June - 2008 issue > Woman Achiever
Riding on the passion for technology
Vimali Swamy
Friday, May 30, 2008
‘A people’s person and a technology enthusiast’ is how one can define Manjula Arun, Director, Mainframe Center of Excellence at UST Global. A passionate programmer, Manjula has been hooked to computers since the day she first laid her hands on a computer during her college days — quite surprising for a girl who wanted to pursue microbiology but was talked into taking up computers by her father. A B.E. Computer Science graduate from Pune University, Manjula started her IT career with IMR Global after a short stint with a company in Delhi. “It was at IMR that I learnt the ins and out of the IT industry. From understanding how systems worked to coding and debugging, I learnt it all there,” says Manjula. Here, she worked on different types of projects and various domains, especially retail, healthcare, and manufacturing. She also got a chance to work in the U.S. for 2-3 years during which time she developed a closer interaction with customers and gained an understanding of what the users were looking for. In the initial five to six years she decided to focus only on developing her technical skills, and this proved to be the biggest differentiator for Manjula. Even today, she is ready to plunge into basic programming and debug a code if the need rises.

After seven years at IMR, Manjula decided to take a two-year break to be with her growing kids. During this period she got several enquiries on training people and it made her realize that she had a flair for teaching and coaching. This was a period of transition from being a hard-core programmer to a technical trainer. She joined a corporate training institute as a part time worker where she developed training and curriculum programs. In those two years Manjula not only spent time at home but also kept herself updated on the technical advancements. “It helped me realize the impact I could make as a trainer. I now focus on giving back to the community whatever I had learnt in those years,” says Manjula.

She went on to join UST Global and has been in the company for six years now. Here, Manjula has been juggling multiple roles – project manager, account manager, and heading the training group. As a training head, Manjula has the credit of working with over 2,000 Ussociates (associates at UST Global) over a span of three years. Her passion towards mentoring people reflects from the fact that even today people come back to her for guidance, be it personal or professional.

She has setup numerous offshore accounts for the company and is partly involved in developing training programs to give an edge to the company’s technical competence. As the Director, Mainframe Center Of Excellence, she works very closely with the mainframe community at UST Global and is in constant touch with them following the developments in mainframe technology. With so many achievements to her name, it is not surprising that she has emerged as one of the star employees at UST and was awarded the ‘Employee of the Year’ award in 2006.

Always being lively with activity and looking forward to help others, Manjula keeps herself occupied in other projects outside work. An active member of the company’s social initiative, Manjula closely works with her colleagues in community programs UST Global is involved with. She along with other leaders launched NowU, Network of Women Ussociates, which focuses on leadership development for women employees. Manjula with her colleagues works towards training women employees and trying to bring them up in the corporate ladder as an effective leader.

Talking about her own leadership skills, Manjula says that as a leader she believes in ‘collaboration’. “Every person has a unique strength and when we bring together different people into one team one needs to leverage on their strengths and assign tasks accordingly. I’m a team player and I believe in working with the team. Sometimes my team members may not be up to the mark. Then I focus on their training so that they can come up to the expected level and I can use their skills to complete a project successfully,” says Manjula. Her leadership strength lays in the fact that she is a good listener, people focused, and has an ability to blend technology, people, and management together.

This vivacious technologist doesn’t believe in long term planning but rather would like going along with opportunities that come her way. But one of her goals is to gain more experience in the retail, something that has fascinated her since the early days of her career. Riding high on her passion for technology, this mother of two believes that nothing can stop one from conquering dreams if one has the zeal to achieve.
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