by | May 2, 2023

Ep. 2 | Shweta Gupta VP of IT at Deutsche Bank


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Podcast Summary

An Innovative problem solver with excellent organisational and analytical skills and proven ability to lead diverse cross functional teams and getting results for local and global initiatives

Shweta Gupta is a change & IT transformation manager with 20 years’ experience working in leading global financial institutions. Often titled “The Idea Person”, She has studied Bachelors in Computer Science & Engineering and has recently completed her Executive MBA from London Business School UK . Shweta is a strong proponent of Diversity & Inclusion & is passionate about learning & technology.

Show Notes

Our Guest:

Shweta Gupta | LinkedIn

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Audio Transcription

Charles James: Welcome to my podcast, Cyber Glass Ceiling. I’m going to have a light hearted fireside chat with some people who are leaders in the industry of cyber security. Prominent for the fact that they are women, people of colour, LGTBQ, or just different. The term glass ceiling refers to sometimes invisible barriers to success that many come up against in their careers.

A management consultant called Marilyn Lowden coined the phrase almost 40 years ago regarding women rising to senior positions and says it’s still as relevant as ever today. So I’ve taken it a little step further, not just women, but people of colour and bias that may exist in the workplace and how they overcame this to become leaders in the industry.

I promise not too much swearing, no politics or religion, just a cuppa and whatever takes your fancy.

And welcome to the second episode of Cyber Glass Ceiling. Today I have Shweta Gupta, who is the VP of IT for

Shweta Gupta: Deutsche Bank.

Charles James: Deutsche Bank. Thank you, Shweta. Before we start, welcome.

Shweta Gupta: Thank you.

Charles James: I know we met a couple of weeks ago an event and I was blown away by the sort of journey that you, you’ve taken and looking at your background, I thought, great, let’s get Shweta in and let’s have a conversation.

So. Before we go into the questions, this is how, you know, we’ve got 10 questions. It’s very light hearted. So please sit back and relax. My name is Charles James and welcome to Cyber Glass Ceiling. Shweta, how are you?

Shweta Gupta: Good. Nice sunny day. So been pretty good.

Charles James: So far. Yeah. You’re sure? I’ve caught a bit of rain walking down the street and I was thinking, Oh no, not today.

Even though I still have my shades, but not today. Right. So we’re going to get into it. But before we do, tell us about yourself.

Shweta Gupta: I’m Shweta Gupta. I am currently working as a Global Transformation Manager in IT with Deutsche Bank. I have lived in a couple of different countries and I started my journey from India and then moved into Singapore, have run a And worked with large companies usually banking and finally I moved over here with Deutsche Bank a couple of years back, actually, in 2018.

So we’re gonna get into it. We’re gonna get into it.

Charles James: So question one, what was your first ever job?

Shweta Gupta: So my very first job was premature when I was nine years old and I wanted to teach someone who hadn’t had access to education. And I tried to find an… Find an unwilling candidate, but that didn’t work out too well.

Later on, I think when I was around 13 years old, I hosted an event at a school fair. So this was a basic requirement from everybody who was at the school and who was around 13 or 14 year old that they host an event and organize something for charity. And we were supposed to earn money for charity.

Charles James: This was back in India.

Shweta Gupta: This was back in India.

Charles James: Okay. Whereabouts in India?

Shweta Gupta: I’m from Delhi. And that’s where I did my school.

Charles James: Busy place.

Shweta Gupta: A very busy place. Small homes and a lot of people who are struggling to come up.

Charles James: Understood.

Shweta Gupta: So I have two other sisters and in a very similar way, most of my friends were also not financially very well off, but many children and the costs were always going high, so we decided to set up something with the minimal cost and we Ended up reusing our basketball setup that was existing in school.

And we set up a a booth where the parents could come in and try to dunk the basketball . Everybody would be given five chances and if anybody won, there would be gifted, a little token, which would be a. pen or something, which was only around five pence at that point we actually calculated probabilities of how people would be able to win and we wanted to invest very little.

All that we wanted to offer was our blood, sweat and tears. So we came up with the idea of giving the gifts away for like five pence. And also we came up with the idea that perhaps the biggest value. of running a booth like this was one, of course, you had very little cost investment because you’re reusing the setup that already exists, but also most of the parents would be able to relive their childhood.

