Perseverance With a Pinch of Grit
Kranthi Remala is a senior software engineer at JDA in Hyderabad. During her decade-long stint at JDA she’s learned from mentors, colleagues and family lessons that motivate and inspire her to reach higher and achieve more. She’s a believer in always learning, never giving up, and that trust above all, is what makes a great leader.
Where did you grow up? Where do you live now?
I primarily have grown up in Hyderabad though I did spend a couple of my younger years in Mumbai. I have lived in Hyderabad now for more than 20 years.
Tell us a little about yourself.
Apart from coding, I am a dreamer and love to be creative. I get attracted to designing or creative tasks. That also brings me to my love for photography. It all began quite young as I love nature and the beauty of small and typically unnoticed things. When life permits, I’d like to travel and capture more of nature.
What was your first job (ever)?
In 2007, I got my first offer as a Software Developer in a Product Development company called iMotions, headquartered in Denmark with its development center in Hyderabad. I helped develop a licensing system for the software offerings of the company, which was primarily generating cognitive eye tracking software.
How did you land a career in supply chain?
Honestly, I never thought I’d be in supply chain. In December 2008, my father read an article on warehouse management and thus described to me what supply chain meant in simple terms – as enterprise software that deals with inventory and a managing warehouse. That was my first exposure to it.
I did not have the slightest clue that I’d end up in a company like JDA and thread my way through the supply chain world in the retail space.
Today, as I look back, somehow that moment reminds me of how life comes to you like a blessing, as JDA came to me as the first offer after leaving my job at iMotions. Now, nearly 10 years later, I am still proud to be at JDA!
What was your first job at JDA? How did your career progress from there?
I joined in June 2009 as an associate software developer for the JDA Enterprise Planning and Knowledge Base team that was forming in Hyderabad.
JDA is a place where you are free to explore your career and create your own path in your role. The first year inspired me to understand the culture and company. I was quite nervous, yet JDA was absolutely welcoming and warm.
During my second year, one of the consulting teams needed a technical person and a skip-level manager who I found quite approachable yet highly motivating, asked me to join their team. I jumped into it as my first consulting project. It was a totally unique experience, working on my daily team tasks and the consulting project simultaneously. It was exciting, challenging and highly experiential. It was a small team but very energizing and led to me achieving one of my secret desires: earning my first ever global quarterly JDA Performer Award in Q1 2011. I am grateful to the managers and leaders whose confidence in me led to that recognition. That day, April 27, 2011, is still is a day I remember!
As years passed, the team changed, and the solution has evolved, but I have still had the opportunity to make major contributions to JDA within the Enterprise Planning team.
During this time, how did you engage within JDA beyond your core role?
At JDA, it’s not just about work and customers, it’s truly about making life even more worthwhile. There were a lot of community activities going on all the time and I wanted to get involved. I began to volunteer for the Blood Donation Drive in 2010 and worked with some amazing associates who I proudly can say are some of my best friends for life! In 2013-2015, I had the opportunity to lead the volunteer chapter for Hyderabad, which helped me grow tremendously, increasing my ability to understand people, domains, operational behavior and ways of life.
What about your career surprises you?
Many people jump to distinct roles or companies or stay at a company 2-3 years and then move on. It’s quite interesting in my case though. I have been with Enterprise Planning for a long time, yet I feel at home. People ask if I am tired of JDA but I instinctively say no. JDA has been a place where I felt I belonged for years now, despite the challenges. It is where I belong and there’s so much more to explore. It is not about being on the same team. People come and go, and the product has evolved, so there has been a something new along the way. I have been in product development from the beginning and progressing on the same product line, but I find opportunities that make me a better person. Yes, there have been fleeting stagnating moments many times, yet it surprises me to have stayed at one job and one company for as long as I have. It is always fresh. I am always learning and growing.
What makes JDA a great place for women to work?
We have tremendous opportunity here for women and men alike. We are free to explore our horizons, think in different directions, seize the opportunities we see or expand them. There are no limits! Our leaders and managers are always inviting us to go one step ahead and take the leap. The best part – if you are ready for it, is that we are empowered to become leaders. The leadership programs at JDA inspire me. I have witnessed many outshine themselves and become great leaders at JDA. As Girish says, we are a culture, not a company – and with that comes respect, trust and support. It starts with us, and our intent.
