With over 20 years of experience at some of the world’s most recognizable brands, Rathi Murthy has an expansive career in technology. As the Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer here at Gap Inc., she is passionate about inspiring others by sharing the lessons she’s learned throughout her career. We sat down with her to learn more about her career journey, how she got to the top of her game in a field typically dominated by men, and what it’s like to be a woman in tech.
As a female leader in technology, how have you navigated your career to get where you are today?
Luckily, I can say that throughout my career, men have been wonderful allies, and have positively influenced my career growth. While there were times in my career when I was the only woman at the table, I never let that hamper my determination or my ideas. And outside of that, I’ve had men who were wonderful sponsors and champions for me that helped introduce me to new opportunities and experiences. I realize that’s not always the case, and often, it’s on us as women to find those opportunities ourselves, which isn’t always easy, but it’s definitely necessary.
But that’s one of the biggest reasons why I invest time now in mentoring others. I want to be that resource for them. I want to be that person that helps make connections to new opportunities. The advice I would give to women working in categories where they’re the minority today, is to seek out both female and male sponsors who can help you grow and advocate for you. It’s less about gender and more about making as many valuable connections as possible. You never know where a conversation with someone will lead you (or your career).
You’ve been at Gap Inc. for over a year now. What originally drew you to join this organization?
It’s always been important to me to work at companies that not only match my personal career goals, but also reflect my personal values as well. This is absolutely the case with Gap Inc. We have a strong history of commitment to diversity. Our founders, Doris and Don Fisher, started the business as equals, and established a culture of equality that continues today. We were also the first Fortune 500 Company to announce equal pay. That really resonated with me. We’re industry leaders when it comes to equal pay, and I can’t say enough how important that is.
From a technology standpoint, I also saw that Gap Inc. is an organization that has a lot of opportunity to take on new challenges. Retail is going through such rapid digital transformation right now, and it’s really exciting to have the opportunity to be a part of that, and be at an organization that has the power and scale to influence the future of so many iconic brands that reach so many different people. Honestly, that’s why it’s so important for us to have diverse technology teams who can really understand and empathize with our diverse customers. We’re going to deliver the best experiences for our customers, only if we truly understand them and have teams that represent who our customers are.
You’re a very active leader in diversity technology circles. Why do you feel like it’s important for women to support each other?
Women can be incredibly powerful when we come together and encourage one another, and I’m excited to see so many new resources and programs created for women in our field. If we want to see more diversity in our industry, it’s also important that we inspire the next generation. That’s why we partner with organizations like Girls in Tech to help advance the conversation of women and minorities in technology, and encourage young women to pursue STEM careers. We’ve also set the goal for ourselves that half of our summer student interns will be women, so we’re increasing our pipeline of diverse candidates from the very beginning.
How are you raising your voice or the voices of others to help make a difference in the issues that matter to you?
I try and stay active in the areas that matter to me. For instance, I’ve supported other female voices in the tech field by appearing on Women in Tech podcasts, speaking at our own Gap Inc. Women in Leadership Business Resource Group events, and judging Girls in Tech pitch competitions. I am also looking forward to being a keynote speaker for the Girls in Tech Catalyst Conference in June, which is dedicated to empowering women in STEM.
If you could go back to the first few years of your career give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
I would say don’t be afraid to speak up. The best opportunities come when you raise your hand and share your ideas.