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March - 2008 - issue > How I Got Where I am Today
Sailing over Sea of Challenges
Jaya Smitha Menon
Friday, February 29, 2008
Do managers really work? This was an interesting question Radha R had in her mind when she started her career 18 years back. As a young graduate who had just passed her engineering degree in electronics and communications she was under the impression that any work can be dealt with by an engineer. However now with her 18 year long experience, being Vice President at MindTree Consulting and head of the Global Business Intelligence and Data Warehousing Practice, she has gained deep insights into people management and is capable of giving some quick tips as well on how to be a good manager.

Radha joined TVS Electronics, which was a new venture by TVS Motors, straight from the campus and worked for various new products rolled out by the company. In those days TVS Electronics had a product marketing division and Radha moved into that division to try her hand in sales and marketing. And the lure she found in the world of sales and marketing led her into deciding to enhance her knowledge and skills in that area and so she joined IIM Bangalore to obtain a degree in management. From IIM-B it was a cakewalk into IBM, which was then a joint venture of IBM and TATA, where she was responsible for the IBM Software Partner program. She has also served IBM in various capacities and in diverse roles encompassing sales, marketing, and being responsible for various business lines of the company.

After eight long years in IBM, Radha decided to move to MindTree as the head of India Sales. After three years in MindTree, she was surprised when her boss Krishnakumar Natarajan, founder, President and CEO, IT Services called her to his office on a Saturday. In the meeting he shared with her his idea of building a business unit around Business Intelligence and Data Warehousing. MindTree was expanding its business around Internet technology. Krishnakumar wanted her to take up the challenge and build a new practice area. The job was not just building a team, but visualizing the concept and steer it in accordance with the business requirements of the company. “It involved dealing with people with different wavelengths - from technical to sales and delivery,” explains Radha.

The offer was lucrative, though it involved quite a number of challenges and risks. She understood the necessity of positioning the practice in a unique way in an industry ruled by heavy weights that already had established business units in this area. It involved a learning process for her also as her knowledge of Business Intelligence and Data warehousing was till then limited to a selling point of view. “Business Intelligence and Data Warehousing was familiar to me only to the level of selling a product,” admits Radha. Building a practice around the same with a difference required ind-epth knowledge of the domain as well as the market. “I used to read a lot of knowledge papers and research journals published in the domain and interact closely with experts and technical people in the area,” she adds.

Today, the Business Intelligence and Data Warehousing practice clocks 10 to 12 percent of the IT Services business of the company. Talking about building the practice, Radha says, “It was easy for me to just focus on the existing customers of MindTree and sell the services to them.” But Radha was not satisfied with that. With her prior expertise in sales and marketing, she went into the market to bring new accounts and build new customer relations. Hence, today, she proudly claims that this practice brings in more new accounts than the others in the company. The minuscule eight-member team that she had when she started off has now grown into 400 members in size with a wide range of professionals including project managers, business analysts, architects, domain experts, and the developer community.

With a passion to excel in whatever she does and an ever-smiling disposition that is coupled with her ability to connect with people, Radha is heading forward with her vision of making the practice the best in the industry. But beyond this, there is yet another entirely different dream this peak performer nurtures – to start a school. Even here she wants to stand out, as her aim is to blend education with practical application.

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