The Journey: Early Days to How I Got Here
A Keralite, born at Chennai, brought up at Mumbai, studied in the UK, married to a Goan and living in Bangalore –a veritable melange of regional and international influences have shaped me in to the person that I am today. I am an ambitious, driven individual who believes in the power of hard work and sincere efforts. Approachable and fairly empathetic, I find that people rely on my advice and input both at work and on their personal front. This empathy also shapes my leadership style and helps me build high performing teams.
Insight of My Company and the Role I Play in it
I lead and am the Director for Audience Marketing for Microsoft India.
In this role, I am responsible for spearheading Microsoft India’s efforts to foster the Indian software ecosystem through deep strategic engagements with professional developers, IT Managers, students, educators,institutions and thought leaders. I conceptualize strategy and execution to drive broad platform adoption and cultivate a vibrant ecosystem of customers,partners and developers that will be loyal to, excited about, and satisfied with MS. Our team focuses primarily on early adoption of Microsoft’s emerging technologies and building the momentum for the products. Education is also a key Microsoft imperative. I am also responsible for the strategy and vision behind Microsoft India’s initiatives in the higher-education Eco-system. I lead the necessary activities to support skill &workforce development in the country and Microsoft’s role in higher education & technical academia.
Decisions That Mattered
One of the first important career decisions I took was to join NIIT in it’s early days as a member of the faculty. Computers, IT and careers in IT were in an ascent stage in India in those days and I was excited to be part of technology. It is that passion for technology that has kept me in IT and related fields throughout the 22 years of my career graph. This was also an important period because it was at NIIT that I realized that I enjoyed working and connecting with people and helping to shape careers. The next important decision I took was to leave the safe haven of this first job, after 10 years,and join another young, ‘start-up’ at India which had a large global presence –Rational Software. This heralded the beginnings of my marketing and ‘evangelism’ career when the work that I did helped customers adopt rational tools and software easily. After the company was taken over by IBM, I spent 2 years earning the ropes of working at a large MNC. In my opinion though, the next biggest career decision I made was to join another start up called Professional Aptitude Council, a psychometric and aptitude testing San Francisco based organization where I learn the ropes of running a young business. My move to Sun Micro systems followed by my current career move to Microsoft India was all important from a growth and learning perspective.
My Vision as a Leader
To me leadership is all about helping yourself and others around you –peers, managers, and team members realize their full potential. Leadership is about change, hope and building the future. As a leader it is crucial to assume responsibility for outcomes and the processes and execution. Leaders must expect to be judged by what we do and how well we do it – not by what we say we want to do. I think managers evolve into leaders when they are able to put personal performance in perspective and invest in developing others, while expanding their own horizons.
Resolving Challenges Faced as a Women
Firstly I think the status today is very much better than what it was even10-15 years ago. Career choices for women exist. The challenges are not so much at entry level or mid managerial level but closer to the top. Here statistics show that less than 16% of the top CXO, COO CEO Positions are women leaders.One of the reasons is that not enough women stay on the workforce. I think one of the key challenges that women face is consistently underestimating their own capabilities. I keep trying to remember the adage that “your perception creates your own reality”. We must know ourselves well and remember that we own our own success. The second thing I strongly believe in is the power of having a good guide and mentor in your career progression. I am very fortunate in that I have some very good leaders as mentors and I can rely on them for strong, direct advice and leadership examples.
Work - life Balance
I absolutely hate it when women are particularly asked this question. Work-life balance is not gender specific. It is a factor of organizational culture, job and role type and individual preferences. Men and women alike face work-life balance issues in varying degrees. All the same, I do agree that at certain phases of life, one might choose to prioritize family exigencies over work or vice-verse. Balancing health, family, friends and work is not just a ‘woman’ issue;it is gender neutral and very individualistic.
Starting Over from Scratch, What I Would Like to do Differently
Not much. I think every experience and every step of my career was important.There are situations I would have handled differently, but those entire ads up to the holistic experience of my career.
Women Leaders: Driving Force for Powering Business
Businesses all over the world are realizing that a diverse workforce helps to reflect the diversity of the consumer base. Companies need to match up to the market and respond proactively to the changes in the market. To be competitive in the long run, organizations have to be able to listen and react to their customers’ needs. This is possible only if the organization reflects from top-down the diversity of the market.
My Learning Along the Way
Investing in the team and in yourself is key to success. Taking bets on the right people & taking well-planned risks in your career will help you on the growth path of learning and career success. The two key attributes that helped me along the way were striving to take on big, bold challenges and driving for results with passion.
Two Years Down the Line
Planning to continue with marketing&business priorities for Microsoft.
An Accomplishment You are Most Proud of?
This is not an accomplishment – but I am very proud of my family. My husband is my best friend, I have two wonderful daughters and I am blessed with a loving, extended family circle.
This is not to women leaders but to all women – some words from Helen Keller – Don’t consent to creep when you have the impulse to soar.