Women City

Darshana Pai

Darshana Pai

Head –
SI: The Journey: Early Days to How I Got Here
Darshana: I have been in the IT industry for the last 20 years. I completed my Masters in Technology from IIT Mumbai and thereafter joined Patni Computers as a developer. I have worked with top IT companies so far- Wipro, Capgemini, Satyam, and now, Virtusa. Currently, I head Delivery for the Hyderabad Centre. Over the years, I have delivered multi-million IT solutions to customers in Retail, Finance, Energy Utilities and Travel Logistics.

Prior to joining Virtusa, I was with Wipro where I headed the delivery function for transportation logistics and government vertical and was responsible for the profitability, delivery excellence and employee engagement. At Capgemini, I headed the delivery function for UK region,across all industry verticals. I have also been a visiting faculty at CapGemini University at Les Fontains, France.

SI: Insight of My Company and the Role I Play in it
Darshana: Virtusa is a global IT services company that offers a broad range of information technology services, including IT consulting, technology implementation, and application outsourcing services. The company provides IT services to Global 2000 companies and leading software vendors in Communications & Technology, Banking & Financial Services, Insurance, Telecommunications, and Media, Information & Entertainment industries.
In my current role at Virtusa, I head the Delivery operations at the company’s Hyderabad Development Center. My responsibility primarily focuses on customer satisfaction, delivery excellence and employee engagement.
I am also spearheading the Gender Diversity Initiative at Virtusa providing mentorship and career guidance to fellow women associates.

SI: Decisions That Mattered
Darshana: One of my most important career decisions was to join Capgemini Consulting in Mumbai as delivery head for UK after having spent 8 long years in Patni Computers. This transition has been very critical in my career since this was my first step towardstaking a leadership role

SI: My Vision as a Leader
Consistently deliver high quality experience to our customers through innovative delivery models.  Create a learning culture and an ecosystem to provide career growth path for my team. Maintain high excitement all the time in my delivery center and last but not the least, to sustain business growth focus to be able to contribute to my organization’s growth vision.

SI: Resolving Challenges Faced as a Women
If I look back, I feel proud of what I have achieved. Being in the Armed forces, my husband would be posted to a new location every 5 years. So we had to start all over, every time we moved to a new city.  Initially I thought it was a big constraint for building a strong career. But with strong determination, positive outlook and persistence I looked at this constraint as an opportunity to grow faster. I was constantly on my toes to acquire new skills and also adapting to new environments quickly.

How have you been able to grow in this male-dominated industry? What are the challenges you have faced? Is there some specific example that you would like to share?

Being in the IT industry, and in big cities where I worked, I can say that being a woman was never a constraint for me. I have never felt that during any time in my career.

SI: Work - life Balance
One must have very high energy levels. It is not as much about time management but about energy management. There are some things that I follow - physical exercise is a very high priority for me. I never compromise on that even if I am travelling. Further, I am very particular about my diet in order to maintain high energy levels all the time.

The second thing is to ask for help – having a strong support system. I go to my friends or family for help with tasks when I am not able to manage. Asking for help is usually not something that comes naturally to women.

SI: Starting Over from Scratch, What I Would Like to do Differently
I don’t think I would have done anything differently. Maybe, if I had looked for a mentor earlier on in my career, I would have grown much faster. But overall, I feel that I have made all the right choices.

SI: Women Leaders: Driving Force for Powering Business
Women bring a unique perspective and leadership style to their work. I think they strike the right balance between people management and business management. I also feel that we are very outcome oriented.

SI: My Learning Along the Way
Darshana: I learnt very early in my career that positive outlook, persistence and passion for growth is what it takes to be the best in what you do. That has been my philosophy in my professional journey for the last two decades.

SI: Two Years Down the Line
I have been performing the Delivery Head role for the last 8 years. There havebeen diverse learning opportunitiesacross the various organizations I have worked at. While at Capgemini, I experienced the UK culture and was able to build strong relationships.During my stint at Wipro, I learnt a lot about the Government Sector in Asia-Pacific (APAC) region and the Transportation & Logistics Industry.
Currently, heading the Hyderabad Center of Virtusa has been an exciting journey. I would like to excel in this role and also gain some specialization while doing this role.

SI: An Accomplishment You are Most Proud of
On the professional front, I cherish every small achievement and every step that I have climbed in my career ladder.

The biggest accomplishment was when we went ‘live’ for a large business transformation program for a Japanese client. It was a multi-year and multimillion dollar program and was rigorous due to the kind of requirements the client had. This completely changed the way of doing business for my customer. My team and I stayed motivated throughout this tough project.  This was career defining moment for all of us.

On the personalfront, my son got the best all-rounder award in the 1st standard. That was the first time he demonstrated his abilities before Ihad gauged his potential.

SI: Advice/Suggestions
Women leaders give up very early in their career. This could be due to work-life balance or personal responsibilities. They should work through these challenges and ask for help when they need it. My favorite piece of advice to allthe women professionals out there is that – don’t fall in love with the problems you like. Build on your strengths, nurture your passion and last but not the least take control of your health, start young and make it a lifelong pattern.

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