Sakshi Sachdev on being fueled by challenges in the technical realm
When Sakshi Sachdev joined Adobe 22 years ago, little did she know then that Adobe would be the perfect partner for her, meeting her in the middle of her accelerating graph!
Her stint at Adobe India began when she joined as a university graduate. From being a wary individual contributor to senior director of engineering, her journey has been one of creating, ideating, and solving.
We met up with Sakshi to find out what motivates her to work alongside a team, leading them, guiding them, and fueling them with the same ethos she was encouraged and taught.
How would you describe your journey at Adobe?
In one phrase – An amazing trek! I joined as a campus graduate back in 2000 and worked on Acrobat Version 5. These 22 years have given me innumerable opportunities that have led to my personal and professional growth. Interestingly, I did not think I would be here for long when I joined. Everyone starts with a milestone in their mind, and once achieved, they move on. Likewise, I kept thinking of moving out once I had 'made my mark.' I wanted to try my hand at something unrelated or beyond the scope of core tech. However, Adobe kept me interested in the journey through their most supportive ecosystem – and a large part of it was the people who work here.
I was more than content being an individual contributor for over ten years but a leader like Abhigyan Modi, Adobe India’s country manager, pushed me to step out of my comfort zone and go from an individual creator to a leader. He gave me a challenge that was not conducive for one human to complete. I had to form a team to achieve the goals we set. Working with people allowed me to explore this new trajectory, which was a great learning experience. I had to ideate a vision, and together, we had to find a solution, which we did, after burning the midnight oil for many a night.
How has a tech career been for you at Adobe? What helped you make a mark for yourself here?
First off, it feels great to work for a brand with products that is adored by millions around the world. When I joined Adobe, there was this sheer joy of being with a brand I loved. Resonating with the brand is pivotal, as that influences what you are building and allows you to grow with the challenges.
The desire to be a part of a culture where core values aligned – being genuine, exceptional, innovative, and involved – pushed me to be the best at what I do. I invested in my personal growth and individual learning to ensure I kept ahead of tech advances in my domain. I also dove deep into Adobe’s mission, which helped me chart my own course and find a niche for myself.
The unwavering support of my seniors, colleagues, and the leadership lessons imparted also helped me figure out my strengths and weaknesses.
What leadership lessons have you learned at Adobe?
I know what gives me joy and I know where Adobe’s mission lies. I have discovered my personal formula which brings out the best for both.
It is essential to know the 'why' in life. Why do you do what you do! Knowing who you are and what makes you happy will help you grow successfully in life. And when you are happy and passionate about doing something, you will excel. This is the kind of leader I aspire to be, and this is how I want to grow professionally. Adobe met me in the middle of my aspirational graph, I too aspire to meet my team in the middle and help them grow individually while contributing to the team’s goals.
It is vital that you coach, mentor, and groom your second in line and give them challenges and opportunities to be visible. When your teammates rise, they lift you up as well. A natural leader helps chart the course and then identifies opportunities for their team. This is the kind of leader I aspire to be.
“It is essential to know the 'why' in life. Why do you do what you do! Knowing who you are and what makes you happy will help you grow successfully in life. And when you are happy and passionate about doing something, you will excel.”
Who or what inspires you?
Changing lives and seeing a tangible result is highly satisfying. I would like to call out two people in my life who have pushed me to excel, and I am deeply appreciative of them.
Without my manager, Abhigyan Modi, I would have been content being an individual contributor and missed out on the opportunity to lead teams. I am in awe of his diligence and devotion to work. It is energizing to see the amount he can pack in a day and still appear zestful. His ability to contextualize and operate calmly is something I try to learn and emulate.
My husband, Arjun, is a role model to our child and me. He, too, works with Adobe and is genuinely happy innovating. He derives endless joy from what he does, which speaks a lot about the work ethos here at Adobe. He has created inflection points in his career graph by being true to his passions and bringing others along the journey.
What advice do you have for those willing to join leadership roles here?
"Don't overthink it." If we select you, it is because we have faith in you. We trust your capabilities, and we ask you to trust us. You need to realize what makes you tick and then make the best of every challenge that you face. The journey will be challenging, but we will be there to guide you in the right direction. Whatever support is required, the Adobe ecosystem is more than happy to provide.
There is an incident that comes to my mind. As part of a leadership exercise, I was asked to articulate my mission statement. The intent was to hone prioritization skills by listing out only the imperatives. While drafting my statement, I covered key focus areas for my team and my customers. When I shared the draft with my coach, the feedback I received was - where is your family? I have a young son who needs my attention and a husband who is my partner personally and professionally. Can I really succeed at work without including their happiness in my imperatives? Just this one empathetic line reiterated my love for Adobe. It gave me room to breathe, and that support has been pivotal to my success.
What motivates you to stay at Adobe?
What keeps me here is the expanse of what is yet to be accomplished. As long as I can see mountains yet to be climbed, I will enjoy being here. Flat plains scare me. A mundane routine existence is not what I am made for, so I need to visualize the rocky climb to remain motivated.
I'm a creator – I need to create things. Adobe keeps that spark alive in me. It allows me to do what I care about, something I will not find anywhere else. I have created programs that were starkly different from engineering but resonated with my core values. My manager always welcomed them and let me explore my creativity.
Education is very close to my heart, so I helped create a program with a Noida-based school. Together, we worked on ways to make it more fun for the children, and it was a roaring success! During the pandemic, we helped children continue with their studies by collecting funds through Adobe's volunteering programs. We also distributed mobile phones and tablets to children of Adobe's support staff. These initiatives gave me a sense of personal fulfilment. Having the steady support of Adobe gives me the platform to execute my ideas.
Adobe invests in its people and opens endless possibilities to shine in their careers. It is a highly supportive environment where you can stretch, learn, and navigate a tremendous professional pathway for yourself. Adobe gave me the space to be a stress-free mom when I became a mother. It is the minor things that matter most in life. The provision of parental leave, providing a mother's room, parking slots for pregnant women, and simple facilities to make it easier for new mothers to resume work post-pregnancy are all factors distinguishing Adobe from other organizations.
As a woman tech leader, the safety net that Adobe created for me allows me to continue my stint with a smile. In a nutshell, I know Adobe has always got my back and all I need to do is to reach out.