Ritu Mahandru is the Vice President of DevOps EMEA at CA Technologies.  Ritu’s responsibilities include designing and implementing the EMEA go-to-market strategy for application delivery.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?  Ritu

Not in a structured way, I knew I wanted financial independence and wanted to travel – that meant I needed to work!

Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?

Looking back, there were several challenges, more so later in my career than earlier.  In the early stages of my career, I was just hungry for experience, I took every opportunity to enrich myself and learn different facets of a software business.  As I advanced more I needed to focus on other aspects of my self development, having the right experience and background was not always enough.  My way of dealing with them was to be brutally honest with myself about my shortcomings, and then work on them.  Living in denial is a challenge in itself.

What advice would you give someone who wishes to move in to a leadership position for the first time?

Choose the timing, you have to be sure it is what you want to do and the time is right, invest time in your self-development and look for good role models and mentors who you can learn from, and always remain authentic.

 When faced with two equally-qualified candidates, how would you decide who should have the role?

People who show real passion and authenticity, they are key to building high performing teams with a common purpose.  People who show potential, and who want to really make a difference will always stand out, these would be key decision criteria for me.

 How do you manage your own boss?

I have 3 bosses!  My main boss is based in Switzerland, so the geographic distance does mean that we do not have the opportunity for impromptu discussions/meetings etc.  I have a monthly 1-1 with my boss and outside of that, we probably speak on the phone very 8-10 days, on an individual basis.  We have a number of scheduled ‘group’ touch points.  I make sure that he never gets any surprises, I keep him informed of key important changes/updates in my business. I also advise him early when I see a storm brewing, just to make sure he understands the rationale behind decisions I may take…so the key is regular communication.  I also try and make sure I provide my boss with an opportunity to gain insight into my team of direct reports, that is always important to build insight into my leadership style and also for succession planning.

On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?

For the last 20+ years, my work day has always started with my husband bringing me a cup of tea while I get ready for work!  I deliberately leave my mobile phone in the downstairs office, so whilst getting ready, I have no idea of the deluge of emails I have had overnight, and can think through my day.  If possible, I always try and have breakfast with my daughters before heading out.  Of course there are exceptions, especially when I am traveling and leave the house at 5am, but when I am home, I make the most of it!  My day when I am at home always ends with me reading my favourite novel before going to sleep,  I am an avid reader and find escaping into someone else’s world helps me sleep much better!

What advice can you give to our members about raising their profiles within their own organisations?

I believe before raising your profile, you should decide what you want to be known for – is it that you are a direct, straight talking person, or that you are great at building teams etc…decide what you want your brand to be, then live and be the brand, even when no one is watching!  Ensure you know your stakeholders well, map out the people you need to interact with to ensure you can be successful in your role and set up a regular cadence with them…the best way to raise your profile is to know your brand,live it, communicate well and be visible.

How have you benefited from coaching or mentoring?

Yes – I was surprisingly impressed by how useful this was for me.

Do you think networking is important and if so, what 3 tips would you give to a newbie networker?

External networking is very important – I would use the advice on raising your internal profile.  It is important to know what you want to achieve and want you want to present about yourself, otherwise a lot of time and energy can be spent without achieving any tangible goals.

What does the future hold for you?

I love working in the software world and seeing the change that technology brings to everyday lives.  I would love to see more women in tech and hope that events like these will encourage and make more young girls and women curious.  I would love to set up a social enterprise that does something for women in tech…that would be a great combination for me!