The Women of Nutanix India
It’s hard to spot her at first. She’s usually tucked away in her side bay cubicle in Nutanix’s Bangalore office. But once you do, you will realize that you’ve seen her around a fair bit. Be it blood donations, tech events, or dancing at the annual family day, Pratibha’s place is the center stage. “I love a hectic schedule,” she declares cheerfully. “I get bored if my schedule is not full.”
She really does not need to worry about a plate half full. She is a professional Bharatanatyam dancer as well. Trained by her mother, she has been dancing for almost 20 years now. A frequent performer at various festivals and events, she is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Bharatanatyam via correspondence. “I was four or five when I started dancing. It started because of my mom and continued because I absolutely enjoyed dancing. Later I realized there is much more for me in it.”
Maintaining two professions is challenging. Ask her how she handles it, and within an instant, you’ll understand. “If you love something so much, you find ways to do it.” She is also an avid mountaineer and a thorough fitness enthusiast. She won the Cult fitness challenge, one of the hardest around town, twice in a row. And since she doesn’t seem to consider the gym difficult enough, she’s also been on four treks already; her most recent one was in Leh. "Dance and mountaineering give me happiness." When not writing code, dancing, doing yoga or mountaineering, she likes to enjoy a lazy day by going on long runs!
Pratibha joined as an intern in Nutanix almost three years back and was later offered a full-time job. Presently she works with the Cerebro team. "We have a strong knit circle of friends here, we all joined together. So, I guess people at Nutanix is my favorite part. We all have a shared vibe; everyone is really helpful and open-minded."
It’s one of the first things you’ll notice – that casual confidence in the way Vanita speaks. She doesn’t actually say the words, but in her tone you’ll hear ‘been there, done that, what’s next?’ It’s clear that she feels the need to constantly push herself. To step outside of her comfort zone, to extend her boundaries, to always be trying something new.
It’s something Vanita brings up quite cheerfully as she talks about her transition into people management from being a tech lead. Tech and math were things she understood and was good at. Handling people was the next big challenge and when the opportunity presented itself, she did not hesitate.
That lack of hesitation is a hallmark of her interesting career. Before Nutanix, she had a fairly comfortable job in a rather large company, but she was looking for a new challenge. Nutanix India was a lot smaller and younger in 2014: we were trying new things, making a name, and pushing ourselves. (So in a lot of ways, Vanita’s journey mirrors our own!)
Vanita was one of our early-adopter engineers, one of those who saw that we really wanted to do something cool and made a leap of faith. She began her time with us in the Core Data Path team, a group that she is Director of today. It’s been a remarkable upward climb (in just five years!), but she isn’t one to rest on her laurels.
Her big goal for herself is to push the boundaries of what it means to be a technoleader – to drive products, to drive roadmaps, to stay connected to technology. All while helping her team to grow and to innovate and, much like herself, develop a healthy fondness for pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.
One of Nutanix’s values is ‘Humble’; we encourage it at all levels of the organization. And when you sit down for a chat with Priyanka, you get to experience first-hand what genuine, sincere humility looks like.
She has a lot to be proud of. She’s a natural, self-taught singer who sang at concerts with Raju Ananthaswamy for years. Priyanka has lent her voice to ads, short films, and doesn’t charge for it because she sings for the joy that it brings her. And when she isn’t singing, she’s doing her part to make the world a better place. Priyanka works with an NGO, Kodagu for Tomorrow, that provides employment, financial aid, medical assistance, and empowers women to better the lives of their community.
At Nutanix, Priyanka’s alter ego is a business analyst – or at least, that’s how she began her journey with us. After a little over two years of supporting our Alliances teams with actionable insights from the chaos of raw information, she moved into a manager’s role. And now, she single-handedly manages dozens of strategic technology partnerships for Nutanix.
But when Priyanka talks, it’s rarely about the things that she’s done. It’s about the people who helped her along the way. First on that list is her family, whose relentless support has allowed her to remain singularly focused on her goals.
Then she talks about her work-family at Nutanix. Her first mentor who helped her understand the magic of a well-crafted spreadsheet. A team member with a decade and a half of experience who’s always ready to roll up his sleeves and get the job done. A senior director in India whose open-door policy means that he makes time for anyone who needs help, no matter his schedule. A vice president in our California office who’s always ready to take a call and offer advice.
These are the people, Priyanka says, who made her strong. Showed her the way. Helped her find herself. And in her own way, she helps us find ourselves too. Her stories and accomplishments remind us that the truest measure of our success is the people we help along the way.
Madhulika is a gentle speaker. Even and measured, there’s a softness and quiet in her voice. But then, when she starts talking about the work she’s doing in Dungarpur, that changes. It’s faster, stronger, more passionate. You’ll hear a spark in her voice. It sounds like a rallying cry.
Dungarpur is where Madhulika lives and it is a place that was tactically, strategically chosen. It has a complicated, troubled history of land allotment to farmers – a problem that stretches back to the end of British rule in India. There are, in total, 22 villages fighting for the right to own the land they live and work on. And this is the cause that Madhulika has chosen to make her own.
