in Pittsburgh, reach out to me, I like connecting with people on LinkedIn. You know, you never know where you’ll find an intersection point. So ping me on LinkedIn. And if you’re looking for solutions, just reach me as well. And we can have a chat.

Curt Anderson 40:54
Well, all right, fantastic, Damon, we’ll start winding down. And a couple of things that I want to recap on just, you know, all sorts of excellent tips, advice. You know, one thing what what sparks your passion for this specific cause? Why this cause out of anything that you could be fired up about?

Dr, Sirisha Kuchimanchi 41:11
So for about a year, I hosted a local radio show, a live talk show, it’s a very different experience than a podcast, if you’ve tried doing, I mean, you’re doing a live show here on LinkedIn, so you probably have a pretty good idea. So I used to do it on a South Asian radio channel. And, you know, a lot of radio channels that are niched for certain demographics are run on a certain FM spectrum or an am spectrum. And it got me thinking about, you know, there were probably South Asian, Black Latinx channels on similar frequencies as ours. And I, you know, I live in Dallas. So there’s lots of different neighborhoods, different economics, demographics, and it’s like, I’ve had a lot of opportunity and privilege, you know, to access stem to all of this, definitely had more than probably most people. You know, my kids obviously see that and that ecosystem is very different. And I think about all the people who don’t have those role models who may not know how to access this, and I think they would love it, they would like to do it. I mean, I used to work with colleagues who grew up on a farm and you know, they’re so smart, because they’ve had to, and like, memorize to ask when, I mean, I came from India, so it was very confusing for me in the beginning. And my colleagues would say, Yeah, we fix everything on the farm, because you can’t pay someone else to fix it. I’m like, oh, okay, I get it now. And, you know, they they’re so handy with like, they would fix their houses. And houses are built very differently in the US from an Indian, you’re like, how do you fix a house, you know, fix flooring and fix? It seems very complicated. Over time you figured out and learn the skills? But so how do you get all these people to access STEM jobs? Because and there might be people who are interested in art who might who want to be content creators. I mean, there are a lot of jobs out there. But I’m just saying, if this is the thing, this is a growing sector, there’s going to be more and more and more opportunities. We are no matter whether you’re an artist, you use technology, you could be a makeup art, you could be anything. Literally everybody uses technology, your grandparents use technology, there is nobody who does it. The question is, do you want to be a part of that economy to do it? Because technology is changing? This always jobs? Yes, they will change with AI. And like I said, you get to work on cool stuff, you get to get paid well, you get to grow. And then maybe you may change your mind and want to be an entrepreneur tomorrow. It doesn’t matter what you choose. But that is a good ecosystem. So my thing is, how do we get more people? And this is a very interesting thing. So when I came to the US, and I think many of us who come from India, you hear about STEM challenges in the US? I’m sure India has some sort of it. But in India, you don’t think about it, you don’t have that. I mean, there may be less girls in engineering school, but it’s not a stem challenge the way the US seems to define it. Because I remember going for this off site meeting. And you know, there were three of us from India. And all three of us said the same thing. We don’t think of STEM as a challenge because a lot of people go to engineering school. In some ways in India, being smart is cool. Like here, athletes are cool. In India, being smart is not a bad thing. You’re like actually the cool kid on the block. So it’s a very different mindset when you come here and you’re like, that is not a good thing. I’m like, Okay, I guess I don’t get it. But it’s, it’s, it’s okay to be smart that it’s a very different mindset. The end, the reason I bring it up is in conversation with young people. Sometimes that’s what derails them. They don’t want to be thought of geeky. I know kids who don’t want to be in a robotics club because they don’t want to be categorized as set up a part of this demographic. And I’m like, You’re losing out so much opportunity just because you don’t want to label stuck on you. When you could drive so much more. Don’t have led that label of peer pressure if if that is what’s driving you stop you from doing it. You can be a cheerleader and be in STEM in the robotics club doesn’t matter. And I had this fascinating conversation with this young lady who watched Barbie which, by the way, I haven’t seen but what she said is what she took away from it is, because she sees this happen in school, she said, I realized that I can be smart, and I can be feminine. She thought she had to pick a lane, because if she showed up like this, the way her friends treated her was very different. And I was like, huh, I hadn’t even thought of it like that. So it is okay to own different parts of your personality. And it’s very hard for us to do that. And, and it’s, I can totally understand this peer pressure as a teenager, I cannot imagine how hard it must be. Yeah, but you know, fine, and that I’ll find something but don’t let someone else dictate what you should do for yourself.

