Discovering the joys of being an IEEE Volunteer

Discovering the joys of being an IEEE Volunteer

My journey with IEEE can be summarised in 5 words – “Discovering the joy of volunteering”

A decade back, as a mid career professional when IEEE Kochi was in its nascent stage, I was privileged to be a founding member. Little did I know then, what an incredibly fulfilling journey it would be.

Stepping up to be the Chair for Student Activities of IEEE Kerala Section was a turning point for me in 2012. I was able to see in first-hand the passion and enthusiasm the students and young professionals bring to activities. With many trials and errors along the way, I began to understand what went into organizing a good event and it laid a foundation to all of my future experiences with IEEE. I’m eternally grateful for the supportive ecosystem around me, especially senior mentors, my peers, YPs, students and extended family who guided me through the world of student activities and helped me grow ideas into memorable initiatives. A new governance system was introduced during that period and due to the great supportive system, never had to turn back.

Over the years, I’ve been lucky to volunteer in the leadership of  the section including Computer Society, Kochi Sub Section and WIE. During this time, I’m proud to brag that we achieved new levels of success with our initiatives together as a team. Some of my favourites in Computer Society includes the starting of AKCSC and Women in Computing series. Being passionate about tech and gender, I was interested especially in the areas where I can help in the issues of equity, representation, and access.  I am happy to share that I was a part of organising all major events of the section including Tensymp 2017, ILS 2018 and most prestigious Tencon 2019 among many others. The success of these events was exciting for different reasons.    

Looking back, my biggest takeaway from IEEE is that it gives you a strong network of peers, juniors and seniors passionate about technology and ready to explore it further. I got to experience the value of IEEE membership and how it upgraded my skills. In the technical arena, you are exposed to the cutting edge in your field, but the more subtle growth comes from engaging with your community and taking challenging responsibilities. It was incredibly rewarding to mentor the upcoming talents and see them climb the ladders of success in their own careers.  I am really proud of them and have great memories of our Sastra Vismaya programs.

It was definitely challenging to manage both personal life and a full fledged career with these responsibilities.  While it’s easy to pick out the highlights, I can also see a string of mistakes and learning made in my journey. Growth isn’t quick or easy and it doesn’t happen in your comfort zone. I met countless volunteers hailing from all parts of the world who are passionate about making a difference. I’m grateful today to call many of those people my good friends. 

I acknowledge my great family bond,  respecting who I am and helping me to flourish even though at times we disagree on priorities. 

I hope my journey gives you hope as you embark on yours….


About the Author

Dr. Mini Ulanat  is a Technology evangelist with a career spanning 30 years of experience in Software & infrastructural development, implementation and management of enterprise IT projects. She took her Bachelors degree in Electrical Engineering from Govt. Engineering College Trichur  and Masters (M.Tech) and Ph.D (Computer Science)  from CUSAT. She is a recipient of several awards and accolades including three prestigious international fellowships – Chevening Fellowship(UK) , Fulbright scholarship (USA) and CICC Scholarship (Japan). As a part of the Information Resource Management team of Cochin University, She underwent training in Technical University Delft, The Netherlands. 

Active in Professional organisations, she holds leadership positions in the local, national and International committees. Dr. Mini is the WIE Committee member (2020). She is currently the chair of Women in Engineering (WIE), IEEE Kerala Section. Prior to that she was the chair- IEEE Kochi Subsection and Chair – Student Activities, IEEE Kerala Section. She is the Vice-Chair of Internet Society Trivandrum Chapter and Vice-Chair of ACM Kochi.  She was holding the post of National Student Coordinator of Computer Society of India (CSI). Dr. Mini was the Organising Chair of WIE International Leadership Summit (2018) and organising co-chair of Region 10 Flagship conferences Tencon 2019 and TenSymp 2017. Her off the job interest is evangelizing the Computer Culture with special emphasis on application of Information Technology for the common man. She is philanthropically engaged by supporting organizations working towards making a positive difference in the life of less privileged girls as a mentor and teacher. 

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