Name: Raghothama Vijendran
Title: Senior Director Software Development
An engineering leader with two plus decades of versatile software industry experience from the top-notch global companies, such as Oracle, Siebel, and i2 Technologies. Strong exposure in the emerging Cloud Technologies (SaaS/PaaS/IaaS), Enterprise Software, and Containers. A professional with a journey involved in digital transformation from On-premise to Cloud platforms, customer migration initiatives, modernizing middleware and application layers to Cloud. Blending standard processes with modern approaches like Agile methodologies, Machine Learning and Artificial intelligence. A brief testimony is the US Patent grant (US10949329 B2).
My hands-on exposure is applied in complex software Life Cycle Management processes (install, upgrade and patching), Infrastructure management, end to end automation to drive continuous integration and continuous deployments (CI/CD) that overall encompasses the entire software Development cycle. These aspects are very critical and relevant for any organization's success in the IT industry.
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
I hope Raghothama's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
Leadership is all about Expectations Management. Consistency does matter. Leaders align the customers, organizational directives, and the team to get the best results. The challenge is to absorb variety of expectations, moderate them, and prioritize as appropriate.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
In 2004, I played the role as a Technical Lead owning few critical complex modules with high visibility. The product release schedules were highly aggressive and impactful as part of customer requests. With growing needs, I had to build and ramp up a small team to scale up and successfully deliver the goods. These efforts initiated a promotion proposal to my next level as a manager. Initially, I was hesitant to take up this managerial role and had disagreed since I was quite content with my technical role without any people responsibilities. But, thanks to my manager, who explained and forecasted my career development aspects as a Technical Leader. This motivated me to start with the bigger role while continuing my technical skills development with additional accountability. This factor of being technical strong and having managerial abilities has embodied even after 2 decades. I have seen and worked with some of the top technical leaders who have this combination working well.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I am an early riser and require at least 6 hours of sound sleep. I regularly go for a morning walk. Before going for my regular walk, I make sure to scan through any critical emails/messages to plan my day before 7:30 AM. I do not respond immediately with details, but a quick acknowledgement for a few mails making it an affirmative communication. As part of the global needs, there are unscheduled meetings requiring sync up calls with the engineering partners. So having an overlap for such sync ups morning / evening time helps the project efforts (typically 8-9:30 AM & PM). Before retiring for the day, I watch global news updates and like to watch comedy series. Being a sports lover, I ensure to keep a weekly slot reserved for a cricket game / practice session.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
Striking a right balance with past success to the future success. Awareness of current trends and ongoing learning is critical to be adept in the fast moving technological world. It is sometimes important to "unlearn" to "learn".
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
There are several, if I have to choose one, it would be "Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action" by Sinek, Simon."
I have always loved the simplified approaches for Leaders that Mr. Simon Sinek has been sharing in his views.
It is so important to know the "why?" to do in the right way. As leaders, it is critical to know and provide a holistic view and approach to the team that helps in managing the expectations and eventually aligns to the goal.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
Introspection and Retrospection are two sides of a coin that enables continuous learning and mastering complexities. Mutual respect and build trust. Empathy, Motivation and Inspiration to a fellow colleague is a natural process of a true leader.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
As a leader, you lead from the front. There are always challenges given to you with an expectation of a resolution. It is great to take most of opportunities and duck out a few. At times, it is good to prove about your creative potential to solve such problem statements.
We had a situation where there were several issues seen at production during upgrades. These issues put most of the support and development staff for extended working hours. Escalations were normal but with the complexities of multiple product integrations, it was difficult to pin point the gap. Issue persisted as these issues were not reported in the internal tests. In one of executive meetings, this was the agenda. My manager had given me a heads up about this issue and for this meeting, I was asked to prepare a potential recommendation an hour prior to the meeting. Shared my brief proposal on board to my manager for an in-house customer simulated setups for testing than the prevailing model and also automating them. Given the time, I quickly put this into a ppt, clarified current vs future approach to the problem and presented in front of CTO, several key leaders and decision makers. I was asked how long to implement, I said a week for a proof of concept and got it done. The issues reported by customers started reproducing in the in-house system. This went on to become a Test Infrastructure project in itself and we scaled to eventually eliminate such gaps.
The lesson was my manager's confidence in me and my challenge was to re-assure the confidence makes a great story and lesson to cherish.