Curt Anderson 45:57
That’s a that’s a draft right? Boom, that was a total drop the mic that was just a thing of beauty. That was masterclass. Dr. Tricia, I could not agree with you more. That was such a profound whatever you want to call it right there. You know, Damon, I don’t know about you, you know, a lot of times, you know, you know, is that cool? Or hip if you’re, you know, smart, so, you know, then you become the dumb jock. And then my problem, I wasn’t even a good athlete. So I couldn’t, you know, I was just dumb. You know, so I just thought that was absolutely yeah, what a great line. That was, thank you for sharing that brilliance. You know, be competitive, you know, be proud of being smart. I just thought that was that was awesome. All right. I know you have tons of lives, that you’re changing the world and making the world a better place. Actually, I’m gonna let you go. I have one last question. And we’ll let you go. Now that you’re an entrepreneur, best business advice that you’ve ever been given, what would you say is the best business advice that you really either live with on a daily basis, or that has helped propel your business? Best business advice?

Dr, Sirisha Kuchimanchi 47:02
You know, you’re gonna fail sometimes. And sometimes it’s better to fail fast, then pull the idea through continuously and think, I mean, there’s a tipping point when some ideas succeed, but sometimes, you know, it’s just not gonna work. But do you want to pour energy into it, just let it go. Don’t be wedded to the idea. I think that’s the hardest part, as an entrepreneur, you’re stuck on your idea and you own it and you love it. But if you look at any company’s history, the extremely successful ones that we know, they didn’t start where they were, they pivoted, probably many of them didn’t stay where they were, maybe they had a grand vision or did not. Don’t be wedded to the idea. In the end your energy what you like, what you want to do it all come together. So that is part of figuring out the journey. Fail

Curt Anderson 47:46
fast and pursue it Hey, gales here today. Daymond. Hey, Gail, happy Friday.

Damon Pistulka 47:52
She’s doing that fail fast. It’s so true. That’s right.

Curt Anderson 47:55
So David, we will wind down the show, we can find you on LinkedIn, we have your TED talk in the chatbox. any place else that you’d like folks to find you?

Dr, Sirisha Kuchimanchi 48:04
Yeah, so connect with me on LinkedIn. If people are looking for, you know, having a conversation on advanced manufacturing workforce development solutions, they can still find me on LinkedIn. And check out my Savita technologies web page, and you can connect with me. And we can see how to work together. Well,

Curt Anderson 48:21
well, first off, I want to give you a huge, huge thank you. And how about a huge round of applause Damon, and let’s give Dr. Tricia a wonderful round of applause for just being so awesome. Sharing your energy, your inspiration, your truth today. We appreciate you. We applaud you. We commend you keep, you know, keep inspiring our young folks out there and just let them know how wonderful manufacturing is. You are an incredible inspiration to all of us. Damon, takeaways, you want to close this out with your thoughts. It’s just it’s

Damon Pistulka 48:50
great to see and hear you talk about, you know, getting women young people into tech and stem because it’s, it is a great incentive. Not just great. It’s an incredible career choice. But so many people don’t even consider it. And they’re sitting on the sidelines and things that they may not enjoy nearly as much as they would. That’s right, right. Yeah. Yeah,

Dr, Sirisha Kuchimanchi 49:17
very true. Don’t Don’t. Don’t let that be a barrier. Try and see if you don’t like it. You can always switch. Yep, it’s hard to switch back to stem. It’s easier to switch out of STEM.

Curt Anderson 49:27
That’s right. Oh, good. Great advice. So we wish everybody out there. Thank you for joining us. Thank you for everybody who was in the chat. Thank you for everybody that joined us today in caught Dr. Street. This was just a wonderful conversation. We wish everybody a wonderful safe fantastic holiday Memorial Day weekend and Damon let’s let’s close it out my friend.

Damon Pistulka 49:47
Yeah, I just want to say real quick Ronald, thanks for stopping by dropping a comment and but thanks, everyone for being here. Gail, Diane the others Ronald said thanks for being In here, if you didn’t hear this from the beginning, go back to the beginning. Listen to Dr. Sharifah. Talk about empowering women and students in tech and stem. It was awesome. So thank you everyone for now. We will be back again next week. Have a great weekend.

Dr, Sirisha Kuchimanchi 50:22
Thank you. Good. Thank you, David.

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