Priya Parthasarathy, Vice President – India Operations (IO) at Fidelity Investments India, is a versatile leader who inspires associates with her empathetic leadership style, customer-centric attitude, and unwavering passion for learning and promoting diversity and inclusion. In this interview, Priya shares nuggets from her career journey, leadership style, and personal perspectives.
Tell us about your career journey so far.
I am a commerce graduate and a cost and works accountant by academic qualification. I began my career with GE Capital in the reinsurance and underwriting space, spending six years across operations, transitions, process reengineering, and operations excellence. Thereafter, I spent 14 years in the capital markets operations space specializing in investment banking, and managed global derivative operations for Deutsche Bank, Northern Trust, and Goldman Sachs.
I had an opportunity to lead transformation projects as part of the role, to drive efficiencies, standardization, enhanced client experiences, mitigate risks, and reduce the cost per trade. Some of my key priorities included change management, transformation, and driving end-to-end process reengineering, along with the ownership of bank deliverables with a focus on people priorities. Continuous learning has been always my personal priority, with the aim of keeping myself constantly relevant and up to date on the latest in my space. Throughout my career, I have pursued several work-related trainings and certifications, ensuring that I complete at least a couple of them every year as a personal goal. I have also sought to get hands-on experience in projects and initiatives wherever possible. All of this has kept me going and given me a sense of satisfaction.
What was your reason for choosing Fidelity?
After spending a considerable amount time within the same domain, I was keen to take up something different and came across the opportunity with Fidelity in the Workplace Investing Operations space, in March 2019. Besides the new domain, I was very impressed with how the organization places a strong emphasis on employee wellbeing, career vitality, training, and development, while at the same time ensuring a strong focus on the needs of its customers as well. The organization’s focus and priorities resonated well with my own values system, and I decided to join Fidelity. I made some good connections and friends during my interview process, and I would give full credit to all those who gave me the confidence to take the plunge, step out of my comfort zone, and join the organization.
Tell us a little more about the work you do at Fidelity.
I am part of the India Operations team at Fidelity Investments India, which provides record-keeping services for its clients and their employees in the defined contribution space. The team is responsible for providing timely services and support to its participants (end customers) for their 401K accounts. In our constant effort to provide best-in-class services to our customers, we continue to focus on ways to make the process even more efficient and lean, reduce handoffs, cut down the cycle time, be extremely sensitive to the current needs of our customers and their evolving requirements, mitigate the risk exposure to the firm, and promote collaboration across groups and functions.
Besides this, at India Operations, we offer a wide spectrum of services catering to various Fidelity Financial Services businesses. Our operations range from simple transaction-based work to complex offerings that are analytical-, numerical- and knowledge-based. Examples of the types of work within India Operations include financial operations, retirement calculations, client data management, implementations (IT/ technical skill-oriented), reporting and business intelligence services, content solutions, middle office capabilities, quality and business process reengineering services, and client conversion and de-conversion services.
As an India Operations leader, I work with our leadership to promote opportunities for career vitality and learning for our employees, while also promoting diversity and inclusion at the workplace, so that our employees can bring their best selves to work.
What has been your most memorable moment at Fidelity so far?
I would say that every day at work has been memorable, thanks to the several opportunities my team gives me to learn from them. The kind of passion they bring to the workplace and the various initiatives that we lead for the firm fills me with an immense sense of satisfaction and pride. The firm provides employees several opportunities to participate in global forums and drive its key priorities through relevant initiatives. This really helps in widening one’s thought processes, fosters a sense of community, empowers us to drive transformational change, and strengthens collaboration across groups and geographies. I would want to call out how the firm rose to the occasion to support our employees and their near and dear ones during the COVID-19 pandemic, which demonstrated its care and commitment to employees in a real and tangible way.
What is the best advice you have received as a professional?
At one point in my career, when I was going through a challenging period owing to the critical nature of the work involved, my manager stood by me and gave me valuable words of advice that I will never forget: “There is no substitute for hard work, and all the work and effort you put in will get its due credit in the future.” She was right, and the team was slowly able to evolve and build a very strong brand for itself, with outstanding results for our clients. I felt that all the hard work we had put in had indeed yielded fruit.
What attributes would you say are essential to be a successful leader?
To my mind, the following are a few attributes that I believe a leader should possess to be successful at Fidelity and indeed any other workplace:
- We should promote innovation and strive for excellence in everything we deliver, through collaboration and working across the organization.
- Promote a learning culture. Be open, flexible, and willing to learn constantly. At Fidelity, employees are provided access to a vast library of resources, so that we can build healthy and successful professional careers. As leaders, we should ensure employees are encouraged to actively make use of such resources for their career growth and development.
- Be flexible, agile, and nimble when it comes to dealing with change, and make use of opportunities for continuous improvement.
- Stay customer-obsessed and be a coach to the team, to bring out their best.
What are the attributes you look for in a person you would want to hire for your team?
Some of the attributes I would particularly look for include:
- Bringing different perspectives to the table
- Being able to appreciate the differences among people, having a positive attitude, and being a team player
- Ability to build trust among team members with maturity, compassion, and empathy
Your favorite quote.
I have a couple of favorite quotes:
“Compassion and tolerance are not signs of weakness but of strength.” – Dalai Lama
“Kindness begins with the understanding that we all struggle.” – Charles Glassman
I strongly believe that the qualities of empathy, kindness, and a non-judgmental attitude towards others help one to be always at peace with oneself and others.