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Obstacles and Challenges Within a Career Plan

Internal Communication
Cross-Functional Collaboration

7 February, 2022

Pradeep Chankarachan
Pradeep Chankarachan

Digital/IT Leader | ex CIO | Board Director of Startup Accelerator at Micron Technology

Pradeep Chankarachan,Head of IT EA at Micron Technology, Board Director of Startup Accelerator Junction P talks about holding his horses while mastering the art of growing his career to where he ultimately wanted to be.

Aspiring for Something You Want

It’s a common predicament: growing in engineering and IT roles within an organization brings immense challenges. I aspired to become CIO at some point; more than the title, it was about holding the broader IT elements. When I was looking for roles in that area, I had to invest about five years in understanding the shape of the career. The biggest struggle was to cut across horizontals while strengthening my cores. I might have been an expert in one area, but how could I broaden my expertise to become a technology leader? To add to that, there are limited roles in an organization that did not open many doors for me either.

Observe, Communicate and Execute

To begin with, I started looking at the career growth of different executives in the roles I was interested in. Often, I recognized how a CIO had grown themselves from other parts of the domain. Further findings involved looking into how to take a role within an IT organization, which had the maximum visibility across functions. In this way, I found that roles came with a decade of experience, while other parts involved cutting across domains.

When I changed my role from tech professional services into IT, I first took a program management role, which was all about cross-functional program execution. That gave me exposure in three ways:

  • I was exposed to significant program visibility and its impact on the organization.
  • I was able to bring multiple functions together because the program required various entities to work and lead together.
  • I established a team that did not directly report to me, but we could get work done for a common purpose with a shared goal.

Per my observation from other leaders, I realized that it is important to become an influencer to bring the team members for a common purpose. Creating a team and being a change influencer is all it takes for a leader to move the needle forward. Those became my continuous stepping stones to look at.

Furthermore, I looked at portfolios and mergers and acquisitions kinds of projects, where we could do a playbook to understand the elements coming in. Moving forward, I’d apply my expertise to bring the IT and engineering knowledge together to build that. Although these were the primary responsibilities I was supposed to be taking over, my vested interest in doing that was understanding how everything was coming together.

To get a grasp of an organization, you need to follow three approached:

Finance: where the costs are incurred and how the stakeholders are aligned on spending. Deepening the integration of finance into understanding how the teams are formed.The same goes on the revenue side of the equation.

Manufacturing: we looked at how the raw materials come as a part of the finished goods. I was a part of both the manufacturing and consumer business that enabled me to understand how the different parts came together.

System and People Interaction: how people interacted with each other. It’s not always about the organizational structure, but a lot about “who is a product engineer / process analyst associated with?”. The leading indicators are to look left and right of a process till a logical loop is formed.

I always opted for cost-saving initiatives because I liked how the numbers were built, and it was also a good discovery survey within the organization. You cannot optimize unless you know how it is all stacked up. When there is a larger objective for the organization to optimize certain elements, I volunteered because each piece gave me a new dimension. In essence, I could perceive the following steps from where we stood and what the next steps would be.

Be Empathetic and Understanding

  • When we utilize the information and don’t conclude in the first step but triangulate from various aspects. For example, going down to an engineering level and understanding if that is why specific processes are delayed. What you see from the top-level, validate it from a ground level. Learn to digest the first-hand information as is and then validate it with different stakeholders.
  • Understand specific processes from another perspective. As I moved in my roles, I was consciously able to remove my engineering, IT-only leader to someone who talks in the business context and forums and language to get back information to what we had. The ability to convert based on the context ensures that nothing is lost in the translation.

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