What is the best advice you ever received? Who gave it to you?
My dad says never give up. It is easy to give up. It takes a split second to go down and stop fighting but takes the same split second with a lot more courage to reverberate in strength! One day, I lost two interviews when I was applying for jobs and he sent me a poem and printed it out, that read “Don’t quit” He always makes me go take that extra mile, thus enabling me to persevere. I couple it with what my mom always keeps saying: Never forget your ethics and morals. Above all, this should stay with you no matter what. I am who I am today because of my parents. They made me who I am!
Who is your role model?
Each person is glaringly unique in this world and I take pockets of inspiration from everyone I come across. Some have truly touched my life while some have made me ponder into expanding my horizons while few of them have taught me how not to be!
There have been quite a bunch of change bringers in my life, each of them who taught me great things: a previous manager I had worked with, before JDA, who gifted me the art of learning something each day. There was a Solution Architect at JDA that I worked with in my early on years, who apprised the significance of creating a robust product. He said to consider whatever you make like a car you are going to drive for years.
I also look at my friends who have over the years, become my role models. One such friend told me – ‘Perfection is overrated for it stops you from winning before you win.” Yet, along the way, I’d suggest buy in only what is right for you, with kindness and gratitude, from anyone, because are unique and the world would like to celebrate you.
What is the one characteristic you believe every leader should possess?
Honesty with trust, along with perseverance and empathy. Unless you are honest about what you intend, what you like to see and make happen, what your end goal is, you cannot expect the same from your team or get what must be done with mutual respect and motivation. Effort is important, but if you aren’t honest, you are bound to fail. The key to trust is letting it build for it cannot be achieved through force. It must be organically garnered and surely takes time to develop. Alas, do not forget to power up your leadership algorithms, trained with empathy, as this can offer a great deal of perspective!
Have you ever found yourself as the only woman in a meeting? How did that feel?
Yes, several times. Thankfully, at least I am comfortable, but there were times I was the only one presenting and group of men looking at me with either weird expressions or absolutely blank masks as I spoke. I couldn’t get a single nod from them or notion that what I was saying resonated. It was quite intimidating.
Guess what, I realized, the problem isn’t necessarily them. It is also about our own inhibitions, and how we end up overpowering those fears when dealing with them. There are several books on emotional IQ than can help handling some tough situations. I recommend The Power of your Subconscious Mind, by Joseph Murphy, which can help one cope with fallacies that overpower the truth behind circumstances.
In fact, men are very supportive, if only we set aside our judgements and insecurities, we’ll realize they can end up being our biggest pillars of strength. Over the years, the experiences have only proven to be rewarding as we end up learning a lot from each other.
What advice to you have for young women seeking a career in tech?
The world is changing at the speed of a gigahertz per second! Thus, it becomes crucial to be as ambitious as ever. You need to have a plan and adapt quickly. Capture your goals, determine your vision, then formulate your plans and network to help you advance swiftly. Work for the position of your dreams virtuously because it can just take a day to dive into the world of mediocrity.
Like Chetan Bhagat said – ‘stay hungry, stay foolish, be creative and outspoken. Do not fear!’
What book(s) are you reading right now?
There is a book called Right Body for You by Donnielle Carter and Gary Douglas. It was given to me by a friend and though it is more on the self-help side, it talks all about what to do to be true to you and what is right for you. This book is about how to be grateful to yourself and who you truly are.
My dad gifted me the Mastery Manual and it is about how leaders can hone their leadership skills, despite running a tireless routine. I admit, I just started it and hope to find some great wisdom there.
I have also started to read Mindset and already, I can see how it can open a lot of mental mind blocks that comes with how to progress with your day to day life.
And personally, I love Harry Potter! As much as it is a fun read any day, any chapter, these set of seven books carry a lot of lessons from dealing with people, situations and to fight them all out with absolute courage, loyalty, benevolence and a sense of mutual understanding.
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