October - 2007 - issue > Woman Achiever
Jaya Smitha Menon
Monday, October 1, 2007
Stuti Shukla explodes the notion that marketing, creating business strategy, and product planning are the domain of men. Stuti is the Group Manager for the Emerging Market Incubations Group at Microsoft India Development Center, Hyderabad. She leads the new product planning team for the emerging market. In her career spanning 13 years, Stuti has built a career that is firmly rooted in her marketing skills with experience in business strategy and market planning. “I always wanted to have a career doing market strategy and I really enjoy this job,” says Stuti. She has in-depth understanding of product, audience, and channel marketing with critical market drivers across customer segments and geographies worldwide.

“People have to pursue a career in an area which they are passionate about,” says Stuti. She loves working on things from scratch and has also chosen roles that are entrepreneurial in nature. “Work is an important part of my life. So doing things I am passionate about is very important to me,” she explains. Her passion and perseverance has won her laurels in the forms of awards and recognition at Microsoft. The first achievement came her way when Stuti and her team took to the task of driving the adoption of Microsoft’s .NET platform among Fortune 500 Customers in the U.S. It was a diligently crafted out strategy with flawless execution that drove significant penetration of the platform among customers and won Stuti, Microsoft’s Best Practices Award in 2002. She was invited to a luncheon with none other than Bill Gates. “It was a very special moment for me,” explains Stuti excitedly.

Stuti was also instrumental in developing Microsoft’s engagement model for small Independent Software Vendors (ISV) and operationalizing the plan. It was no trivial task to gain intelligence on the thousands of small ISVs worldwide, figure out a compelling value proposition for them to build on Microsoft platform, and get these ISVs to churn out new applications on the latest versions of Microsoft technologies on an on-going basis.

Often in IT companies it is difficult to successfully coordinate between engineering and marketing. As part of leading the business planning for Windows Server, one of the core Microsoft products, Stuti and her team worked in partnership with the engineering and leadership team to determine the core market segments which the next generation windows server should target. This collaborative effort and its outcome brought her the award for Excellence in Engineering and Marketing collaboration in 2006 which was presented by Steve Ballmer, CEO, Microsoft.

The idea of being able to make a big and real impact on the lives of millions of people in India through technology is very motivating for Stuti. In Microsoft she explores this mission by figuring out new technology products and models that are economically sustainable and can be turned into feasible businesses for Microsoft. “The challenge of figuring that out keeps me going,” explains Stuti.

Stuti attributes her success to her strong determination to reach out to what she wanted. “I am generally clear about what I want in life and conscious about the decisions I make to get there,” says Stuti. “I work hard to excel in whatever I do,” she adds. A chemical engineering graduate from NIT Rourkela, Stuti joined Indian Aluminium (currently Hindal) straight from the campus. After working in marketing with Hindal for almost a year she joined Reliance Industries to hone her engineering skills. Though she joined in the engineering stream she soon found herself gravitating towards business centric roles and found out that Marketing was the area she wanted to pursue in her career. Hence, she decided to do MBA at Carnegie Mellon University in the U.S.

“People in India often go for MBA right after graduation, whereas in the U.S. the norm is to pursue it after a few years of work experience,” says Stuti. She feels work experience helps people better appreciate business concepts. “In business it is more about the perspective and practical application of theory to real world situations,” opines Stuti. After doing her masters she switched her career to the IT world through Microsoft. “When you plan a career shift, you have to wait for the right time and right opportunity,” she says.

Stuti’s winning streak is also due to her sound management capabilities. She believes that in many ways, managing people is like taking care of children. “You have to understand people, relate to them, and coach them to grow,” voices Stuti. As a manager, Stuti believes that people have different strengths. She tries to recognize the strengths of her team members and assign roles in which they can do well. Along with optimizing for the business objectives, a manager also has to provide the team the right platform to enable growth of skills and career. Maintaining a collaborative work style, Stuti does not believe in providing people directions at a micro-level unless the situation demands. She respects the judgment of her team members and empowers them to do their best.

Driving the engines of destiny, Stuti feels every woman has the opportunity to grow and excel in their respective fields. She feels that women should take the initiative to come to the forefront and develop a support system of like-minded people around them. Her career excellence does not mean that she has compromised on her family front. Her children have always been very important to her and she makes it a point to be with them whenever they need her. “My husband too has been very supportive of my career and aspirations,” says Stuti. Whenever she takes time off her demanding job, she likes to spend time with her family and friends.

Stuti has achieved phenomenal success in her journey and is on the move to adding more laurels to her credit. But more than the awards she feels that it is her professional achievements and the impact of her work that satisfies her the most. After 10 long years in the U.S., Stuti moved to India eight months back to lead the planning for the Emerging Market Incubation Group in Hyderabad. Here she is tasked to enable expansion of the existing portfolio of Microsoft products. And her credentials are sure to win her more recognition on the Indian soil too.

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