Global technology leader shares career perspectives

Abha Kumar, Principal in Information Technology, sits down with Senior Manager, Nivedita Masani, to discuss her career journey as well as global perspectives. In this feature, Abha shares insights into her formative years and how various experiences have shaped her professional career. What tips does she have for individuals interested in the Information & Technology industry? Abha says, “Hold true to your values and look for tomorrow’s adventures.”

A truly global career journey

Hi, I'm Niv Masani, a senior manager at Vanguard. I'm here with Abha Kumar, a principal in our IT division. I'm here to ask her about her career journey as well as global perspectives. Abha, tell me about your role at Vanguard now. What have you been up to?

I'm a principal, and I had the global sourcing office. And before I established the global sourcing office, I headed up corporate and international systems at Vanguard.

Abha, tell us about your background and childhood years.

I was born in India in a small town called [INAUDIBLE], and by the time I finished my postgraduate education, I had studied in nine different educational institutions, including England. I think in many ways this taught me so many important lessons. It taught me how to assimilate. It taught me how to adapt. And every time I went to a new educational institution, even if it was in a different state in India, I didn't speak the language. I didn't eat the food, and I didn't dress like the rest of the people.

So obviously you can imagine everyone made fun of me because I was different. However, my dad would not sign my report card unless I ranked top in my class regardless of when we transferred. So not only was an important lesson in adaptation and assimilation, it was also an important lesson on being true to who I was.

Can you share your journey with us, career journey from India to the United States?

Career journey-- I think in some ways, my career journey has been like my educational journey. I have worked for many organizations. I started my career in India and left, actually, very quickly after that. My education is actually in-- my Master's is in HR, believe it or not. And I ended up in technology because the first position that I held in India, I went to the head of IT and told him that we should have an HR application.

It didn't make sense actually for such a large organization to not have an HR application. So the first position that I had in the United States was actually working for an organization called Inside, which was the first commercially sold HR application in the United States. And that's really where I started my journey, my career journey from. And from that point on I've always been in technology.

I've worked for organizations like Morgan Stanley, ABC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and of course now you know I work at Vanguard. Really a tremendous amount of learning. I think I've been really lucky in all of the organizations-- all the great organizations that I've worked for and all of the important lessons that I've learned. And how technology actually has evolved in my career. And I've been really lucky to be part of change, the change process in these really large organizations.

Abha, what's unique about working in information technology at Vanguard?

Well first of all, to be in technology at this time and age is just tremendous. I think technology is advancing truly rapidly. The war for talent wages on. Vanguard is going globally. Cyber threats continue to evolve. And speed to market is just a given. So when you start to look at all of these aspects, I think just, how does one resolve these issues, right? And being in technology today actually puts us in the forefront of resolving all of these issues. So what we're looking for really-- is really to help the organization become more resilient, to help the organization become more secure, to help the organization to evolve its business models to adapt to the fast changing technology, and to provide our clients ultimately the best chance of investment success by giving them the best technology solutions we know how.

What tips would you share with women and men who want to follow your footsteps?

I would say hold true to your values. Absolutely hold true to your values. And look for tomorrow's adventure. Because I truly believe that the next adventure is around the corner. And we have to be ready for that adventure. The second thing I would say is, failures are great lessons. I have found I have learned a lot from them from my failures, than have learned from my successes. So if you look at your failures, it teaches you what not to do. It teaches you how to course correct. It teaches you how to be better in the future.

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