August - 2007 - issue > Woman Achiever
Jaya Smitha Menon
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
When Priti Rao, Senior Vice President and Head of Infosys, Pune Development Centre, says that life is not all about becoming a CEO one would rather give her a quizzical look. But that is Priti. She is just undaunted and unaffected by the aura that surrounds her as the head of the 14,000 people development centre in Pune. She is also the head of Infosys Infrastructure Management global practice, a new and rapidly growing business.

Carrying a mantle not many women are fortunate enough to don in their career, Priti has managed to steer clear her way to the top, with single minded determination. “I was very focused in life,” says Priti. Right from writing codes to heading the Europe software delivery for Infosys and later to the current positions she holds, it is this quality and self discipline which saw her rise to the top. In her career spanning more than 21 years, Priti has performed in a wide variety of roles in the software industry.

Priti identified her objectives quite early in life, right from the days she was a student in Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay. A post graduate in Computer Science from IIT-B, she wanted to be a techie in her career. She initially joined a small startup firm to work on development of operating systems and compilers. After working there for a period of 18 months she decided to move on to IT services, realizing the growth potential in this area. But before moving to another job, Priti decided to take a break of 3 years to be with her daughter.

“I was never too ambitious in life. I believe in enjoying both my personal life and professional life,” says Priti. So, she never took the break from her career subsequent to the birth of her daughter as a compromise or set back. She enjoys motherhood and believes that nothing could have ever compensated this bliss. Meanwhile, she also continued to do part time work for the company she was working with and it helped her to keep her skills current. After the break, Priti joined Larsen and Toubro (L&T) in 1987. L&T was one of the progressive companies which took to computerization early and Priti was heading the IT operations and management for the southern region of the company. Later, when L&T started its own Information Systems division, Priti played a key role in setting up the development center in Chennai which saw significant growth in a short time.

In 1997, it was time for her to come back to her home state, Maharashtra, due to personal reasons. She decided to leave behind the 10 year long challenging association with L&T and move over to Pune. It was then that she came to know about Infosys. During those days, Infosys was not so well known as it is today. When Priti joined Infosys Pune, the center had 200 people working there. Priti feels that this decision has had significant impact on her life. Later on, the company decided to expand its facility in Pune and set up a campus of their own.

At this point, Priti’s management skills led to the addition of yet another jewel to the tiara of her already successful career; when she was chosen to head the development centre in Pune which soon grew into a large unit of the company. “I had never thought in my life about leading such a large company,” says Priti. But, to lead a team of 14,000 professionals is not an easy task. Being at the helm of affairs, Priti says that she had a clear understanding of her responsibilities. In these days when managers fail to have confidence and trust in their subordinates and colleagues, she trusts her people. Priti says she trusts people profoundly and so delegating work is easy for her. This, she feels, has helped her a lot in increasing her productivity which she points out as her signature strength. She says, “I don’t believe in micromanaging and I motivate my team to perform better”. This is one quality, Priti feels, is very important for every manager to move ahead in his or her career.

Apart from a successful professional life, she also leads an active personal life. She enjoys cooking, gardening, and reading and takes time to pursue her slightly different hobby of kite flying. She believes in living life to the fullest. “I believe in enjoying every moment in life, both personal and professional,” says Priti. While doing so, she doesn’t forget her commitment to community; she actively volunteers in social work too.

“Today’s youngsters are smarter than the previous generation. They have more clarity in their thought and know what they want,” adds Priti. She urges them to enjoy their life to the maximum. Her advice to the youngsters is to lead a well balanced life.

True to her hobby, Priti has managed to line up quite a few colorful kites up in the sky of her life with the threads firmly held in her hand. She knows where they are heading to. Those colorful achievements have emblazoned the sky, leaving an ever shining trail behind for other women to emulate and be inspired. But Priti does not think her game is over, she is already on her way to adding more to her bunch.
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