We recently sat down with Ranjani Mani, Senior Manager of Data Sciences and Advanced Analytics, to learn more about her role at VMware, and how she balances leading a remote, global team while working from home.
VMware Careers: Tell us what you love most about your role at VMware?
Ranjani Mani: My love of learning is something that drives me in everything I do. So, what I love the most is the fact that I have opportunities to constantly learn across multiple facets of my role. My Data Sciences team really pushes the bar around how we solve business problems and innovate. We take part in internal and external forums such as VMware Radio, VMworld, or the VMware Machine Learning Conference. We regularly conduct team hackathons, work on multiple forms of data and platforms; and interact across global teams across product, engineering, and management. I love that I am always learning about new areas that are future relevant such as SaaS (Software as a Service) and focused on enabling our business analytics and machine learning innovative solutions to provide exceptional customer experiences and successes. Leading a global team challenges me to be a more mindful leader by defining the team culture and rallying it towards success. Beyond my day job, there are many avenues for me to explore my interests around getting more women into analytics. Through VMware’s VMInclusion initiative, to engage with industry bodies and start-ups.
VMware Careers: As a leader, what impact do you make in your role?
Ranjani Mani: As Lao Tzu says, “A leader is best when people barely know he exists…when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will all say: We did it ourselves.”
I see the impact I make in my role when I enable my team to up-level and deliver our company priorities and offer an unparalleled customer experience. The ways in which I do this are as follows:
- I am laser-focused on hiring people smarter than myself. This is the only way you raise the bar and the average intellectual capital of a team. Once you have a high performing team and you can provide them with clear goals, trust them to do their job.
- At VMware, we are fanatical about the values we hold ourselves to; this allows us to truly Innovate in everything. My focus is on being transparent and this ensures a solid foundation of trust – the basis for a high performing team.
- Most importantly, as an analytics leader, one who plays a key role in connecting the dots between the AI (artificial intelligence) strategy and Business strategy. Pixar’s Co-Founder Ed Catmull called out the need to ‘balance the ugly baby and the beast’ in leading a creative team. I love this analogy and apply it to my role in many ways. Leaders play a critical role in challenging the team to think innovatively and protect the initial ideas [ugly babies] while continuing to drive business value [feeding the beast]. I always have a goal to strike a balance between creativity and discipline, by driving value from data sciences to the business.
VMware Careers: What do you like about VMware’s culture?
Ranjani Mani: A great culture is made up of amazing people, that is what I love the most about VMware – the people. Across geographies and teams, the people here are very forthcoming in stepping up to the task and always willing to help. We also walk the talk when it comes to our EPIC2 values – Execution, Passion, Integrity, Customers, and Community. Other aspects of our culture I appreciate are the opportunities for learning and development through our Take 1 program – VMware’s educational reimbursement program, promoting a healthy balance between personal and professional lives and having approachable leaders and mentors vs traditional roles of authority.
VMware places a huge focus on Diversity and Inclusion and as a woman in tech, it is liberating to work in an environment where leaders actively work towards removing unconscious biases and are passionate about fostering inclusion in the workplace.
VMware Careers: 2020 was the year that we all found ourselves working from home. How is VMware enabling you to integrate your work and personal life together?
Ranjani Mani: The way we work and collaborate has undergone massive changes over the past year – some of which are here to stay! VMware prioritized enabling its workforce to work remotely and ensured teams were as productive as possible while being grounded in a foundation of well-being and our EPIC2 values. The approach they took spanned across people, process, and technology. Team building programs such as the ‘At our Best’ recognition programs were set up to encourage team members to recognize and reach out to their colleagues. Wellbeing programs and webinars to prioritize mental health became constants in our working week. Collaboration tools such as MIRO and the provision of IT (Information Technology) accessories all helped tremendously in transitioning to a seamless WFH (work from home) set up for both myself and my teams.
VMware Careers: What tools, programs, or stipends have you received to support your well-being as you work from home?
Ranjani Mani: The fact that I have been able to successfully interview, hire and onboard team members remotely speaks volumes in terms of the support that has been provided with an employee-first mindset. I think a lot of working parents, including myself, have benefitted tremendously from the additional Pandemic Leave and EPIC2 days VMware offered us this past year. This additional, no questions asked time off was immensely helpful during these testing times. In the true spirit of physical, mental, financial, and community health, I have also been able to use the WellBeing Allowanceell-being allowance offered by the company to reimburse my annual fitness program and buy books, two areas that I have turned more towards amidst the pandemic.
We are still working in a distributed manner at VMware, and our team is growing in India. Take a look at our open roles in India and apply today!
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