Browse by year:
The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

April - 2010 - issue > Woman Achiever

Leadership is all about Rising Up Challenges!

Vimali Swamy
Friday, April 2, 2010
Vimali Swamy
Her cool demeanor and the ease with which she comfortably fits into any surrounding is what one notices in Ivy John. Currently the Director of the Enterprise Consulting unit at Barry Wehmiller International Resources, Ivy has over 18 plus years of industry experience behind her and still one can notice a sense of purpose in her stride. Despite a string of notable achievements to her credit, she still strives to create a difference with her everyday work and etch a greater name for herself. Be it developing and shaping start-up companies into industry level behemoths, managing engineers ranging from 10 to 200 for European and North American principals or establishing Vertical Practices (Electronics Design Automation, Automotive and Avionics Systems, and Banking Finance Insurance and Securities), Ivy has done it all.

Born to academicians from Mysore, Ivy always had a flair for looking at the practical aspect of what she learnt or worked up on. Having always loved challenges, when she was offered to start the department of science (Physics, Chemistry & Mathematics) in a woman's college in Mysore, she readily accepted it. It was the time when science did not attract much woman but she happily started the course with just five students. From day one onwards she set herself apart from other teachers with her practical approach to studies. In years to come the number of students who enrolled for this subject increased steadily and with in 3-4 years, Ivy was able to get a grant from UGC for the college. But her marriage put an end to her career as an academician and took her to IIM Ahmedabad where her husband based.

Not the one to sit still, Ivy took the opportunity to join the department of physical research. It was here that she first got introduced to computers and learnt languages like Fortran, Cobol, C and more. In the coming years she globe trotted with her husband but continued to keep in touch with her skills through freelance projects. Later she returned to Delhi with her family and joined the banking and finance division at Nucleus Software (now known as Polaris Software). One of the most remarkable opportunities she got here was an assignment for Citibank where one had to migrate all of bank's current applications into Oracle. This was a big challenge for Ivy and team as all of Citibank's applications were written in an old technology and had to be migrated in to Oracle, which was then still in its beta stage. She not only had to have her team learn the new language but also work with Oracle to help them overcome the shortcomings in the software. After days and nights of hard work, learning and planning the team had managed to achieve the desired result and it was just waiting to upgrade the systems at each of bank's operational units. "Back then Citibank was one of the earliest international banks in India and they operated from all the four metros. The team had successfully deployed the new applications in three metros and was about to do it in Mumbai (then Bombay) when the company and its client he bomb blasts rocked the city. One of the targets had been the Bombay Stock Exchange and Citibank's office was just next to it," remembers Ivy. It was a critical time for both the company and its client as loss of data could hamper the entire effort of the past months and everyone was wondering the next course of action. It was then the team came up with an idea and sent a small team of engineers to Mumbai and transferred al the data into new database and then transferred all applications to the Madras branch. "The blasts happened on Friday and on Monday the bank was up and working and none of the bank's client realized that they were supported from Madras," says she. This was an achievement that was talked about in the industry circles for a long time to come. After a few years, she was offered to head two business lines in Cadence, a U.S. based EDA company that had newly started its operations in India and set up a development centre here. This was a new experience for her as the environment was new and so was the kind of work. She was to head two business lines one of which was a successful one and other was yet to hit the markets. Her primary role involved being the intermediate point of contact between the developers and the management and collaborate with the company’s development centers in U.S. and Europe. It was here that she got a chance to work with different types of people both in India and abroad. "Looking back my stint at Cadence was a good experience. I remember having to interact with researchers and developers who could talk nothing but numbers and then there were senior managers who could talk nothing but business. I had to become the bridge between the two and help drive the business lines. Also, I was often travelling to the US and working there was an eye opener in terms of culture and ethics,"she says.

Years later she relocated to Chennai and joined HCL. She was offered to start a new business unit for the company in Automotive Electronics. The German company, Siemens had been scouting for a partner in India then and had approached a couple of service providers including HCL. With no team and just a prospective client, Ivy stepped up to the challenge. She built a small team and together learnt the basics of the automotive electronics. She then approached the customer and with her frank talk and enthusiasm won the confidence of the client. HCL had won the first customer in a new business and the success in this would determine the future of the business. "Siemens developed the dashboard for cars and these comprised of various gizmo's in it such as navigator, GPS etc. We closely worked with the team at Siemens and developed the software for the electronics in the dashboard and delivered. But we had a two fold problem— one, all the specifications from the client was in German and had to be translated to English for our use and then back in German during product delivery. Second, the client developed all these products for Italian cars and they in turn had to deliver product documentation in Italian," she tells. Ivy took it in her stride to develop a hand book by both Siemens and its Italian clients and make the process much simple. In years to come this was a success story that remained the talk of the town. In turn, every time HCL wanted to start a new business unit they asked Ivy to recount the success they achieved in the automotive business to the clients. Later, she repeated the same feat with the company's avionics business unit which today boasts of clients like Boeing.

Now at BWIR, she heads the software team and is responsible overall for custom application development, implementation, and maintenance of enterprise solutions, web development, and legacy system development and maintenance in the areas of Microsoft Technologies, iSeries, IBM WebSphere – Java, Open Source - Java and Macromedia ColdFusion.

Share on Twitter
Share on LinkedIn
Share on facebook