[Women in STEM] Charu Noheria, Co Founder and COO, Practically

In the series of Women in STEM, Charu Noheria, CoFounder and COO, Practically answers some of the pressing questions to guide women in STEM roles.

Laxitha Mundhra
New Update
[Women in STEM] Charu Noheria, Co Founder and COO, Practically

Charu Noheria is the Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Practically. In 2018, she co-founded Practically, an experiential learning app for STEM. Even before that, she has been working to revolutionize the education landscape for the last seven years.


Charu has a bachelor’s degree in engineering (Computer Science) from RV College of Engineering, Bangalore. She also holds an MBA from the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign. Charu has over 12 years of corporate experience in operations, technology, strategy and managing global teams. She began her career as a software engineer at Samsung where she developed mobile applications. Later, she joined Lumeris Inc, a healthcare IT firm in the US, as a Strategic Leadership Development Associate. She quickly moved up the ranks to become Director-Technology Partnerships.

In the continuing series of Women in STEM, Charu answers some of the pressing questions that will help guide women in STEM roles. A role model for women pursuing STEM roles, and the founder of a STEM learning app, Charu outlines the role and need of equity in STEM leadership roles.

What are your roles in Practically? What are your immediate goals for the company?


At Practically, my role is business-facing and I oversee sales, marketing and fundraising efforts. So far our focus regions have been Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. We just entered the South and West regions specifically Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Maharashtra with a small team.

We are working on entering pan-India in clusters by the end of 2021. The team aims to add over 2000 employees by December 2021 to enable our ambitious growth plans. Further, we are also planning to enter the K-5 segment. At present, we are catering to grades 6-12. We are also looking to enter another international market by the end of the year.

Has the inclusion of Women in STEM changed over the years? How can the change be snowballed?


India has the highest percentage of women participating in the STEM segment, unlike other developed countries. Catalyst reports that 32% of Indian women are studying engineering compared to 20% in the US and 28% in the European Union. But, in India subjects like math and science are given the utmost attention. Now, it is not only essential to encourage more students to opt for science in their secondary and higher secondary but also to pursue a career in STEM. It will be crucial for the global job scenario.

Schools need to work on developing an inclusive mindset to promote the girl child’s education. The government should come forward and develop incubation hubs to support women with STEM careers. Moreover, organisations should start celebrating female icons to inspire girls to follow STEM paths. We need to curate women development programs to address the pitfalls and challenges more efficiently.

In the new normal, how are the roles of Women in Tech changing? What are the new challenges for women in tech?


Women are largely underrepresented in the male-dominated economic space in India. One needs to have loads of courage since the path to success is full of ups and downs. Balancing work and home is a continuous challenge. Thus, emotional support from family and friends plays a pivotal role in shaping the professional career of a woman. With the increased participation of women, the Indian startup ecosystem has a growing number of successful women CxOs and VCs. According to a report by Bain & Company and by Google, Indian women entrepreneurs are poised to generate 150–170 million jobs.

Keeping this in mind, we need to change our mindset and welcome women in the workforce as leaders. We need to acknowledge their creative potential and develop a supportive ecosystem to help them create successful business ventures. Organisations need to understand women’s issues and need flexible policies to bring women back from career breaks and retain them in the workplace while developing an inclusive environment. We need awareness of the roles and responsibilities of women to support them to have successful professional careers. The pandemic induced WFH scenario has demonstratively added to women’s workloads concerning managing home and career.

The impact of women in technology is undeniable. What do you think should be the ways to keep women engaged and appreciated in the workforce?


Building a truly adaptive and inclusive workplace environment will help in encouraging women to engage effectively in the workplace. In a male-dominated professional world, women always look for places where they feel encouraged, safe and appreciated for their contributions. To retain more women in the workforce, organisations need to develop a mindset amongst their employees to enable women to freely voice their ideas and acknowledge them. The innovation women bring into the workplace is undeniable. We need to create an environment for women in leadership roles.

In senior roles, how many women are on the top at Practically? What is the company doing to bring equality in genders in senior leadership roles?

At Practically, we have 30% women in senior leadership roles and 25% across the organization. We are improving this metric as we grow and also making sure at an organization level we can keep this metric to more than 30% overall. We continue to promote and encourage women within the company to take more aggressive leadership roles as at Practically. Women have demonstrated a longer tenure than their male counterparts.


We also try to make sure that every team has good women representation across all verticals namely technology, sales, marketing, customer success, content development, academic staff, and others. Women bring a unique perspective to the table. Having a balanced team improves the overall culture of the organization over time.

What should organisations do to further advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in the new hybrid workplace?

With the emergence of the pandemic, a hybrid workplace is increasingly becoming the new norm across industries. The work-from-home model has its own set of advantages and challenges. Technology is a great enabler and provides a level playing field irrespective of gender. The learning space is growing at a faster speed with a personalized curriculum. Companies are developing new solutions to engage the workforce with relevant situations.

While organisations need to come up with more flexible strategies and guidelines, leaders also need to inculcate a feeling of humility, inclusion and empathy towards their colleagues. Developing a comfort zone will be integral where employees can speak their mind, ask questions while helping employees get more exposure, expand their knowledge and disrupt preconceived notions and biases. While technology can bring this down and help in achieving career growth, emotionally intelligent and balanced leaders will lead the way.

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