Madhu Ravindran, Chapter Leader – Data Engineering and Exchange, Workplace Investing (WI) Technology, Fidelity Investments India, is a seasoned technology leader with a diverse portfolio. Madhu defines her approach to work and life with the quote “Be Bold, Be Brave, Be You”. With her nimbleness, dedication, resilience, and commitment to excellence, Madhu is a trusted member of the WI Technology India leadership team. She is adept at building high-performing global teams and fostering strong relationships with partners across levels. She is a catalyst of inclusive change across segments and genders – helping employees transform themselves and experience success in their careers. In the following interview, Madhu shares snippets from her career journey, aspirations, and personal perspectives.
Describe your journey so far.
It all began 29 years ago. I had just completed my bachelor’s degree program in computer science and an Honors program in the same subject with the aim of further enhancing my skills. With a passion for business studies and my mind set on pursuing a master’s degree in business administration, I had my next step clearly laid out in my mind… or so I thought, until I received two campus job offers. Not wanting to ignore the opportunity for financial independence, I took on the job and pursued an executive master’s degree in business administration in parallel with my work. Three years later, I achieved the degree as a gold medalist, topping the university. My dream was to become an entrepreneur and launch my own business. However, life had other plans for me… better and brighter ones that began with an exhilarating transatlantic trip from Chennai to Boston. That was when I joined Fidelity, and here’s the rest of the story.
Growing up, my dad’s transferable job provided me diverse experiences along with an ability to approach things practically and adapt to changes easily. This has helped me navigate my life and career choices with dexterity and strike a balance in making both areas reasonably successful.
How did you land your role at Fidelity, and what was your reason for choosing this Company?
I especially appreciate the Company’s values, people, and culture! I vividly remember the day I landed at the Logan Airport in Boston. Walking down the pedestrian bridges, I saw the Fidelity Investments billboard and its message caught my eye. It was about the need for financial independence. That resonated with me. Later, I learnt more about the Company from my friends. Its values aroused my curiosity, especially the way it prioritizes integrity and trust towards its customers. Eventually, the discussions I had with the people I met on the day of my interview sealed the deal for me. Twenty-three years later, I can confidently say that I wouldn’t have asked for anything different. The people I get to work with, the Company’s diverse and inclusive culture that makes me feel welcome, the empathy and constant encouragement that is showered on me, and the peace of mind and comfort that the Firm provides employees through its thoughtful and caring array of benefits are just some of the aspects that make the experience at the Firm truly priceless.
Tell us more about your journey with Fidelity so far.
Over the last 23 years, since I began my career as a programmer in the US, I have played several roles, from that of a developer to a multi-functional leader, and later the leader of global teams owning multiple end-to-end program deliveries at Fidelity. Two years ago, I returned to India. In my current role, l lead the Data Engineering and Exchange Chapter area in the WI India Technology team that drives cross-product solutions and transformation across all facets of customers’ data journeys. My responsibilities involve managing cross-functional teams that deliver implementations, platform governance, personalization, process automation and transformation, data modeling and support. I’m always excited about the opportunities that are available for me to leverage my international experience to help our team in India make a mark on Fidelity’s global map.
Share some of the key highlights of your current role.
We are organized as self-sufficient product teams located globally across the US, India, and Ireland, and embrace the agile approach to IT delivery. My organization helps ideate on and build intuitive, next-gen, low-code, low-maintenance platforms using our cloud and product-pricing strategy. Towards this, we adopt a customer-centric and design-first approach with the goal of enabling greater value for the business and improving speed-to-market.
Some of the key differentiators have included:
- Enabling a startup culture in the true spirit of being agile, which has led to the transformation of people, processes, and systems
- Upskilling employees from business support and operations-focused functions to more software development-oriented roles. I help identify cross-utilization and rotational job opportunities and encourage a learning culture with a healthy mix of talent mobility, which has enabled better work distribution and work-life integration for our people. This has also helped reduce the number of areas with single points of failure.
- Pioneering non-traditional hiring, which has paved the way for more inclusiveness, cross-culture integration, and community engagement
What is the best advice you have received as a professional?
Always carry and display your authentic self!
What are some of the attributes you look for in a person you would want to hire for your team?
I believe in the principle of ‘hire for attitude and train for skill’. I look for people who are coachable and bring diverse thought processes, a positive and curious mindset, and the ability to communicate with confidence.
Describe a hurdle that you were proud of crossing.
Once, I was working on developing an automation solution for the business that I knew would be the right thing to do for the organization. Although it was not a popular choice for various reasons, I stood firm by it and kept motivating the team to do the same. Six months later, the alternate solution that was taken up in lieu of the solution I had proposed didn’t meet compliance requirements. As a result, the business team came back to my proposal and this turned out to be a huge success that exceeded expectations, resulting in cost, process, and people efficiencies. That was a proud moment for me – that I was able to stand firmly by my conviction that the solution would drive the right outcomes for the business.
What is your favorite quote?
“Your mind is a magnet! If you think of blessings, you attract blessings. If you think of problems, you attract problems. Always cultivate good thoughts and always remain positive and optimistic.” – Author unknown
Views expressed are as of the date indicated and may change. Unless otherwise noted, the opinions provided are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Fidelity Investments.
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