Swati Malik joined Blue Yonder six months ago and found the fit to be perfect for her IT skills. She lives in Bengaluru, India. Starting her career in finance, Swati made the move to IT and has not looked back. She admits to being a very quiet person who has learned to be more extroverted. She shared that when she reflects back on the decisions she made to get to where she is today, ‘these are things that give you a good balance of who you are at the end of the day.’
Tell us about yourself.
I grew up in Hyderabad, India, which is in the southern part of the country. I grew up as an only child. We didn’t have a lot of extracurricular activities when I was growing up, so I loved the time spent in school as it had huge playgrounds, a well-equipped library, an opportunity to be a part of drama and recitals, and allowed me to spend time with good friends. In school, I had a liking for the languages, which included Hindi – the native language in India – and English. I went to college and completed my Chartered Accountancy or CA, which is equivalent to a CPA in the U.S.
What was your first job out of college?
My first job was while I was still studying. To get your CPA in India, you must do a practical training, which is on-the-job training. I worked for three years practicing under a Chartered accountant. I received a lot of training around corporate finance law, how companies are run, and more. It was a great experience.
How did you come into IT from Finance?
A lot of people ask me that question! It was the early 2000’s and IT was booming in India. I was offered an opportunity at an IT services company and took a chance to try something new. I thought, ‘I can always come back to finance.’ That opportunity was a combo of finance and IT. However, as time passed, it became more focused on the IT side. The company was responsible for implementing and supporting Oracle Financials ERP for different clients worldwide. That then led me to working for Oracle; they had an opportunity in a similar role so I went for it.
Did you see yourself working in IT?
Definitely not when I was studying. I thought I would join the government administrative services. Every point in my life has been a new change and a new learning. When I got into IT, I really enjoyed it and have stuck with it.
How did you end up at Blue Yonder?
Coming to Blue Yonder was a chance experience that knocked at my door. I had been setting up teams to lead and manage support for enterprise and SMB customers in the on-premise and cloud space. Blue Yonder was looking for someone to help transition the support teams from on-prem to SaaS. It was a great opportunity to use my experience in on-prem and cloud. It was also the perfect opportunity to take the next leap in my career. I’ve always enjoyed building teams, problem solving, and transitioning teams. The opportunity would allow me to take customer success to the next level. It’s been a good experience helping the organization make the transition from an on-prem mindset to a SaaS mindset.
Can you point to a critical moment in your career that really made a difference in your path?
I was always passionate about people management. Early on I had the opportunity to set up a new team for a new product. It was one of those changing moments for me as the project had a lot of challenges, mainly not enough resources. It was almost like a startup. We had to think of innovative ways to reach out to customers and support them. But the journey was worth it as after a few years, the team became well recognized in terms of the level of service that we were providing. A lot of my learning came by trying, doing and failing. Through that journey, I realized I was good at people management. After that experience, I started to look for new initiatives that I could be part of where I could use my skills.
What do you wish you knew when you were starting out that you know now?
One of the lessons I have learned is that everything comes to you at the right time and when you need it. I tell everyone to be open to opportunities, accept it, learn and grow with it.
What is the best advice you ever received? Who gave it to you?
The best advice was from my manager when I first took a managerial role. He said: “Remember, the moment you take on a management role you are always on a stage and people are watching you. Everybody’s expectations are different so always be conscious of that.” He was right as you become more aware of your thoughts and decisions and how they impact those around you—whether it’s an employee, peer or someone above you.
What advice do you have for someone taking on a leadership role for the first time?
My advice would be:
- Be open to learning from anybody and everybody.
- Take on new experiences.
- Learn to have very open conversations with your people. If you can build that trust, you can build credibility.
- Be clear about your expectations. If you spell out the expectations and how you like to work, it helps set the pace.
- Never think you know it all. Be open to listening to other people’s opinions.
How do you support and develop emerging and current leaders’ leadership capabilities?
I love to mentor. I’ve started mentoring associates at Blue Yonder. Outside of work, I connect with a few forums where I can mentor women who are looking to get back to work after a break or people graduating college who are trying to understand their career options.