Not all careers follow an ‘obvious’ route out of education. But, according to data governance manager Deepu Puttaiah, that can make the journey more interesting - and is vital for bringing fresh ideas to our business.
He speaks from experience. He first targeted a finance career with a diploma in commercial practice, until his curiosity was piqued by Bangalore’s burgeoning local IT industry and he instead kick-started his career in data entry with Wipro Infrastructure Engineering.
Within a year, he was working closely with the company’s factory on core operational data, such as that relating to materials movement. This reignited his passion for business and inspired him to complete a Bachelor’s degree in commerce at evening college.
Blending skills and passion
Seeking to combine his data skills and passion for commerce, he then moved to Unilever. Over the next thirteen years, he held a range of IT positions and won a Champion Award for developing and implementing a Complexity Reduction Reporting Tool, in close collaboration with teams as diverse as supply chain, finance and quality. This experience brought the realisation that data quality is a critical pillar for all functions.
Determined to demonstrate the benefits of effective data management, and create value for the business, Deepu and his team began standardising data processes - streamlining, improving or automating them to deliver some notable savings.
Buoyed by this success, Deepu joined Smiths Detection in 2021 as data governance manager for its finance function. However, just as he joined, a restructure redeployed his role under Smiths Business Information Systems (BIS), which saw him anchored firmly back in the IT fold and in charge of an inexperienced but talented group of data analysts.
Pivoting a career
Rather than see this as a problem, however, he recognised it as a career pivot-point – and worked closely with his allocated transition manager and director to shape a new remit for his team. It wasn’t long before the embryonic BIS unit was divided under three supervisors led by Deepu: one focusing on operations, one on projects, and another on data quality.
While encouraging each team to flex their respective wings, Deepu actively nurtured collaboration on ideas and opportunities. He also supported them with proactive career planning and cross-training, ensuring all members became a specialist in two or more areas. This not only provided valuable cover for absences but helped to foster an overall team spirit, characterised by pride and creativity.
Making sure he continuously improved his own skills, he undertook Smiths Lean Six Sigma green belt training.
He also became a proactive member of the Smiths Hive committee, helping to organise cross-divisional activities from fun engineering challenges to cricket tournaments. This exposure to the wider company further honed his aspiration to raise performance excellence through data process standardisation and accountability across the business.
He said, ‘At a company like Smiths, where passion, vision and ideas are welcomed from any quarter, the sky is the limit. You can drive your career wherever, and however far and fast, you want to.'