Neha Kar, a Scrum Leader and Chapter Lead at Fidelity Investments India, reflects on her career journey so far and how she has been able to work across multiple functional areas.

Describe your journey so far.

I come from a small town in the state of Madhya Pradesh in India and have had a very traditional, conservative family upbringing. Back in the early 2000s, moving to Bangalore for work was a significant step. An IT job was never on the cards as I was interested in pursuing management studies. However, life had other plans. A relative suggested that I participate in the hiring drive of a large services company in New Delhi. Since as a child I hadn’t traveled much, I thought this would be a good opportunity to see a new city. However, it was quite a task to convince my parents to allow me to attend the interview. They finally relented. The interview went pretty well, and three weeks later, I got the job (and I learnt about it at 2 AM one day!). That was quite a day, and now, 17 years later, as I look back, I can confidently, contentedly, and proudly say that it has been a great journey so far.

How did you land your role at Fidelity, and what was your reason for choosing this Company? 

I had a lot of friends working at financial service companies, one of which was Fidelity. It was through this friend that I learnt about the Company and its contrast from other companies. Later, I read more about the company, its history, business, culture, values, and ethics. I found an instant admiration for the Company and had a strong desire to join this storied institution. Thus began my journey with Fidelity in 2007 and I have been a part of this Company ever since, learning, exploring, and growing each day! I am very grateful to the Company and all the wonderful people I’ve had the pleasure of working with all these years.

Tell us more about your journey with Fidelity so far 

It’s been a fulfilling experience. During my tenure here, I’ve had the unique opportunity to work across various functional areas – product development, data engineering, analytics, and program management. I’ve experienced a great deal of support and mentorship at every point in my career, which has helped me grow from strength to strength. The ecosystem fosters holistic development, with exposure to the latest technologies all the time, dedicated learning days, myriad learning platforms, and periodic career mobility opportunities. All of this assures employees of the Company’s investment in them. One’s sense of belonging at an organization is greatly influenced by its culture and empathetic leadership, and my experience at Fidelity has truly endeared me to the Company.

Share some of the key highlights of your current role.

Fidelity Investments was among the first financial service organizations to implement agile principles at scale. Business, product, and marketing teams were aligned to cross-functional teams that were supported by agile tools, practices, and coaches, with a strong commitment to learning and skill development. I was fortunate to be a part of the Firm’s agile transformation journey and at some levels even help support its leadership through enablement and coaching. In my current role, I manage and support scrum leaders who primarily work within autonomous squads and teams across product areas, enabling them to grow and develop their knowledge, and ensure alignment on the ‘how’ of the work they perform. I also seek to ensure that the team composition in chapters aligns with strategic business priorities, including workforce planning that is vital to providing increased value and results for customers and the business.

In addition, I have had the opportunity to establish different communities of practice (CoPs) across roles at Fidelity Investments India. I am a firm believer in the strength of communities and the value they bring to organizations. In the last two years, the CoP that was established for scrum leaders at the Firm has engaged over 150 scrum leaders across business units, fostering cross-collaboration, scaling learning and networking opportunities, and supporting career mobility across the organization.

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

  • Individuals with a growth mindset, who are open to learning and are highly motivated
  • Passionate and enthusiastic individuals who love what they do and can articulate why they do it

Describe a hurdle that you were proud of crossing.

When my twin daughters were only a few months old, I decided to take a career break. On my way to the office on the last working day, I met with a major accident, which gave me little hope of ever walking properly again on two feet. However, a year later, I ran a half marathon. The career break lasted about a year and getting back to work was difficult. It needed a lot of willpower to devote time to learning and preparing for interviews while simultaneously caring for my one-year-olds and working to get back on my feet. To this day, the struggle of overcoming these obstacles and succeeding in what I do has brought me great satisfaction. I owe this to the support of my family, friends, and co-workers. The whole experience has taught me very valuable life lessons. I have learnt to believe in myself more and that nothing is impossible if you have the will and determination to do it. And sometimes, asking for help is the bravest thing you can do. I live my professional and personal life by these values.

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

I have received a few pieces of advice, which I have found very helpful:

  • Venture outside of your comfort zone, as often as you can.
  • Find a mentor and be a mentor.
  • Always ask. The worst that you could experience is that you’ll hear a “no”. You’ll at least get something more than what you started with.

What is your favorite quote?

“You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.” – Christopher Columbus

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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