And the parents are the one who would be giving the money, investing in any of the games, right? So that those are the people that we wanted to invest and focus on. My learning from that time, well, we actually ended up profiting almost 12 times over our initial investment. And my learning from that time is to figure out what is the cost versus the value hardly who are your customers, who are your real customers and trying to do more with very little.

Charles James: Understood. Very good. And that was when you were 13 years old?

Shweta Gupta: Yes.

Charles James: Ah, so you can learn the lessons quick. And it’s like, ah, okay. And what attracted you to the world of IT? How did you get into it?

Shweta Gupta: Pretty much around the same time, I would say the schools had started setting up computer science as a subject.

And my very first encounter where I got really excited about it was when we… created the snake game, which you could already see in the mobile, but that ability to create something out of pretty much nothing was what really attracted me to it.

Charles James: Oh, I see. Did you get a degrees and certifications and, you know,

Shweta Gupta: Yes. So I after my schooling, I I went to study computer science and engineering. That’s my undergrad. And along with it, I also did at the same time Microsoft certified professionals, CCNAs, and some of the things which were very, very in at that point.

Charles James: Yeah, I’m also a Microsoft MCP.

Shweta Gupta: Okay.

Charles James: Back in the day.

Shweta Gupta: Now the word doesn’t sound very nice, but yes, back in the day we used to call ourselves MCPs.

Charles James: Absolutely. So yeah, I feel your pain with Microsoft yeah, I can’t remember, I think I did Microsoft for about 10 years. I was doing the software licensing and software set management side of it made my brain bleed.

So it was like, yeah, let’s go into cyber security cause it’s much more fun. But again, brilliant. Now, do you remember that first interview when you could sense they were judging you? Who is this person? Why does she want this job? Why should we give this lady a job type type scenario?

Shweta Gupta: Well, so immediately after I graduated, I started looking for a job, and with all these brilliant qualifications, I went to a company which was recruiting for technology.

They looked at me and ultimately they offered me a job of copywriter to just write the jingles. And I obviously had to turn it down because in spite of looking at all my qualifications and the awards that I had been winning so far, they could not recognize that there is somebody. On the other side who can actually probably code and help them out with a whole lot of other things.

I ended up obviously not taking that job and I was able to go through another company and The funny part was that the other company, which is Infosys Technologies was recruiting without looking at the faces. So they would run the interviews as games that you could get through. And that’s, that’s how I got my first real job.

Charles James: At Infosys.

Shweta Gupta: Correct.

Charles James: Yeah. No, well. Very good. And there you are, you’re, you’re, you’re, you’re at Infosys or, or you’re at another one of your companies that you got a job at and you’re working and you’re doing your darn good job and you, you know, that being recognized for your talents and recognized for your skills.

But yeah, you know, there’s a guy or somebody else. Is not as skilled or not as, you know, performing as well as you do and is that scenario come across? Have you come across that scenario a couple of times where someone who’s not that qualified gets that senior job?

Shweta Gupta: Yeah. So this is going back a couple of years, but we were at that time probably standing at the hem of recession and There was a major reshuffle in my organization at the time.

I was already recognized as one of the senior candidates and the most experienced, and I was also being sent over to the leadership training opportunities. However, when the time came for promotion, there was one other person in the team, and the promotion was given to him. And the reason that was given to me was that that individual had a family and they had to take care of the family because he was a man.

So this didn’t go down too well. However, because it was the time for recession, I had to swallow the pill at that time. But immediately after we started coming out of the recession, I was headhunted and I was able to get onto a job which was making me almost double of what I was.

Charles James: Good. And again, it, it leads to the whole reason why we’re here understanding how you break that cycle of, oh, just because you’re a woman.

Even though you’ve got great qualifications, but we’re going to give it to this guy over here because that’s, that’s an interesting one. He has a family. We all have family. You know, I’ve, I’ve got four kids, three grandkids and you know, everyone is looking after. So yeah, that’s a difficult one to swallow.

But again, when one door closes, another one opens up and like I said, you, you know, doubled what, what you do, what you’re doing there. So very good. Now I’ve got one more question and then I’m going to go for a quick break. But this, this is an interesting one because you are a leader in, in the workplace.

And if you’ve seen a shift in, let’s say people like yourself, people, women of color at the top table, are you influential in setting diversity goals within the business?

Shweta Gupta: I have definitely seen a shift now, especially after COVID, a lot more. Women as well as people of color are starting to join the organizations.

