Rama Tadepalli Co-Founder at Mintoak Innovations, a digital payments fintech shares her journey, her thoughts on risks, opportunities and how her career has shaped up.
Rama has about 22+ years of professional experience across diverse industries such as retail, telecom, banking, cards, and online grocery retail. Rama has held leadership positions with revenue responsibilities at Hutchison Telecom, Reliance Retail, Unilever, HDFC Bank, and Tata Capital.
Prior to this entrepreneurial stint, Rama was the head of Products and Innovation for Visa India and South Asia. Rama has a Master’s degree in International Business from the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, Delhi and is also a post-graduate in Mathematics from Delhi University. Edited Excerpts:
Q. How do you view your career trajectory? How exciting has it been for you?
I feel quite fortunate to have worked across multiple industries. It gave me an opportunity to appreciate different businesses and also the ability to see a common thread in customer management. While it has had its challenges, the journey has been super exciting. The reason I truly appreciate diverse perspectives is purely because of the diverse businesses I have had exposure to.
Q. Has it been going as you had planned or was it more like you tapped opportunities as they came along?
When one starts out the plan is always how to make it to the top of the organization. However, you learn new skills and develop new interests and realize that a different organizational setup is better suited to fulfilling the new goals. The idea is not to get too caught up in the corporate hierarchy, but to focus on acquiring new skills, embrace, change whole heartedly and always be ready to take on new challenges in a new environment.
I was fortunate to get great breaks in my career, to work with people who were not looking for stereotypical success or background, people who had the courage to hire a totally different skill set. Hence, I was able to tap new opportunities that came along.
Q. Not intending to stereotype, but as a woman, how has the journey been so far?
I was always very ambitious. I worked hard to be noticed for my work. I used to initially take pride in the fact that most managers would call me “One of the boys”. Then it dawned on me that I was trying too hard to shed my gender identity to fit in. On the contrary, I would like to be recognized for my perspective and my talent and not because I fit into a stereotypical view of the frat boys club. Again, I was very fortunate to have managers who themselves broke stereotypes and actively encouraged diverse teams.
One of my managers gave me a very valuable piece of advice “If you need to win, you should know the rules of the game. You can’t stay on the periphery and win” . It was a very practical piece of advice. Don’t wait for the world to shed its age old patriarchal views overnight. That thinking needs to be dismantled piece by piece. While you are challenging old beliefs, do yourself a favour and learn to win in the existing framework also
Q. How do you view yourself? more of a risk-taker or risk-averse person?
In 26 years, I have changed 13 industries, been without a job for a few months several times, quit a very successful career at multinational to start out on an entrepreneurial journey in my mid-forties. Guess, that would make me a risk taker?
Q. Over the years, how has your risk taking capability changed?
Yes, my risk taking ability has definitely changed. Experience and maturity add a dose of practicality to the risk one is willing to take. As one grows in one’s career, there is a lot more at stake. So, when you take the plunge you need to be very sure that you will not look back.
Q. Where do you seek inspiration/motivation from to get going in what you want to achieve?
Excellence, diligence, intellectual curiosity, logic and a fact based approach are work ethics I value hugely. My inspiration comes from watching powerhouses of talent in the world of performing arts and cinema. Meryl Streep is a huge inspiration. I watch her awestruck. The enormous talent and commitment to craft and her devotion to excellence are an absolute inspiration.
Q. Lastly, any advice/message to young women out there trying to rise in their career trajectory be it corporate life or entrepreneurship?
I would hesitate to give general advice. I would urge all women to focus on sharpening their skills, on acquiring new talent and most importantly not be shy or apologetic for being ambitious. I would urge them to put their hand up for new projects, not to hold back their desire to grow in the corporate world. If you don’t speak up or express your ambition, you won’t get noticed.