Interview with Riana Patel, Senior Product Manager at Oxford VR
Riana Patel, Senior Product Manager at Oxford VR, talks to us about her passion for the intersection between tech and mental health, and the amazing diversity initiatives and statistics that Oxford VR has to offer as an employer.
What/Who inspired you to get into tech?
I was interested from a macro perspective in science and technology studies and the anthropology of technology - this led me to get more interested in the micro-level of how technology was changing society.
If you had to teach only ONE lesson based on your past experience/challenges to young women trying to get into tech, what would that lesson be?
I think learning to communicate effectively and understanding the challenges of whoever you may be communicating with is invaluable.
If you weren’t going into tech, what would you be instead - and why?
I’m very interested in psychology and would like to contribute to research in this area. I think it fits well with my current role at Oxford VR.
What attracted you to Oxford VR in the first place?
I think the vision to transform mental health for millions is ambitious and exciting. It seemed to be an excellent meeting of my interests in technology and psychology.
What do you enjoy most about your current company & role and how does it fit in with your career goals?
I enjoy the impact that the product has and am very interested in understanding how technology can fit within mental health treatments and make them more accessible.
Do you find that non-technical skills are ever helpful in your role? If so, how?
Prioritisation and communication are very helpful in my current role. At times, multiple things may be competing for time or resources so it is important to know what the impacts are and work out the best way to move forward - this involves a lot of communication.
DIVERSITY AT OXFORD VR
Do you know what percentage of women make up the Oxford VR workforce?
We have gender diversity across all levels of the company, with a a 50/50 split at the board level.
How does Oxford VR currently promote inclusivity within the workplace? Are you involved in any of these initiatives?
Within Oxford VR, there is a strong emphasis on creating an inclusive culture. This is reflected in policies such as enhanced maternity and paternity leave to challenge the notion that childcare must fall to a woman, as well as flexible working.
Are you active in any Women in Tech groups / meet-ups? If so, which ones would you recommend.
I have been on the committee of Ada’s List for the past few years and it is a really excellent global community for women in technology.
Do you think now is a good time for women to enter into the tech industry? If yes, what would you say to women who are still hesitating?
I think it is important to follow one’s curiosity even if it seems daunting at first.
Where do you see your role within the tech industry in both the short-term (say 5 years) and long-term (15 years)?
I’m very interested in the future of psychology and mental health, so hope to contribute further in the short and long term.
Have you heard of “Returnship Programmes”? Is this something you would consider doing?
I had not heard of it, but I think it would be very helpful for those who want to return to the workforce.
WOMEN IN TECH
We have all heard about the importance of different gender-friendly strategies, such as flex/remote working or allowing career breaks. What are your top three concerns as a woman in tech?
I would say: working within a diverse team, the gender pay gap, and career progression.