Swapna Muthukrishnan, Chapter Area Leader – Asset Management Technology, Fidelity India, talks about her enriching career journey and the learnings she has assimilated along the way to thrive as a competent technologist and inspiring leader.
Tell us about your career journey.
My journey has been that of a path well-travelled by veterans in the industry. A college-topper in Computer Science and an engineering graduate, I began my career as a developer, grew into an architect, and then ventured into management.
I spent the first nine years of my career in the banking and financial services industry (BFSI) understanding money, investments, and the economy at large. During this period, I worked with several leading companies in the space.
I spent the next nine years with Walmart Labs, being one of the initial employees to join when Walmart set up their India Development Center. I joined the organization as an architect and made my way up into the leadership team. During my tenure, I explored various leadership roles while keeping my focus on technology intact.
I believe that my years of experience in the technology sector have uniquely positioned me to drive value while operating in an agile mode and utilizing various channels to develop, grow, attract, and retain some of the best talent in the industry.
Apart from technology, I am also familiar with talent development aspects such as learning and development, recruitment, HR policymaking, and benefits.
I am currently focused on creating value for organizations by delivering speed-to-market solutions while maintaining world-class quality.
What made you join Fidelity?
Given my exposure to technology and leadership, I wanted to leverage my skills in a new domain and joined Fidelity in August, 2020. Fidelity has been an industry-renowned name for its technology prowess and associate-centric culture.
The customer obsession Fidelity displays both externally and internally and its focus on authentic leadership were also some of the aspects that I found to be appealing.
Could you tell us a little about your current role at Fidelity and your journey with the Firm so far?
In my current role in Asset Management, I am part of the team that seeks to provide technology solutions for this business of Fidelity. We are organized into product teams with a direct connect with our end-users. We envision, design, and deliver cutting-edge solutions to give our business a competitive advantage.
In my portfolio, I deal with high-yield product investment offerings and a distribution channel for high-net-worth institutional clients. Nothing is more exciting than understanding how a decision made or feature built in one part of a system can have a potential impact either positively or negatively on the other.
To understand the bigger picture, technologists need to expand beyond just their technical skills into understanding their end-users and the purpose of their work. I feel fortunate to be a part of an organization that focuses on enabling diversity and building an inclusive culture, thereby enabling its associates to think out of the box.
Tell us about some of the attributes and aspects that define you as a successful leader at Fidelity.
At Fidelity, we promote a culture where we appreciate individual ideas and motivate our employees to never compromise on the integrity of our solutions. As a leader, I am motivated to bring my authentic self to work every day, with an unwavering focus on improving our products and services while elevating my own technical skills to become an even better technologist.
What is the best advice you have received as a professional?
If I must choose, here will be my top two. These two quotes from two very different leaders have always helped me push through whenever I have encountered a difficult situation:
“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” – Thomas A. Edison
“If you fail, never give up because F.A.I.L. means ‘First Attempt In Learning’. End is not the end, in fact, E.N.D. means ‘Effort Never Dies’.” – A.P.J. Abdul Kalam
Tell us about the attributes you would look for in a person you would want to hire for your team.
Confidence and humility are the key attributes I look for in a team member. These attributes can only be manifested when your fundamental values are strong, you have explored the limits of your technical skills, and have mentored others along the way.
Some of the other attributes I look for are a willingness to learn, an ability to explore the unknown and challenge conventional ideas, and domain competencies.
Describe a hurdle that you were proud of crossing.
When I began my career, it used to be a dream for a woman to be a successful technologist even while balancing family priorities. Having been able to successfully manage both my career and family, while mentoring others to be successful, I would say this is a hurdle I have been proud of crossing.
Your favorite quote/ saying/ song.
“Be the Change you want to see.” This quote inspires me to get up and try to address the problems that confront us, and not just complain about them.