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.

October - 2006 - issue > Woman Achiever

The Incandescent Vignette

Keerthana Venkatesh
Saturday, September 30, 2006
Keerthana Venkatesh
To grow an organization that has charm, vitality, energy, and belonging,” was Chitra’s concern when she was deputed to head the Mobility division of Lucent Technologies three years ago. Having worked in the U.S. all her life, it was a challenge to reckon-a challenge similar to when she started her work career.

Hailing from an orthodox Brahmin family from the temple town of Srirangam in South India, Chitra Kasthuri was a liberal by nature and good student by God’s grace. Her interest in studies encouraged her to complete her Masters in Mathematics. But she had to follow the traditional path of marriage and family. However, events turned in her favor and she and her husband left for the U.S. to pursue their higher studies leaving the child behind.

Kasthuri was pooled into Mathematics and Computer Science for another Masters program. “I didn’t know what a CPU or memory meant at that time,” she says. Under the mentoring of a professor at the University, Kasthuri started from ground zero, taking several courses in computer science. Even before she completed her Masters she was absorbed into a small company to do backend programming. Months later, Kasthuri switched over to SwitchCo, a packet data switching company and from there she graduated into AT&T, then into Lucent Technologies, Bell Labs Innovations upon its spin-off in 1986.

“It was a huge shift. I was somebody in SwitchCo and now I was one among hundreds of thousands people,” she says. Work was challenging and Kasthuri needed a work-life balance. For a few years she skipped lunches and travels to stick to her 9 to 6 schedule and rush home to care for the family.

In 1991, she experienced a turnaround. Kasthuri met her inspirational idol and mentor, Mary Chan, at AT&T Bell Labs and realized it was time for her to concentrate on her career growth. Chan’s energy, enthusiasm, demeanor and high achieving goals found Kasthuri paving her own path and setting personal goals that would build her career in the organization.

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