5 min. read

Leading by Example

3 Tech Leaders Share their Challenges Turned into Triumphs

On April 30th, we joined forces with Delivery Hero for a special tech leadership event.

We welcomed 50 Senior Managers and 3 speakers as they delved into their journeys and shared their experiences of overcoming challenges to emerge as more effective leaders. 

Meet the speakers:

Aditi Sodhi
Director of Engineering at Delivery Hero

Aditi has predominantly worked at the intersection of mathematics and technology, focusing on solving consumer and enterprise issues. Over the past few years, she has taken on leadership roles within tech teams, spearheading developing and delivering top-notch software solutions, spanning from microservices to responsive user interfaces and automation-focused machine learning models.

Aditi’s passion lies in problem-solving, driven by a strong desire for continuous learning, which fuels her enthusiasm for collaborating with talented individuals on challenging problems.

Sérgio Laranjeira
CTO at Metacore

Sérgio is passionate about engineering management, leadership and software delivery. He strives to make a meaningful impact on organisations by delivering exceptional experiences to both internal and external customers. In parallel, he’s deeply committed to the cause of Diversity and Inclusion and believes that fostering inclusion is not just a moral imperative but also a strategic advantage. He actively works to create inclusive workplaces, promotes D&I at various industry events, and drives recruitment activities that promote diversity. He dedicates his time to working with people, building a culture where individuals can be themselves and bringing great results to the business. Currently working at developing new exciting games at Metacore.

Bhuvana Vijayan
Director of Engineering at Zenjob 

Bhuvana has been working in Tech for over two decades and has held leadership positions at some of the biggest tech giants in the world including Google, and Zalando. A mother of three, Bhuvana says “Equality starts at home” and that she teaches her boys to judge someone based on their capabilities. Bhuvana advocates for true inclusion in all fields and supports and mentors women and underrepresented groups. She believes that diversity and inclusion are essential for driving innovation and progress.

Get to know their insights below:

There’s nothing permanent except change.– Aditi Sodhi

In Aditi’s career, emotions have played a significant role in shaping up her leadership style. She has encountered situations where she suppressed her emotions and regretted not expressing herself. She raised some questions and instances to the audience where she asked how the audience would react. One of the instances was crying in a work setup and how it’s ok to do so and how to articulate your thoughts verbally.

Aditi wanted to find ways to articulate herself verbally but still be authentic in her role. She shared 2 scenarios with us that put this to the test. During a company event some time ago, while leading a meeting with her team, a senior colleague remarked, “You should smile more often”. The audience shared with Aditi as they considered her options to:

– Ignore the comment

– Trying to smile more

– Choosing not to react outwardly but reflect on the situation

– Feel drained by the experience

Aditi chose to speak up, providing feedback to initiate change. This wasn’t an isolated incident; she sometimes found herself overlooked during interviews or when new employees joined, with attention directed solely towards men. Patience and perseverance were key strategies that consistently yielded results in such situations.

Aditi believes in the constant evolution of change and accepts that mistakes are part of growth. Being a Woman in Tech involves embracing change, advocating for progress, and maintaining patience and persistence and most importantly speaking up.

Key takeaways: 

– Don’t be afraid to make mistakes

– Be your true authentic self

– Be patient and stubborn

“As leaders, we must constantly evolve and change. We don’t always know what’s going to happen. We have the obligation to be there for our team and it’s important to be flexible and ready for change –whatever that may be” –Sérgio Laranjeira

In his presentation on building resilience, Sérgio shared an example that began with a daunting challenge: proposing a radical idea to senior leaders as a newcomer in Zalando. Transitioning to the role of Practice Lead in May 2016 was part of a major reorganisation known as “Radical Agility”. However, six months into the role, the initial enthusiasm was gone and several challenges emerged, including a lack of accountability and understanding of diverse practices.

Despite mixed sentiments within the team, Sérgio believed that the ‘Practice Leadership’ structure was obsolete, prompting discussions with Senior Tech Leadership. Confronted with the task of advocating for change, Sérgio shared with us how he navigated uncharted territory with courage and determination. Preparation became key, seeking allies and engaging with dissenting voices to refine the proposal. Through meticulous documentation and iterative revisions, Sérgio emerged prepared, ultimately succeeding in implementing change. 

Reflecting on this experience, Sérgio embraced the reality of evolving roles and unforeseen challenges, emphasising the importance of flexibility and readiness for change. This inspiring narrative underscores the necessity of resilience amidst uncertainty, affirming the value of adaptability and commitment to growth.

Key takeaways: 

– Aim High
Even in moments that might not seen as potential growth, you can always achieve greatness

– Be conscious
You lead teams, departments, companies, caring for all your people is hard and being conscious that change will come and will be needed.

– Stay strong
People look for inspiring leadership able to motivate them in the hardest moments, this is the time for leadership to lead by example. 

“We must accept that biases exist and it is our responsibility to deal with them as leaders.” –Bhuvana Vijayan

Bhuvana focused her talk on how to transform performance reviews to empower women in the workplace. Bhuvana, a firm believer that diversity begins at home, addressed the critical issue of ensuring women are portrayed positively and fairly within performance evaluations.

Central to Bhuvana’s discourse was the impact of biases on career growth and success. She highlighted a successful project that exposed pervasive double standards in attributing traits, for example,  if a woman succeeds, her success may be attributed to luck, collaboration with different members or external factors, while if she fails, it may be attributed directly to lack of ability or effort.  This disparity not only influences reviews but can deeply impact career trajectories.

Bhuvana acknowledged the need to confront existing biases within our societal norms, and she quoted “assertiveness is the bridge between passive compliance and aggressive dominance”. It is essential to recognise our role in challenging and reshaping perceptions. 

Key to navigating biases, Bhuvana advocated for clear and assertive communication during performance reviews. It’s essential to build a compelling narrative around achievements, focusing on objective outcomes rather than conforming to stereotypical attributes. Listening actively and responding thoughtfully can uncover underlying biases and lead to fairer evaluations. Call out specific behaviour and talk about how it made you feel in order to be constructive in your feedback.

Simplifying the review process was also emphasised. Bhuvana cautioned against overcomplicating assessments with unnecessary details. Instead, she advocated for a straightforward approach—asking and answering fundamental questions about performance with clarity and purpose.

In essence, Bhuvana’s insights underscored the importance of reshaping performance reviews to promote inclusivity and equity. By challenging biases and adopting clear communication strategies, we can create a workplace culture where women are celebrated for their talents and contributions. 

Key takeaways: 

Understand biases, recognise them, and then act on them.

Communicate: Be assertive, Be objective, Connect the dots and build a narrative

– Listen, acknowledge, then respond – some mechanisms to use are:

Take notes so you can paraphrase and summarise your understanding

Clarify, reflect and gather data/info

Respond to the point with specific examples



Collectively, all narratives weave a tapestry of empowerment and growth. They remind us of the importance of authenticity, resilience, and advocacy in overcoming obstacles and effecting positive change. As we navigate our own journeys, let us draw inspiration from Aditi, Sérgio, and Bhuvana’s stories, embracing challenges as opportunities for growth and transformation in our professional and personal lives.

Visit Delivery Hero’s career page to explore opportunities in tech.

We all want the same thing: more diversity in tech.

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