December 3, 2020

Beyond The Data: Rajgauthaman Shanmugasunda, Program Manager

By Claire Sasse

Welcome back to the Beyond The Data series! This month, we’re highlighting Rajgauthaman Shanmugasunda, a passionate program manager who is known for his dedication to our customers and always having a smile on his face.

Tell us where you’re from and a little about you.

My name is Rajgauthaman. I’m a native of Coimbatore, an industrial district in Tamil Nadu, India. I grew up watching globalization and automation in the mechanical industry changing the dynamics of SME businesses in my town. This change opened up the gates for a wave of new business in information technology and electronics. Eventually, after graduating with a degree in electronics engineering, I chose a career in the booming software services business. My job offered a lot of opportunities to travel and work across different metropolitans in India and abroad – I’ve cherished every moment. Now, I am enjoying my time in Bengaluru.

Rajgauthaman Shanmugasunda

What does "Program Manager" mean to you? What do you actually do in any given day?

There are different conceptions about the “program manager” role in different organizations. We are a ground-up organization, and our expertise in every practice is built that way. As a program manager at phData, I’m responsible for customer success by ensuring they have the right access to required information and resources. It involves managing risks, the quality of delivery, the overall plan, and the project budget. On a typical day, I have several meetings with a fleet of customers in which we discuss their key priorities and then I translate them into action plans for the near term and long term. I work towards creating self-organized teams.

Tell us about the PMO team! What is it like working with them every day?

The PMO team is a closely knitted unit that manages delivery governance for all of phData’s customer engagements. Every time we collaborate, we learn something new and feel charged by the smiling faces. Most importantly, we know that we have each other’s back. We draw strength from each other and I love that.

How long have you been with phData? Tell us about your professional background.

I joined phData in December 2019. I started my career as a programmer/support analyst and served in a similar tech capacity for almost 10 years, where I was developing functionalities and/or fixing technical issues. Throughout my entire career, I have traveled a lot and met people from different backgrounds. That experience led me to pursue a career in management-leadership. I was very lucky to be put in different situations, executing transformation projects, and fixing various challenges to deliver a final product. My experience taught me four main things: learn the environment, know the goal, create a game plan, and don’t stop until you reach that.

How have you seen the company change since you started here? How has your job evolved?

I joined exactly when we moved into catering a critical business demand – 24×7 managed services. It has been a great experience witnessing how our expert engineers embrace the change. From co-creating the ticket management 2.0 model to implementing it across the managed services unit, it was a great privilege to contribute to the change. The way we adapt to the fast-changing technological advancement is amazing, by building structures around developing new expertise, passing the knowledge to delivery units, and catering to the niche demands of the data-driven world. I bet my future on it. 

What’s your favorite memory of your time working at phData?

My onboarding days gave me a glimpse of what I would experience in phData. I immediately felt warmth and inclusivity, and it felt like moving into a family. I was encouraged to study the existing processes and suggest necessary changes. Amidst the pandemic time, working with the senior leadership team on video calls and implementing those changes was one of my most memorable experiences. I am sure there will be many more to come! Another fun memory was the great conversations we had in ‘the biere club’, talking about soul and stuff was great fun.

What is the one thing you want customers to know about phData?

At phData, there is a strong sense of finding the right match in every hire – we are an ‘All-Star team’ in the data world. The organization’s DNA resonates with our core values and helps in bringing the ‘A-game’ of every engineer, architect, and manager to every customer engagement.

What are the most exciting things you’re working on and how do you see them positively impacting our customers?

Many of our customers are going through an important transformation phase in the big data technologies they are working in. My role is to help them be ‘future-ready’ with minimal business disruption. It involves providing strong governance from planning to execution. My latest assignment is to help a customer in finding their targeted outreach through machine learning engineering and we have employed our best data science talent in doing that.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?

I have two great pieces of advice! My early part of my career was shaped by this advice – “Do your research before asking a question” – it changed a lot in my game. Another one is “Listen to people, to what they say and what they don’t.” To fully understand people, we need to pay undivided attention to them and this enables me to connect well with customers and colleagues.

How do you like working from home? Do you have any tips that have helped you during this challenging time?

I miss meeting and socializing with colleagues. It was initially challenging to mentally separate office space from home, but over time with the aid of technologies like Zoom, I found ways to adapt. My advice is to get the things you needed in the office – it could be a simple whiteboard if that helps you to be creative. Know your business hours and convey the same to family to win their support. Sincere health tip – If you want to walk, then walk in the direction opposite the kitchen.

What do you do for fun when you’re not working?

This pandemic has provided an opportunity to explore a hidden talent in me – I started cooking for fun. My wife and I enjoy sharing the kitchen space. Apart from that, I like to read books (mostly biographies and philosophy) and watch tennis and cricket. I miss playing table tennis these days too!

Rajgauthaman Shanmugasunda Family

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