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Community > Sheela Singh
Sheela Singh

Sheela Singh

VP - Global HR, Consulting & Application Solutions

Perot Systems

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Trusting her Instincts
When Sheela Singh decided to move from being Head of Quality to Head of
Human Resources at Perot Systems, she was trusting her instincts and
betting on her ability to handle people. The move was coming after
nearly 21 years in the IT industry- where she started as an embedded
system software developer quickly growing into Chief Operations Officer
and Director of Quality Management Services. A proven survivor, there
was no obvious reason for this detour except that the challenge was
alluring, encompassing her in its charms.



After all overcoming challenges time after time is what Sheela had been
busy at in her long tenure as an IT professional. Her kitty of
commendable achievements in varied sectors attesting the lady’s worth.
Running back to her days as Senior Engineer at Bharath Electronics Ltd
(BEL) where she worked with the best minds on India’s prestigious
airborne early warning radar system (AWACS), this techie then steered
Verifone’s Appliance Engineering team as it developed and delivered its
first smart card applications.
Responsible for creating the Quality Management Team
She was also the backbone of creating the Quality Management team of the
consulting unit at Oracle India from scratch and helped the company
attain CMMI level III certification in the very first shot.
‘Job-hopping’ could be how some view her career graph but she terms them
as ‘making use of the new exposure and opportunities - something that
was necessary to build strong leadership skills.’



Today she heads the Global HR practices for the 5000 strong Consulting
and Application Solutions team at Perot Systems. For her it is not about
the challenge only but “opportunities that were waiting to be acted
upon”.
Explored Newer Opportunities
The drive to act on such opportunities was innate in Sheela. If it
weren’t for the drive, she would probably still be in BEL, oblivious to
what she could have achieved. “I was lucky enough to be handpicked for
the AWACS project, but then on I had to push myself to explore newer
opportunities,” she asserts.

And push she did, all the way to become Project Manager at Verifone’s
India R&D center where she handled some of the company’s major smart
card application development projects. The team worked on developing a
smart card electronic purse application that would be certified by Visa,
Mondex and Proton respectively for use across the globe. As the head of
the appliance software engineering division, her role extended to
establishing effective working relationships and communication between
geographically distributed teams.
Juggled her role
The team took on the task of compiling libraries of software utilities
that would dramatically reduce the turn-around time in developing
electronic payment applications and getting them certified. Impressing
on her teams that such development was possible out of India, protecting
them from skeptical managers at the headquarters and motivating them,
was very demanding. It was a crucial project for the team as they set
out to establish their worth. She juggled her role well enough to see
through the launch of the product, developed entirely in India. The
memory of these successes still bringing back a heady rush of
excitement.



But as one phase passed, another challenge showed itself on her
doorstep. Verifone, which had been acquired by HP, was suddenly on its
own again having been sold to an independent investment group. The team
she knew as family was in sudden turmoil as uncertainty loomed at every
corner. Nobody was sure what was happening with the company or their
jobs. She guarded her team and kept them together, continuing to deliver
to commitments even as the entire organization went through a major
transition. Several local and global companies expressed interest in
hiring the talented set of VeriFone India engineers.



As part of the local leadership team, Sheela was able to get through
the management with this idea. HP ISO later took over the application
software team at Verifone under its wings and appointed her as head of
the delivery team. For the woman who loved challenges, she terms this
transitory phase as among the most fruitful. “Those were very difficult
days where nobody was assured of a job, and they looked up at me for
answers. For them I was the ‘mother hen’,” she remembers fondly.



In more ways than one, this was a crucial stage in her career and she
was suddenly looking beyond the small. The manner of handling this
crisis with no prior leadership expertise boosted her confidence and
when the right time came, she took the bus to the next big step in her
career. Her stop being GE India’s post as Chief Operating Officer
(consumer production).
Challenges kept her on her Toes
A bigger role, it gave her ample room to test and train her newfound
practices in the areas of Six Sigma, vendor management and recruitment-
matter that was to form the crux of her future professional life. Without realizing, she had successfully transformed herself from a
hardcore techie into manager and now a leader. “If you do not disengage
yourself from macro level technical details and trust your team members
to provide the tech expertise, you would never be able to grow”, she
says.



Her continuous need for challenges kept her on her toes where no
opportunity was too big or small. She gave up her role as COO to become
Director of Quality at Oracle. It was never planned, she went with the
flow taking with her lessons and leaving the rest to her instincts and
of course, her abilities. Albeit an individual contributor in the
beginning- extending the North American Quality services to India
division- her leadership persona could not been contained for long. Soon
the North American team assigned her charge of creating a Quality
Management team in India for Oracle’s consulting services. A huge
confidence boost for Sheela, it only assured that every step she had
taken till now was a good decision.
Utmost Confidence is Necessary
The
journey that began as a technical engineer was resting at almost the
other side of the world and despite every change; she started as the
head of the pack and never at the bottom. “I did not deliberate too much
while making the transitions. I saw the need and I was supremely
confident that I could help out fulfill this need.,” she affirms.



Not surprisingly, the lady has not planned anything for the future and
she a reason for it: “A set and stubborn vision would stop one from
attaining so many otherwise successful ventures.” Tomorrow she might
take a ‘smaller role’ in a ‘smaller organization’, but as long as it
is meaningful, she is a happy woman.
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