Looking back on my leadership development journey with Schneider Electric
I joined Schneider Electric in January 2014 and took up progressively larger roles within engineering management before becoming a Director in 2018. After completing college, I kicked off my career with a role as a software engineer in the US, then progressed to technical leadership roles and architect roles. I also dabbled with pre-sales engineering roles for a few years before becoming an engineering manager.
My journey at Schneider Electric has been exciting and educational. When I joined Schneider in 2014, I was unaware of the work culture at Schneider Electric India. But the employee-friendly culture, strong support system, and technical experts at the company made my transition easy. My first role in Schneider gave me exposure to the business and a deeper insight into how software was key to digitizing energy.
In this role, I collaborated with my team to create innovative solutions and create a strong learning culture in our area. This brought us more recognition and opportunities to deliver, and within 2 years, the team doubled in size giving me a chance to lead a much larger team. Eventually, I ended up owning up the entire software development responsibilities and other technology research operations in India.
My significant achievements
Some highlights of my journey are:
- I was recognized within Schneider Electric’s R&D (Research & Development) as a key leader and member of the R&D Council, along with many innovation, leadership and community engagement awards
- Scaling my team from 10 members to 100+ in the past 6 years and becoming a director in the process
- Driving capability building and learning initiatives for R&D including on-boarding young talents
My Experience as part of Tejas’– Schneider’s Exclusive Leadership Development Program
Tejas was an interesting program. I was amongst the few junior level leaders at that time in the whole batch and it was a bit scary to be in the room with some of the experts and strong leaders from the company! But that fear quickly diminished as I connected with the group on the first day. The concepts we covered during the program (such as the Innovation Framework model) still finds its use in my role today.
One key takeaway from Tejas was: I got to know myself in a deeper sense. I was always under the impression that – ‘Hey, I know my strengths, weaknesses, and what I want out of life’. But, during the program, I realized what makes me happy, what motivates me to perform my best, and what my emotional quotient is. This is critical to be a good leader because, without knowing yourself, it is difficult to understand the people that you want to lead.
Since the program had leaders from all departments within Schneider Electric India present, I formed a very strong network of friends who share invaluable information, help each other on initiatives, and more importantly, became visible in the organization. This invaluable network continues to stay connected, even to this day.
Schneider Electric’s support with my Career & Aspirations
The support from one’s immediate manager is crucial in anyone’s career journey. At Schneider, our leaders and people managers are measured on how successful their team members are. So, if you are working smart and delivering results, your managers would organically help drive your visibility and further enhance your career.
Our Learning Programs are well aligned with the career stage and age of employees. So, if you are a recent college graduate and displaying promising potential, there are learning programs curated for you. If you are a senior member and want to pursue pure technical roles, there are learning programs to address this need as well.
The Individual Development Plans (IDPs) are a robust framework for employees to think about their careers. With HR driving these initiatives with close support from people managers, each employee is empowered to think about building a career with Schneider, and not just worry about your next role or salary hike.
The ‘Catalyst Moment’ of my Career
It was in October 2013, when I was working in the US, and I received the offer to join Schneider Electric India. I said ‘yes’ purely based on the role and how challenging it was – to rebuild a high performing, innovative organization with digital and software skills. While this journey continues, I am glad I made this decision.
Playing the role of a ‘Mentor’ and ‘Mentee’
Mentoring is a two-way street, where both the mentor and mentee learns something new about themselves. When I was getting mentored earlier in my career, I used to receive advice on what roles I would need to take up and what skills I needed to develop in order to be successful. While this holds true even today, I find that the younger generation is much more determined to do meaningful work, have a purpose for their roles, and are impatient to solve tough problems. With progressively new ways of working, such as Schneider’s Open Talent Market, and other career and leadership development initiatives, talent will always find ways to develop itself and grow in one’s career.
About the Author:
Sharath Sirivolu is the Director of Technology for the Secure Power division at Schneider Electric. His core purpose is to build teams that are high on performance and technically outstanding so that Schneider Electric delivers innovative value to our customers using software.