You see them a lot more definitely in banking and banking technology. We’ve set up a couple of organizations like DB Bolts. Which look after black leadership. There’s also other goals that Deutsche Bank is pushing for, which is like 35 by 25, having 35 percent women by 2025. And you can see some changes coming through.

A lot of times, though, the pipeline has to be built over time. And so you can see a lot of these things happening at the grassroots level, but it may take a little bit more time for these to. Have a real impact.

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Charles James: And welcome back. Again, just so everyone knows this is a Shweta Gupta Who’s the the VP of it for deutsche bank. We’re gonna get straight back into it now this sort of aligns to the questions. I I asked earlier about When you, you saw that person get promoted way above you, but again, now you’re at that leadership, leadership position.

The biggest bugbear I, I, I can probably touch, see, know what you’re going to say, but You know, you’re in a room and it’s normally full of suits. How can I put it nicely? One of my bugbears is that people look through you they don’t recognize you and I don’t know when you meet with different people outside the company and they don’t know who you are, has that ever sort of happened?

Shweta Gupta: So what would normally happen is probably quite similar to what you mentioned, that they wouldn’t acknowledge you as a woman. And maybe we are sitting on a table of five or six people and people would automatically assume that you’re a junior person and start talking to the other people and not even engage.

And that’s, that’s the concern. If you would talk and if you would want to have a conversation, we could probably come up to a better understanding of each other’s careers and our qualifications, but most of the people would not even engage. And that’s, that’s the, that’s a key concern.

Charles James: Okay. And that still happens today?

Shweta Gupta: It does occasionally, or I wouldn’t say that it is very common, but it definitely happens.

Charles James: Okay, okay. Now, I know you’re not in cyber security that much we do know, because you say, no, we’re not in cyber security, but some of the challenges. that keeps you awake at night. So we don’t need to look at the threat landscape and talk about that.

But some of the challenges that you faced and we, we spoke about, or my thought is around COVID and the fact that I was engaged with a company. Pre COVID they’re an insurance company and literally overnight about 80 percent of the workforce had to work from home. And that was a challenge in itself.

Because yeah, you still had 20 percent hot desk and stuff like that. So When we talk about hybrid working, how, how have you sort of coped with that from a technical, level of the bank?

Shweta Gupta: So this is quite interesting because a lot of people who are working in technology have always been hybrid.

So even in Singapore, we started trialling hybrid working back in 2008, right? So, There isn’t too much of an issue with that. In fact, what I think is that a lot of times these hybrid working opportunities allow you access to have to spend more time with your children, or if someone is disabled, they are able to work in spite of all, instead of coming into the offices.

So that helps them. However, from security perspective, I think more important is that we start recognizing the threats that are available and the shapes that they are available in, the threats are available in, are very hard to differentiate anymore. I get emails That would look like they are coming in from my internal Microsoft Teams these days, but if you click on them, you realize that they are probably from a untrustworthy source.

Charles James: Bad actors. We like to call them bad actors, yeah?

Shweta Gupta: Exactly and I’ve been I’ve also been receiving similar kind of things on WhatsApps, and apart from that you always have the concerns about deepfakes, ransomware so all of these things are definitely out there at the moment, and those are the things that In spite of the person working within a company, or you, you can’t really control a lot of these things.

Charles James: No, yeah, in the old days they used to call it the perimeter. And if you’re in the office, it can be managed. It can be, okay, what’s coming through the firewall, we can do that. But of course, with hybrid working, that’s all changed. It’s like, well, okay, who are we giving access to what? And are they allowed to have that access?

And again, in the banking world, I don’t know if there’s too many different departments that have to have everything with the applications. And, and I suppose what I’m, what I’m thinking of is you don’t have. Sort of sort of holiday workers come in or temps that come in sometimes you do I don’t know and it’s like do these guys get the same access as somebody else Are they are they skilled enough or have knowledge about the threats that are out there?

So they’re not going to click on that that link that says this is from should we to go up to oh But but check that you know stuff like that.

Shweta Gupta: I think the concern is not about managing the access, because that is something that is very strongly built into banking. Managing access of different applications, ensuring that you’re using SSOs you know authentication at multiple levels.

That’s something that we do very well, but that’s… It’s, it’s the human element where people are unable to differentiate because these threats are becoming too real and it’s very hard to differentiate what’s. a good email, or what is the good communication versus what is a bad communication. Somebody could try and pretend and send you an email from something which looks like it is coming in through internally.

