Inside SQLI: Meet Oindrila Samanta, Project Manager

Oindrila is a project manager at SQLI, based in Dubai. Here she talks about her role, her love for painting and trekking - and her culturally diverse early years.

Tell us about yourself

We moved from India to Saudi Arabia for my father’s job in petrochemical engineering when I was around 10 – and it was a real shock to the system. It was a completely different life.

I went from being able to play outside until 8pm and 9pm and having relative freedom, to being pretty confined. The culture was so different, we weren’t allowed to play out or talk to boys and the school I went to kept boys and girls separated. Things in Saudi Arabia are different now, but I found it really difficult to deal with at the time.

About five years later, we moved to Bahrain for work again - another totally different experience, but this time a better one, where boys and girls could hang together and we had space to be kids. Those last three years of schooling were my favourite.

After school, and as an Indian, the choices were either to become a doctor or go into engineering! I chose engineering and moved back to India on my own to study computer science at one of the best colleges for the course in the country.

It was another big culture shock. I went from a comfortable life and nice house in Bahrain, to terrible college facilities. I lived in a tiny room no bigger than a washroom, with no air conditioning and temperatures around 40 degrees and insects everywhere.  Due to the religious region the college was in, all the food was vegetarian and I struggled to make friends as I didn’t speak the dialect very well. I cried for around three months!

But after a while I knew I had to transform myself and make the most of my time there. I started connecting with people and while the four years were hard, I learnt a lot about myself.

What did you do before SQLI?

After college I got a job in India as a front-end developer and then due to my communication skills and qualifications, I shifted into project management with the same company.

I was there for around five years altogether until an opportunity came up in Malaysia with the company. I had to move to the Abu Dhabi office to wait for a Visa and in the mean-time I met an old family friend. I realised I really wanted some stability, so I started looking for other roles nearby and then the job with SQLI came up which meant living in Dubai, rather than moving to Malaysia.

What’s your role at SQLI?

I joined SQLI in 2021 as a project manager looking after Nespresso. Nespresso is a huge brand for the company with many different websites running in various MENA countries such as Qatar, Kuwait, UAE, Morocco and other markets. SQLI looks after these different platforms on a day-to-day basis, ensuring they run smoothly, all queries are answered and issues resolved and new features are implemented. 

My role is to oversee this and to cover for my senior manager when she’s on leave.

What are the challenges of the role?

In previous roles, I was used to working in the same office as my team. So, when I started out at SQLI I was working with a team who were in different parts of the country or different countries.  It was a challenge to start with but I can see the benefits of working across teams, across different skillsets and time zones.

Also, when I first joined I didn’t have much knowledge of Magento and Adobe. It took me a few months to get into the technical details of how it works because being a project manager is not just about ensuring questions and queries are answered, you need to be able to explain why a feature works like it does. You need to have a good working knowledge of the system and while I’m immersed in the technology, there are always new features and functions coming down the line – you need to keep on top of it.

What are your achievements in the company so far?

I’m very proud of working on a project as big as Nespresso. As this is my first year in the company, I am still learning and taking in as much as I can right now.

Any other achievements you are proud of?

From a career point of view, one of my biggest achievements was helping to launch an online petrol delivery services app in Dubai. I was working in India at the time, but I went to Dubai for about three months to help launch the entire project. It was a big opportunity and I was really pleased with how it went.

I would say the other major achievement was moving to Dubai.  I followed my own path and was able to make the move out here. It was a big decision and big achievement given I was a single female.

What are your motivations in life and hobbies?

I am very family-oriented and my parents and my in-laws are my main motivations in life. Knowing what they have achieved inspires me to do something great with my life.

I married my husband earlier this year and I look at how well our families have done and I want to have the same secure future for my family too, especially for when we one day have children.

I have a lot of hobbies. I love cooking and I’m passionate about getting better and trying new recipes. I enjoy putting something nice together for my family.

Painting is another passion of mine. I have been an artist for quite some time. I use oil paints and whenever I'm free I’ll get the paints out.

I also enjoy trekking. I completed the Chandratal trek in India which is really tough. It was around 8.8 miles and you trek through the mountains, so I trained hard for it and when I completed it, I was overwhelmed! My next goal is to trek to the Mount Everest Base Camp.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?

Because I love painting, I would probably have pursued a career as an artist.

What’s your motto in life?

Be the energy you want to attract!

If you could pass on one piece of advice you have been given, what would it be?

I have always valued the time of others and the piece of advice that I stick by is to value the time of others so that your own is valued.

Lastly, what does the future hold?

I’d like to work my way up at SQLI and take on other projects. I’m a keen learner and plan to do some certifications in the next year to support my career growth.