Follow a work discipline to be successful in career: Dr. Kiran Marri, SVP & Chief Scientist, Movate

successful career work discipline

We got an exclusive chance to interact with Dr. Kiran Marri, SVP & Chief Scientist, Movate, regarding his learnings and experience at his first job and as a Senior Vice President and Chief Scientist. Below are the excerpts.

We got an exclusive chance to interact with Dr. Kiran Marri, SVP & Chief Scientist, Movate, regarding his learnings and experience at his first job and as a Senior Vice President and Chief Scientist. Below are the excerpts.

TechGig: Can you give a brief of your background and what motivated you to choose this professional path?

Kiran: I had an engineering degree in Electronics (SVCE, Univ of Madras) and an M.S. in Biomedical (IITM). Due to limited opportunities in engineering jobs, I tried an IT career and joined Infosys in 1996. Soon, I realized that I was good at multi-tasking and handling people, and this helped me to take up a managerial path early in my IT journey. The next 15 years were pure managerial track and good exposure to client projects, creating new practices, growing up strategic initiatives, and exploring newer services, and the common aspect was that my role was operational and performance KPIs are largely linked to revenue, managing cost and people. By 2011, I realized that I was far away from hands-on and only had the outer view. Mobile apps and the use of mobile for business were growing then, and I jumped into creating a core team to develop solutions around mobile, and this brought my interest back into technology and solutions. I took a leap of faith and moved into the Technology stream, and soon realized that nothing fundamentally changed. At a crossroads, during 2012-13 I made a conscious decision to upskill myself with newer areas such as signal processing, imaging techniques, machine learning, and artificial intelligence – I joined a research doctoral program at IITM.

In my early 40s, it was difficult but not impossible. My doctoral program helped me to find my passion again – research and solutions, identifying problems, eliminating bad techniques and methods, and more importantly learning to fail fast. Those 3 years helped me to rediscover myself as an individual contributor, and I completed my Ph.D. with 24 publications and 2 best papers awards.

I joined Movate (then CSS Corp) in 2017, and my role was designed to help both the sales and delivery teams. I am currently a Chief Scientist and SVP and work for all business units of Movate. My work largely involves research, analyzing as-is and proposing better alternatives, data analytics, optimization, automation, and co-create solutions with both internal and external stakeholders. I am still an independent contributor and use technology only as a means to achieve end goals. The best part of my job and role is the uncertainty and newness of problem statements and the opportunity to work with a wide range of industry verticals, the diversity of meeting domain experts, and being able to work on many first-time problem statements.

TechGig: Tell us about your learnings and takeaways from your first job.

Kiran: My time at Infosys has played an instrumental role in building my foundation, work ethic, and value system. I am blessed to be part of that institute for close to two decades, and to date, I have used that experience. The three takeaways:

  • Use, immerse, think, and breathe with data
  • All times think about your client’s (stakeholders) problems & pain-point unless you are unconscious.
  • There is nothing bigger than work ethics and a value system. Be passionate about every work you do for the organization/ unit

TechGig: Any person or mentor who guided you toward achievement and stood by your side at every step?

Kiran: My career span is for 23 years, and multiple people have influenced and inspired me and have been my mentor at different stages. If I must summarize, being an alumnus of IITM and Infosys is the biggest boost for my career. Both these institutes have helped me shape my path and growth. At Movate, the setup is a perfect platform for me to experiment with ideas, freedom to explore, and be more of an intrapreneur.

TechGig: What was your biggest challenge as a tech professional and how did you overcome that?

Kiran: The first challenge was shifting from a managerial role (team contributor) to a technical stream (individual contributor). It took about 6 months of learning and getting my hands dirty, and then during my Ph.D. time, it was all about “me” instead of “we”. I always have a habit to get up early in the morning, and I converted this morning time to invest in learning, writing, and practicing a lot. It took time but I loved the process and journey.

The other challenge I overcame a bit hard is to fail fast. Being in tech sometimes our ego gets the better of us, and it can be very damaging to the return on investment (for business): timelines or quality, or cost. I learned the value of time-cost quality at Infosys, and this helped me to fail fast.

Technologies are constantly evolving, and being relevant to the client context is more important than being tagged with a single technology or domain. Movate taught me that it is not practically possible to be an expert in 1 domain or a few technologies. It is more important to be connected with client problems and bring the right expertise from other groups: co-creation and collaboration is the key.

TechGig: From a techie to the Chief Scientist and Senior Vice President of Movate, what are your biggest accomplishments?

Kiran: Movate has grown from 4500 in 2017 to 12000, and I am happy to be part of this growth story and have contributed to working with over 100+ clients in the last 6 years. In the process, we have got 4 best papers awards, helped Movate to get into Magic quadrants, and had the opportunity to conceptualize, design and develop insights as a service for customer and tech support business.

TechGig: Any tips or guidance you would like to share with today’s freshers?

  • Kiran: Embed deep into your mind and heart that learning is a continuous process and it is important to re-skill and re-invent your potential to be relevant
  • Pursue a doctoral program, if you get a chance – today there are multiple options. It helps to structure your thinking process, and it is a key foundation for a problem-solving role
  • Follow a work discipline – early to bed and rise early

TechGig: Over the past few years, workplaces and work cultures have undergone a substantial transformation. Do you believe that today’s newcomers face fewer challenges than in the past?

Kiran: I think it is the other way around. Today freshers have more challenges to survive than they used to. Though workplaces, remote working, etc., have changed a lot, the core work ethics and value systems are still the same. I get a lot of opportunities to work with software engineers, and developers and I believe that they do their share of challenges. It is always survival of the fittest.

TechGig: Which books would you like to recommend to aspiring techies?

Kiran: I am not a book person as it consumes a lot of time. But I love to read shorter ones: blogs, write-ups, or even videos. I do spend a few hours a week, especially when I am working on newer topics or areas. There is plenty of good content available on Google, ChatGPT, YouTube, LinkedIn, and research papers. Take up the habit to read and understand how to apply to solve in a meaningful context for your next client problem.

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