For example, instead of sending something from db. com, they might say dbint. com, for example, and you wouldn’t know. And even as an experienced person, you may not have enough capabilities to know about it unless you work in the area of cyber security. And that’s, that’s where I get more concerned.

Charles James: From a customer element as well, we’d like the sort of CIM We know that, you know, the financial industry is heavily regulated anyway. So but more and more customers need that ease of use to access their accounts and whatever. And the bad actors are, again knocking on those doors and say, no, yeah, we’re from DB, we noticed there’s a some unusual things on your account click here and all of a sudden, you know, they’re into it as well. And like I said, if you’re not in this game of cyber security and you’re not up to speed with it, it’s very difficult to, to manage and control. Luckily if it’s a customer and they do get let’s say that funds taken there’s a way to get the money back.

So we’re happy with that. On that, what practical cyber security advice would you give to your family? Or friends, looking to, looking at the landscape as it is.

Shweta Gupta: Let them know that there’s no free lunches. Do not get into the quick rid schemes and click on something that promises you 50, 000 coming through.

Yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s very hard, especially because some of my folks are rather old. And… They may not be able to differentiate these the bad actors from the good actors. And that’s, that’s the thing that I want to ensure that they are aware that do not accept or click on the links from the people that you are not known to.

Charles James: That’s zero trust I’m from Luton and I have a saying, trust nobody and nothing unless you’re expecting it. So again, especially for sort of older listeners and older folk, it’s like, Oh, there’s a parcel being delivered. Click on this link and you go, well, I haven’t ordered anything. And you know, you haven’t ordered anything, but even in your head, you’re like, did I not sure.

And so it is very difficult to sort of even make sure that. Us as, as normal younger people don’t do that. So it might, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a whole world out there and it’s a real pain in the backside.

Shweta Gupta: Think in a couple of days there will be no such thing as a surprise birthday party.

Charles James: Indeed. So couple of questions left now, this is an interesting one because your, your journey from Delhi, Singapore, London. It’s, it’s a great story. What advice would you give your younger self who’s at a basketball court giving away a pen for five free shots?

Shweta Gupta: I think a couple of things first is obviously keep learning and stay relevant. But also look for the right platforms to showcase your skills and the harsh reality of it as a minority candidate is that sometimes these come in the form of challenges, something that everybody has said no to, and you would have to just get down and get it done.

So don’t say no to difficult challenges. Look at them as opportunities. Secondly. Pick your battles carefully and find a constructive outlist for your frustrations. Judge carefully if something is really worth fighting over. You know, one of the things that was mentioned to me was, you know you’re doing something right when someone chooses to comment on how you dress rather than what you do.

And I think that’s something that we should probably try and remember. And then Finally, I think make sure you’re supporting other minority candidates. A lot of people seem to have a zero sum thinking, and they assume that there’s, there are limited jobs available, but we know that this area, especially in cyber security and deep tech, and a lot of other technology areas are growing, and there is still a large skill gap.

So, train yourself and also pass it forward. Your competition is much larger than someone else who looks exactly like you.

Charles James: Fantastic advice. Really good advice. Finally, what do you do for fun and where do you see yourself in five years from now?

Shweta Gupta: So many things for fun. I box, I hike, I travel. And I also some, one of my bosses used to say that I have a dual life because I do like to go out, dance and party.


Five years from now. So, long back, I remember saying when somebody asked me, somebody who was very senior than me in the organization, where do I see myself five years from now? And I remember asked answering him maybe having a job. And I now see the futility of making such comments.

I think the ladder is the one that you want to create for yourself. So for me, I have now lived in a couple of different countries, and I see myself as a person who can deliver a lot of global global things. Global projects. I still want to keep on learning, hopefully, a lot more about cyber security, but also AI is one of my key fields of interest and hopefully make an, make a bigger impact on the world.

On the side, I also want to make sure that I am doing something which is very close to my heart including, sorry Ensuring that I’m investing my time into diversity and inclusion. I have started my role as a governor at one of the schools and hoping that I can keep on having an input, keep on having an impact in that area as well.

Charles James: We’re done. Shweta Gupta, Vice President of IT for Deutsche Bank. Thank you for coming in.

Shweta Gupta: Thank you for having me.

Charles James: Not a problem.


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