Meet Sona: VP of Cloud Engineering & Delivery, Head of Cloud Products and Customer Success
Sona Venkat is a Vice President, Engineering and Head of Cloud Products and Customer Success, developing and delivering cloud solutions for Comcast NBCUniversal. As a leader, Sona is passionate about investing and supporting the next generation of women and people of color in the tech industry.
With 20 years of experience under her belt, Sona arrived at Comcast in 2021 offering a breadth of knowledge to help lead the charge around cloud product management and strategy through innovation and modernization. Sona notes Comcast is in some aspects “flying the plane while building it” as cloud technology is a relatively new space for the company. Sona and her team are exploring multidimensional approaches to cloud solutions, including scaling artificial intelligence, developing roadmaps for areas such as virtualization, storage, and security, and defining the end-to-end Developer Experience.
As a minority female in tech, where Black, Latina, and Native American women make up only 4% of computing degree recipients and the current tech workforce, Sona has had plenty of time to not only break down her own barriers, but to also forge a path for others to follow. While Sona is a seasoned executive leader, the role of “Mom” dominates.
Sona spent time away from her career focusing on her two boys, one of which was diagnosed with autism. It wasn’t long before Sona found herself relating to many others as they wrestled with the balance of career and life. “As you step away, you find yourself talking to people less,” said Sona. The hesitation and uncertainty of returning to work can quickly jump to the forefront. “It’s easy to start questioning yourself and validating the concern of whether you’re capable of returning.”
As she revisited her career path, culture became a defining aspect for Sona, and why she ultimately chose Comcast.
As a childhood immigrant, Sona knows firsthand the challenges and obstacles that face women and people of color in the tech industry. “There’s a lack of mentors that you see yourself in. I’m happy to have a seat at the table and represent for others.”
Sona recognizes the need for not just diversifying the tech industry but making it more practical to do so. “We need to make it easier for those 8-year-olds to know what’s possible and how to get there.” One way she’s done that? She helped to establish the Business Technology Early College High School (BTECH) in Queens, New York through her time at software development company, SAP. Designed to offer a high school diploma and an associate's degree, BTECH provides career-ready skills such as computer programming and information technology, and hands-on job training through internships and apprenticeships.
“Early outreach is so important,” noted Sona. “Offering formal rotations, mentorship, and providing University introductions are all key factors in increasing women and people of color in tech.”
Initiatives such as Project UP, Comcast’s comprehensive initiative to advance digital equity, are key to leveling the playing field and helping to create more diversity in tech - opening the door for the next generation of innovators. In addition to expanding internet access in the homes of low-income families with Internet Essentials, Project UP is also investing millions in effort to create more opportunities for underrepresented people. Partnerships with organizations such as Per Scholas, CodePath and NPower are opening new pathways to tech sector careers, as well.
In addition to outreach efforts, change must take place on the hiring aspect as well. “Diversity of thought is key to innovation,” noted Sona. “One of my best hires was made based on elements not on the resume. She offers such a unique perspective.”
To tap into those diverse perspectives and experiences, Comcast offers career pathing programs to help talented individuals grow their careers in the technology industry. The Act Two Program is a 6-month paid, fixed term role for professionals returning to work after taking time off for personal reasons, such as caregiving. And the Grow to Code program trains and prepares frontline employees to become software engineers.
When asked about her advice to others, Sona commented, “Pick an emerging area, learn it cold, and give yourself an informed point of view. Your foundation will be the strongest in the room and speak for itself.”
Interested in a technology career at Comcast like Sona’s? View our open technology roles and apply!