Empowering Women in IT and in Business

With more than 15 years of experience at the intersection of retail and technology across three different continents, Smita Katakwar is now approaching her one-year anniversary with Wegmans as the vice president of software engineering. In her role, Smita and her team are responsible for defining technical strategies, allowing for the best-in-class customer and employee experience at Wegmans.

Smita grew up in India with a big family of farmers. “My parents have always been my inspiration, as they gave me both my roots and my wings,” she says. “As a young girl, I was always interested in technology. I enjoy learning new concepts, applying my knowledge to solve problems, and working with people. Moving to the United States and pursuing a career in technology allowed me to follow my passion for creating solutions. Through this journey, I’ve met many bright and supportive people along the way.”

After attending Carnegie Mellon University, where she earned a master’s degree in information systems management with the highest distinction, Smita built up her resume, holding several different jobs in her field. Most recently, she was vice president of product management, experience, design, and engineering at BJ’s Wholesale Club before coming to Wegmans.

“When I was growing up, being a woman in the technology business was very taboo,” Smita says. “This was a very male dominated industry, and women were expected to pursue more people-oriented jobs. The paradigm has shifted, and more women are excelling in STEM areas. I am so proud to see how diverse and inclusive this industry has become.”

Last month, Wegmans sponsored RIT’s annual WiCHacks, a hackathon organized for female students from various universities across the northeast region. This collaborative event challenged students to create an app, website, game, or other piece of software over the course of the 24-hour event.

“I believe in amplifying power within yourself, and I was so pleased to hear the women at this event use their voices to share their ideas and take on this challenge. It was important for Wegmans to be there, not only to support these women, but to also create awareness of the many career paths we have at our company related to STEM. Many of our positions incorporate technology, food knowledge, and communication – all of which were needed to succeed in this hackathon.”

“My first year at Wegmans has been incredible. The family-oriented culture is unique, and I have been given a great work/life balance. If I’m faced with any challenges, I know that I’m not alone. I have caring team members and invested mentors willing to help me be my best self. I’ve been supported by so many female leaders across the organization, and in return, I want to give that same support to young women navigating the industry and their career path.”