‘Wise’—a single word that best describes Srivathsa. His replies to my questions further prove my point. He is an Open Source enthusiast too, and we at Open Source India’s* first edition at Bengaluru. Every sentence that he utters is after considerable thought, and I’m sure you can get a glimpse of that trait from his interview too…
Q. Can you describe your current role? What are the primary results that you are expected to achieve for your organization in this role?
A. As an Engineering Director, I am primarily expected to provide engineering leadership to the product(s) that I am responsible for. Right now, I am responsible for a set of products related to Network Security and Cloud. I do share this responsibility with a peer in the US, which is common in many product organizations. My core responsibility is to ensure that we have everything that is needed to deliver a great product across releases. This includes a group that excels in innovation, engineering and execution. It also includes ensuring a culture where people feel motivated, valued, respected along with a sense of learning and growth. While doing all these, it is also necessary to have a vision towards which we scale together as a group, creating more technology experts and leaders on the way.
Apart from the products and the group that I am responsible for, I am also part of the India Technology Centre Leadership Team. As part of this core leadership team, I work with my colleagues to drive a word-class engineering organization and run programs that help the centre move up the value chain. This is very similar to a leadership role in any of the product development organizations in India.
Q. What are the things that excite you–about this role?
A. A lot of things. Being part of a product that is continuously expanding, the opportunity to adapt to developments in relatively new areas like Mobility, Cloud and Analytics. The opportunity to foster ideas and innovation within the teams. The internal initiatives to adapt methodologies like DevOps and the various tools that make up the ecosystem, and implementing changes in the development processes – which bring in continuous (un)learning. We also have a Technology Board, which consists of senior technical leaders in India, which helps us create a culture of technical excellence. I find it very energizing to be part of the Technology Board as well. I also get to interact with many gifted technical stalwarts in Unisys, who have decades of expertise. In short, the kind of people, opportunities and ecosystem I have at Unisys, makes my role very exciting.
To add, I also lead a India-level initiative called Grey Cells, which spans Business Units across India. This is the first time that I am leading a India level initiative within the company I am working for. So, that has been pretty exciting too.
Q. What’re the top 2 or 3 challenges for you in this role?
A. The role comes with enough challenges, both internal and external. Hidden behind these challenges are huge learnings. Working as one global team is something that we continue to keep on top of our minds. Balancing innovation with delivery is another. Scaling the team rapidly in terms of capability and culture, and achieving a good mix of organic and inorganic growth is challenging as well. Being in a dynamic environment, there are many situations that are a first-time challenge that I come across where I can’t dig into my past or strengths. The role also calls for quick decision making amidst ambiguity. There are many first-time situations that I come across, where I can’t dig into my past or strengths. It’s easy to make mistakes but luckily, I get excellent support from my manager and peers, both in India and the US. I am also lucky to be supported by an excellent team and a cohesive environment.
Q. Is this the kind of role that you had dreamt of when you were in college? If not, how did the shift happen? Are you happy with it?
A. Not at all. I could never imagine this kind of role. In fact, at each stage in my career, I never imagined the kind of role I would move into next. I always had dreams and plans, but the opportunities and changes that came by, always surprised me, in a good way. I consider it luck too, because whatever kept happening was much better than what I imagined. Each opportunity came as a change that was slightly disruptive and pulled me out of my comfort zone, and I stepped into each change with trepidation. But when looking back, I felt good that everything seemed like a plot that was scripted for me. I also want to acknowledge that, often, there were Godfathers who helped in shaping my career.