True leadership, according to Asha Kurup, Client Partner, Infosys, is about “building a successful team and making an everlasting impact”. With a career spanning over two decades, Asha has garnered diverse experience across organisations, cities, and continents. From a Program Analyst in Cognizant in Chennai to handling mergers and acquisitions in an international oil and gas company in Singapore, to acing a corporate role in Trivandrum, and finally landing her current client interfacing role in the United States – Asha has donned multiple hats.
Positive, persistent and approachable in nature, Asha pays a lot of value to constant investment in personal development and staying relevant in the fast evolving world. “Focusing on overall wellbeing is very important for success. I aim to reduce stress at work and improve my work-life balance,” she adds.
She credits her strong work ethic, constant zeal for learning, support of her family, inspiring leaders, and a strong peer group to her success. YourStory caught up with Asha to know more about her milestones, learnings, and life hacks under its ‘I am the future’ series that spotlights dynamic and successful women leaders at Infosys.
Influences and learnings
“My father was my greatest inspiration,” says Asha. She pursued engineering because she wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps. Moreover, her mother always wanted her to become financially independent. All of this coupled with her own interest in networking and problem solving made her opt for IT. “I was also fascinated by the evolution of this industry and how it provided a great platform for continued learning and promoting innovation,” says Asha.
It is this passion for innovation and problem solving that has been keeping her glued to her job at Infosys for the past 18 years.
“Infosys’ value system – focusing on creativity and innovation – is a huge motivation for me. It also provides a good platform for continuous learning,” adds Asha.
For Asha, Infosys has always been her dream company. After working in Singapore for five years, she had to return to her hometown in Trivandrum due to her father’s illness. This was around the same time when Infosys had started a development centre there, and Asha got an opportunity to be a part of the company. “It was a fresh start,” she says, adding how Infosys offered her several opportunities for networking, gaining visibility, and building a strong professional foundation.
Lessons on leadership
Asha learned and evolved her leadership skills at Infosys. For her, the early part of her career was about building trust with her stakeholders, providing attention to detail, and having a strong work ethic. When she joined Infosys, she learned that true leadership is about building a successful team and ensuring you take your team along at every step of the way.
Her corporate role also exposed her to the importance of developing listening skills, good communication skills, as well as the importance of integrity, persistence, and providing a diverse perspective in the work culture.
“I had to lead the effort to drive the evangelisation of an initiative for my unit and this role gave me a unique opportunity to work very closely with some great leaders in the company,” she explains.
Advice for the young generation
Growing up in a family where women were on an equal footing with men, Asha’s understanding of gender disparity, equity and inclusion developed only after she joined the workforce herself.
At times when she found herself at the receiving end of unconscious bias by her manager, Asha decided to address the issue head-on and presented data points on her performance to navigate the situation successfully. She believes that up and coming professionals and leaders need to build awareness around pertinent issues such as unconscious bias, equal opportunity for career advancement, and pay parity.
Asha also speaks about the importance of upskilling, stepping out of the comfort zone to take up challenging assignments, and creating a strong peer network as important elements for ensuring sustainable success.
“My father’s sudden demise created a void in my life, and I soon realised that I did not build a proper work-life balance. At that point in my life, I understood the importance of setting boundaries. I took a step back to rethink my priorities and restructured my milestones. I started setting smaller goals for myself,” says Asha, adding that aspiring professionals must have good clarity on what they really want and be ready to take a calculated risk and set meaningful goals for themselves.