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Women in Industry: Prianka Nandy

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Category: impact Video duration: Women in Industry: Prianka Nandy

Since 1921, Virginia Tech has seen thousands of trailblazing women make their mark on the world, transforming industries and shattering glass ceilings. Prianka Nandy ’02 is making her mark in the technology industry where she serves as the chief information and technology officer for Special Olympics.

When Virginia Tech's orientation came around in 1998, Prianka Nandy went in with one idea and left with another. "I went in with the intention of being like bio, pre-med, that kind of background and totally that wasn't my bag at all. So I arrived at orientation with I'm going to change my major during orientation, which I did." Born in Calcutta where she witnessed extreme poverty, Prianka decided to pursue computer science as a way to help others. "I always wanted to just use technology to help a mission, really. My job is to focus on, and I knew this, was to focus on how do I get technology into the hands of people who can benefit from it, who otherwise do not or could not. So this was global, picking global missions. And so my search was really about where do I find the global mission, where the beneficiaries are in some of the most challenging environments, lowest economic, socioeconomic conditions, didn't have access to all things that I grew up having access to." She landed at Special Olympics in the midst of a global pandemic. "That's everything from making sure people have computers to work from home all the way to the software and mobile apps that we develop, to the data strategy that we have for the org." As the Chief Information and Technology Officer for an organization that relies on in-person events for its athletes, Prianka's role was critical. "We have hundreds of thousands of events that are happening globally where our athletes with intellectual and developmental disabilities are playing on a field with sometimes our unified partners who do not have IDD. And so not having those in-person connections was a big loss for us." It meant not only learning how to work remotely like the rest of the world, but finding ways to use technology and getting creative with programming to maintain the mission. "So this was using technology in a very different way, which is virtual connection. Virtual activities. I'm making sure we didn't lose athletes. It's also how do we engage our stakeholders and our constituents, make it easier for them to be part of the movement using digital and also encouraging growth in the movement using digital." The organization held Zoom workouts and developed a fitness app to keep athletes moving. Lessons learned out of necessity will now be normal moving forward. "We now can integrate digital in our build back process, right? And that includes basically ensuring that there's a way to keep that integrated virtual experience part of how we do things in future. In the past we've never had that capability."