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Padmaja Padmakumari, Lead Product Manager, Cargo and Logistics Solutions, IBS Software, Trivandrum, India

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Tell us a bit about you, your role and what you enjoy

I manage the revenue management and analytics product vertical for the Cargo & Logistics division of IBS Software. In this role, I am responsible for designing functional solutions and integrating the revenue management, analytics concepts, and best practices into air cargo business process and models.

What I find most enjoyable is meeting different customers, partnering with them to solve key business challenges, and supporting their transformation journeys. I work on conceptualizing functional designs with customers' business needs in mind, and I love continuously adding value to the product through innovative feature enhancements. It's great to be able to tell customers when we have something new coming down the pipeline!

What was your childhood ambition?

My parents were professors and I always dreamt of being a teacher, just like them. At some point during my school years, I also developed an interest in medicine and thought I would become a doctor. 

What did you study?

As they say, nothing is set in stone; I ended up pivoting to technology. After graduating in Electrical & Electronics Engineering and completing a Master's in Technology Management at the University of Kerala, I knew I wanted to work in 'techno-business' to utilise my analytical and logical thinking skills effectively.

Tell us about your first role

I started my career with a placement at the Kerala Government Autonomous Institution. As an analyst, I supported strategy formulation activities, which were mainly focused on the public sectors. This role helped me hone skills such as strategic thinking, consulting, and problem-solving.

When did you join IBS Software? What appealed to you about the company?

I joined in 2008 as a Business Analyst in the Cargo & Logistics division.
I'm fascinated with great inventions such as aeroplanes, so I took this opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the aviation industry. I've experienced lots of learnings and challenging opportunities on the way which have shaped my career.

Padmaja in the office

What was your first experience with tech?

It was a computer at the IT lab on my university course. After my first baby steps in the engineering field, I quickly became tech-obsessed! I can still remember, I coded a 'Calculator' with all calculator functions in Visual Basic (VB) program when that craziness was at its peak.

Tell us about the people who've shaped your career

I would say that every person I have worked or interacted with, has helped me mould my career and abilities in one way or another. To name just a few who lead by example:

  • My Father – commitment and ownership at work
  • My Husband - freedom of thoughts
  • My Mother – maintain work-life balance and respect others
  • My Teachers – the need for continuous learning
  • My Senior Leaders at work – different perspectives and approach, holistic thinking
  • My Peers and Colleagues - healthy competition
  • My Daughter - curious to explore new things
  • My Brother- sharing & caring
Each one of them has knowingly or unknowingly, helped me to be a better version of myself.

How have things changed for women in this sector since you started your career?

I can still recall when I first joined IBS Software, there were few women working as business analysts. At that time, women focused more on software development or testing areas. I don't think it's due to the lack of opportunities for analysts; instead, it was more of an awareness issue and what this role can offer.

Today, the situation has changed drastically; I'm pleased to see many more women working on the business side of the company, and I would encourage them to pursue this path.

As a woman, what are some of the career challenges you've experienced or seen?

I am fortunate that I have not knowingly faced any discrimination in my career. 

There were times when women weren't openly taking steps to advance their career path and embracing leadership roles. They would be restricted, balancing work-life responsibilities. Nowadays, the outlook has changed completely. I believe we're more empowered to choose the right opportunities at the right time.

What career advice would you give to the next generation of women entering the sector now?

It's important to keep challenging yourself and remember that growth and comfort cannot co-exist.

Utilize your core values; for instance, as women, we tend to have empathy and great emotional intelligence. In the past, the emphasis used to be placed only on IQ. Whereas now, to excel in leadership roles, you also need EQ. Women naturally connect and adapt, and many are unaware of this valuable skill.

Life is like riding a bicycle, you must find your balance and keep moving. Don't hesitate to take risks, there's always a solution.

Be open, honest, be flexible and adaptive, be a good listener, create an open mindset to explore and learn new things.

Above all, BE YOU and have fun!

One of my favourite quotes is…

"If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way." This quote, often attributed to Martin Luther King, Jr, really resonates with me.

My Favourite Book is…

'Wings of Fire', an autobiography by Dr. A.P. J Abdul Kalam; it teaches how to dream and achieve success whilst showing how to cope with failures.

One of my favourite hobbies is…

art. I love nature and enjoy painting scenery on canvas using acrylic and watercolours.

Padmaja, the artist, at work. One of her works hangs on the wall.
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