Usha Rangarajan, a Chapter Leader in the Fidelity Fund and Investment Operations (FFIO) Technology team at Fidelity Investments, India, began her journey with Fidelity in 2003, and was among the first employees when Fidelity launched operations in India. In this blog post, Usha shares her journey of growth, her experience with the Firm, and lessons learnt along the way.

 

Tell us about your career journey.

“Excellence is not by accident. It is a process, where an individual, organization, or nation continuously strives to better oneself.” – Abdul Kalam

After completing my Master’s degree in Political Science and Economics, I decided to pursue my dream of a career in software engineering by enrolling in a Post Graduate Diploma program in Computer Science. To ensure a sound foundation, I also pursued over a dozen certifications in various related areas such as technical project management and Agile. I believe in being a lifelong learner and am currently undergoing a Post Graduate program in Business Analytics and Data Science.

While I began my career in a non-IT industry, I always knew that I wanted to build a career in information technology (IT). I never gave up on my dream and eventually successfully joined the IT industry after a career break. It was not easy at that time, as there were not many opportunities and professional programs to support women planning to return to work after a career break. I began my journey in IT as a release engineer in SunGard Solutions (later acquired by Ellucian). After a brief stint in the non-IT retail banking industry, I joined Fidelity.

What made you join Fidelity?

I was among the first employees of Fidelity Investments, India in 2003 when the Firm began operations here. Fidelity was a well-established name in the US with a stellar reputation in financial planning and investment management. However, since the Firm was just beginning operations in India, I didn’t have much of a reference point in terms of what the future had in store for me. What I had was a strong sense of conviction and a feeling that “all will be well”. This gut feeling prompted me to take a leap of faith and join Fidelity.

Over the years, I have witnessed Fidelity Investments, India grow and become a microcosm of the enterprise. When I look back, I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for everything that this organization has given me – opportunities to interact with inspiring leaders, sound values, a transparent communication approach, and a strong ecosystem of support.

Could you tell us a little about your current role at Fidelity and your journey with the Firm so far?

I began my journey with Fidelity as a Quality Assurance Specialist in the Enterprise Infrastructure (EI) group. EI is focused on providing a systematic approach to managing the Firm’s IT infrastructure in order to manage risk, strengthen customer relations, establish cost-effective practices, and build a stable IT environment that allows room for growth, scale, and change. In this role, I learned about the domain, leadership behaviors, and collaboration styles from both my colleagues and leadership.

As I progressed in my role, I steadily built on my strengths of being a quick learner, having an eye for detail, and passion to excel, to serve our customers even better. These strengths enabled me to expand my skills and dabble in different roles, including being a Business Analyst in the Middle and Back Office Asset Management team in FFIO Technology, India – my current group.

The Firm’s open and inclusive culture has enabled me to develop my project and product management skills over the years, thereby providing me opportunities to lead delivery for technology teams focused on providing business-focused solutions. Change is the only constant in our fast-paced digital era, and to keep pace with it, I actively worked on developing the Agile transformation roadmap for our team. I am grateful for all the other opportunities that came my way as well to manage releases and test automation engineering portfolios for the business.

Today, I manage the analytics and data science portfolios in the FFIO business unit in India, which specializes in providing an analytics strategy and digital solutions for our businesses along with moving Fidelity forward in the current competitive landscape. I am grateful to be a part of an environment that enables a culture of continuous learning and encourages employees to constantly upskill, gain new experiences, and pursue their aspirations to their fullest potential.

Growing your network and relationships is a need of the hour, and Fidelity provides support and encouragement to work with a diverse talent pool through our employee resource groups such as the Women in Technology Special Interest Group (WITSIG). I am fortunate to be an active contributor and once Co-Chair of this group, which is focused on creating an environment that encourages, empowers, and engages current and potential women technologists.

Tell us about some of the attributes and aspects that define you as a successful leader at Fidelity.

Here are a few attributes that I believe a leader should possess to succeed at Fidelity:

  • Strive for excellence in everything you deliver through collaboration and a creative mindset.
  • Promote a learning culture. Be open, flexible, and willing to learn continually. Fidelity supports its employees by providing them a vast library of resources, so that they can build healthy and successful professional careers. Take advantage of these programs.
  • Be flexible and nimble when it comes to change, and constantly keep an eye out for opportunities, whether big or small.

What is the best advice you have received as a professional?

There is an opportunity waiting to be tapped in everything that you encounter. Be alert, self-aware, and seize the moment whenever possible, and success will be yours.

What are the attributes you look for in a person you would want to hire for your team?

Here are a few attributes I look for in a candidate:

  • Ability to lead from the front, embracing the mindset of a ’leader who serves’.
  • Ability to come up with innovative ideas and think strategically
  • Ability to nurture, groom, and demonstrate an inclusive mindset towards motivating a diverse talent pool

Describe a hurdle that you were proud of crossing.

I strongly believe that there’s a solution for every problem, no matter how overwhelming it may appear. There have been several occasions where I have had to work hard and take accountability and ownership to achieve the desired outcomes. Whi