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Finding a Higher Calling as a Professional

Diversity
Impact
Coaching / Training / Mentorship

21 May, 2021

Aravinda Gollapudi
Aravinda Gollapudi

VP of Engineering at Sage

Aravinda Gollapudi, Vice President of Engineering at Sage, stresses the importance of the pursuit of value beyond what can be found on one’s resume.

Problem

Relating to the importance of why we do the work that we do allows us to do a better job of contributing to the world and finding our higher purpose. This is so much more important than meeting a revenue goal or some other material metric.

Some people may have a limited viewpoint due to the stage in their career that they happen to be in. There is a race to go and to achieve a personal milestone or a title; a lack of mentorship and guidance may be a factor. Developing a sense of emotional intelligence will help a professional define what success and happiness really means for them. It’s a life journey that all professionals partake in over the course of their careers.

Actions taken

For me, the journey was very interesting. I started my career thinking that I would end up earning a PhD in physics, but I ended up having to adapt my life, switching gears and being comfortable taking on a new challenge. I became a software engineer, got married, and moved to California with my husband. I learned to grow in an environment that was foreign to me, as an immigrant coming to this country in 1995. It took some time not only to acquire the skills that I needed in my new field, but also to acclimate myself to the rest of the group and to gain an understanding of the culture and how to fit in.

This took time away from any thinking that involved the future, five, ten, or fifteen years down the line. There was a bit of a survival mentality, making sure that I would be able to establish myself as a technical leader, eventually growing into management, which is all about leading people in addition to leading projects. The tipping point for me was when I started to become more involved in caring for a purpose beyond the responsibilities of my job.

It’s less about our own individual careers and products and the companies that we work for; it’s more about leaving behind a legacy. I find that to be a lot more satisfying. When people feel that they’ve gotten help from somebody else to get better or to learn something was actually so much more gratifying. It was a matter very close to my heart because I was always alone in the world that I entered.

I learned the importance of diversity in thought. When I started to focus and to champion for young women in my field, I started to feel good about myself as their confidence grew. I founded a program to support women in a previous company that I worked for that supported women in the field and to inspire them to find their own paths in life.

Lessons learned

  • Forcing people to think beyond their own individual struggles is hard. You don’t want to do that. You want to make sure that they stay on course with what they need to do in order to survive. You need to allow them to build their careers and their networks. This gives them that standing in life required for a lasting effect on the industry. Then, that’s where mentorship and advocacy comes in. At this stage, you are then free to care less about deliverables and objectives and more about growth and confidence.
  • You need to be a safety net and a sounding board. It’s important to know that there is always a path that we can carve out for ourselves. It helps to know that others have been there before.
  • My definition of advocacy is somebody who is able to speak highly of somebody when they are not in the room. For women in particular, it’s even more important because we are very few and far between in these critical roles. Those few who are there already are the ones who need to provide and to speak louder in terms of voicing their support. How are decisions made? Who are the people who are actually making those decisions? If everybody in the room is male or white, those who are not of that demographic never have a chance to have their voices heard in the conversation.
  • Knowing enough about the people who you mentor and their capabilities allow you to make sure that you are able to speak to them effectively in their time of need. In order to know somebody, you need to invest that time and effort in making sure that you understand what they bring to the table.

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