Despite having no formal training in rural management, Madhulika has learned a great deal by doing. For the last five years, she has been going through formal paperwork, talking to the government, making appeals, and participating in huddles for land allotment.
“What excites me,” she says, “is the process in which someone learns to assert their right to the land. Villagers are learning from that process of standing up as individuals and community to get their rights. In the future, when there is another situation which needs them to stand up for their rights, they will do that together, as a community.”
Standing up for a community is a decision that has followed her along the winding journey through the years. Madhulika was raised in a household with strong maternal figures and, as is custom for many Indian families, made her way into a tech-centric career because that’s just the way things are. But even though she went abroad to complete her Master’s degree, home was always calling. She joined communities that were focused on bringing change to India and slowly equipped herself with the skills and knowledge she needed to live her dream when she came back. And, after traveling for a year and a half to work with different NGOs and related organizations, come back she did.
Now, when she isn’t occupied fighting the good fight, she spends a good portion of her time building software for Nutanix – and she speaks enthusiastically about her time with us. Madhulika works remotely and travels to our Bangalore office once in three months. “When you are working remotely, you do question your efficiency, interaction with your teammates, commitment to your work. But my team and managers have always ensured I get answers for all these questions and doubts whenever I visit. They let me know that my work is adding value. The trust that they show in my abilities and commitment is unparalleled.”
“Financial independence is not just about finances,” she says, “It’s the freedom to pursue what you truly believe in. And Nutanix has given me that.” Despite the many challenges that she has faced along the way, she is relentlessly optimistic about things to come. “People at Nutanix have been very accommodative of my passions and endeavors. I am excited to see how this pans out in future!”
Imagine the Shatabdi Express* as a person. That’s it. That’s Prajeetha. If you’re in the Nutanix office, you’ll see her everywhere because she is everywhere. Walking from meeting to meeting, starting conversations with people she meets along the way, making her presence felt in ways both small and large.
This drive to do things started pretty early on. Prajeetha grew up in Pollachi, close to Coimbatore, and was perfectly certain – from a very young age – that she was going to move out someday. Her own ambition combined with the fact that her mother was a teacher meant that there was constant influence, both within and without, to excel.
Her first job, for example, was in sales. Despite having no experience in the field, she was leading a team of telecallers and field executives. From week one, she was setting targets, suggesting strategies, and doing everything within her power to make sure that the job got done. On the job, she learned to be strict and firm, gentle and persuasive – and if there’s an origin story for Prajeetha’s near-superhuman smooth-talking ability, that sales job is it.
But Prajeetha knew that she wanted an HR-focused role so, after a respectable amount of time in sales, she took her learnings and moved on. After a handful of jobs, all in HR – during which she built teams from scratch, worked with a startup as it hurtled towards success, and overcame cultural differences in a multinational company – she came to Nutanix.
And here, with us, Prajeetha’s role is more meaningful than just HR. A nation’s culture, it is said, is in the soul of its people – and to spin that phrase a little, in the (small) corporate nation that is Nutanix, Prajeetha is that soul. She’s been with us through dramatic changes in the size and scale of our operations, through changes in leadership, through good times and not-so-good ones.
Prajeetha is that constant, our constant. Always working, never resting. Being the example we need to see. And, in true Shatabdi fashion, speeding us onward into the future.
* A superfast train operated by the Indian Railways.
We talk often about being the change you want to see in the world. The corporate spin on that is probably to be the kind of person you would want to work for. It’s something that Nivedita seems to think about a lot.
Her first foray into people management was as Nutanix India’s Head of Marketing, and she’s aware of the tremendous weight that comes with being responsible for people’s careers. For many, it’s incredibly daunting. But when you watch her interact with the people on her team and the teams that they support, you’ll notice that she seems to be doing a stellar job of building strong relationships.
Not only does she have a remarkable knack for remembering small (and interesting) details about a person, but she actively makes it a point to ask meaningful questions when she talks to them. A one-minute conversation with Nivedita leaves you with the impression of having spoken to someone who consciously took the time and made the effort to know, understand, and recognize you as a singular, unique individual.
That same commitment and attention to detail manifests itself in her work as well. To us, she represents another one of our values – ‘hungry’. Before Nutanix, her time was spent largely working on established brands. The lines had all been drawn; her role was essentially to color within them. Now, after a few years with us, she speaks fondly of the challenge of building the Nutanix brand in India.
And, quite frankly, there’s no one better suited to do it. Nivedita plans her year one quarter at a time and her days are divided between events, airports, and meetings. While the rigor of that pace would have worn down someone made of less stern stuff, Nivedita sounds exhilarated when talking about her time.
Her motto, she says, is very simple. A job, and life in general, is a rollercoaster. You can choose to either scream your way through, or do your best to enjoy the ride. From the grin on her face when she says it, there’s no doubt at all – her success comes from the fact that, time and again, however bumpy the journey, she always chooses the latter.