This week’s profile features an interview with Sree Pattabiraman. She grew up in India, where she got a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce with a specialization in Corporate Secretaryship from M.O.P. Vaishnav College for Women, Chennai, India before finding her way to the Raleigh area, where she pursued her Master’s Degree in Technical and Scientific Communication at NC State University. Currently, she is a Technical Writer at Extreme Networks.
Sree joined the Society for Technical Communication and our STC Carolina Chapter in late summer 2015, which I’ve been on the Admin Council of, but I first remember really talking to her in September 2016. I’d written a blog about my personal story leaning in. She complimented me for sharing my story and then I saw her own blogging about networking, tech comm, and various things. I was impressed. Sree seemed like a really cool lady. Little did I know what a neat story she had.
- Sree, I’m always curious about this: What did you want to be when you “grew up” and how has that evolved?
The very first time I was passionate about a profession was when I was around 14 years old. I wanted to be a fashion designer. It was the time when I was really into designing and sketching. But, a few years down the lane, my priorities changed. I took business majors in college and was pretty involved with it until I was given the post of Media and Public Relations Director for the Entrepreneurship Club at my university. That’s when I started developing an interest for writing and became serious about making a career out of it. When I graduated, I landed a job as a Technical Writer, which was still relatively a very new term and line of profession for me. My passion deepened when I started realizing how interesting my job was. I loved the fact that I could learn something new on every project. As of now, my interests are strong-rooted with Tech Comm and I continue to explore the various avenues within it.
- What do you do in your “day job” now and why have you chosen that?
I am currently a Technical Writer. I primarily specialize on coming up with hardware documentation ranging from quick start guides to command line interface reference books. I love doing what I do because I love helping people. Not only do I find each document unique in its own way, I also enjoy the fact that I learn so much new everyday with respect to hardware products.
- How happy have you been with your choices along the way?
I have definitely had my dull moments but overall, I have been very happy with my choices. I go with the mantra of “Be Spontaneous.”
- With all that learning, what are your best sources for learning?
My top choices are online portals (websites for learning) and blog posts, especially when you have relatable work situations and experiences shared by people. Since I am a visual person, I learn better when I am able to see and try things out practically. I resort to books when I want to research in-depth into a topic. I also learn a lot by going to meetups. But, as the proverb goes, “Experience is the best teacher” and I agree with it. I have learnt a lot from things I experience at work everyday. I am a very visual person and real-life examples have proven to be life lessons!
- What do you devote most of your time to “outside of work?”
I spend most of my evenings cooking. I am very passionate about it and cooking is my “gym” if I can say so. My mind and body coordinate the best when I start cooking! I also spend a lot of time exploring new restaurants and trying new cuisines. One of the things that I picked up in 2016 is devoting more time to paint. I am currently learning how to do traditional form of intricate Indian folk art/painting style called “Madhubani”. Apart from that, I love going on small hikes and treks in and around where I live. I am also involved in going for Meetups a few times a month and as and when time permits.
- How do you feel most inspired?
By surrounding myself with like-minded and enthusiastic people. I love being in a positive environment and looking at people stand by their passion makes me happy and inspired. I learn from each and every person I meet.
- What causes and organizations are you most passionate about?
I am a great believer of Education for All. No child should lose out on having access to education. I always try my best to encourage people to keep learning. I am also trying to get involved in raising funds for donating for Breast Cancer Research Institute in India. There are so many people in both urban and rural India who do not have access to specialized breast cancer treatments and medicines. There is also a lack of awareness at many places. Although I am not completely in campaigning for this cause yet, I definitely look forward to dedicate more of my time towards it this year.
- Who do you look up to?
I look up to my mom. She is my biggest inspiration in life. She is friendly and kind towards everyone. Not a day goes by where she doesn’t inspire me. I have never seen her lose her cool or be negative even in the most testing times. I still have so much more to learn from her! If I even turn out to be half as strong, energetic, motivating, selfless, and positive as she is, I will consider that an achievement.
- What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced?
My biggest challenge yet professionally is trying to choose what area I would want to specialize in. I am still at a point where I am already specializing in hardware documentation but I am constantly at a war with myself to outdo my past achievements. Sometimes, I find it very consuming since I want to learn it all in over night! I am always in a rush to learn more which sometimes scares me that I am missing out on what I am learning in the present. So, I am trying to make sure that I take it all in and take it a phase that doesn’t pave way for hasty decisions.
- Best and worst advice you’ve ever received?
– Best advice: Be sincere and true to your conscience, no matter what you do.
-Worst advice: You should really be doing CPA and looking after your dad’s business.
Sree is passionate about the Chennai Breast Cancer Research Foundation and supports:
- Silicon Valley Foundation Sri Dhanvantri Trust, whose mission is: To give women the most comprehensive and compassionate breast health care by placing state-of-the-art technology in the hands of expert breast healthcare doctors and staff with a commitment to research with a prevent, care, and cure approach.
- Penn Nalam Hospital Women’s Cancer Care Center, A Specialty for Cancer Prevention & Screening
Thanks for reading Sree’s story. Share in the comments how it impacted you or share it on social media. Check out next week’s weekly post on Women & the Ways We Work. Missed the others? Take a look at my blog to read the others. Know someone you think should be featured? Can I help you or your organization with a storytelling project? Contact me and let’s chat.