ABC – Always Be Curious!

If anyone tells you that you are born an introvert and gregariousness cannot be learned, look them in the eye and say, “You couldn’t be more wrong!”

Born in a conservative family in a small town in rural Southern India, I was always very happy with my solitude.  In fact, at one point I was anti-social to the extent that any social interaction would trigger a severe migraine (literally!).  If you’ve known my for the last 5-6 years, I’m sure your eyes are opening wide and your jaw dropping.  Yes, you can learn to be gregarious.  I did!

Picture it.  2009.  That was the time I didn’t know the definition of “social media” and wasn’t really keen on learning either.  I was happy being the only marketing person at that small startup. 

During the course of my MBA program, I attended a Women in Business event hosted by my business school, Santa Clara University.  The theme of the event was “Personal Branding”.  And when “social media gurus” that spoke at the event spoke about establishing one’s own brand identity, brand value and brand equity (yes, these are some very frequently used B-school terms), I couldn’t be more intrigued. Twitter was one of the first social media channels that became my experimental pad.  It helped me learn how to be social.  It taught me the easiest way to engage in a conversation where I still learned the most.  It helped me get rid of the “introvert” in me.  These are all reasons why I highly respect and value my Twitter network today!

Just like the three basic principles of real estate are “location, location and location”, the three basic rules for our growth (personally and professionally) are “network, network and network”.  Rate of your growth is directly proportional to your network. 

My recommendation to you — identify your personal and/or professional development goals.  Do a little research to understand the best ways you can connect with peers and experts that can help you learn and grow.  And then, just do it!  Engage with others.  The biggest revelation (the A-Ha! moment) for me was when I grasped the fact that everyone around me is so generous to help me learn!  Everyone is here to help, IF you are open to learning!

Stay curious.  Be eager to learn.  Know you cannot be correct always.  Keep an open mind.  Have a question?  Think it’s a stupid question?  It’s alright.  Ask away!  You will be happy you asked!  

Always ask yourself, “Why?”  Always Be Curious.  Those are the ABCs of my life.  I’ve been extremely lucky for establishing a massive support network that helps me learn, every waking moment.

If I can do it, you can too!


25 years.

As we all celebrated Mother’s Day earlier and Father’s Day today, I couldn’t but thank my mother for being the strongest of the sails to steer me and my sister through the roughest of the storms.  She has been technically the Mother, but stepped up to be our Father as well!

Twenty five years ago, in January, I had celebrated my last single digit birthday.  May 01, 1989: few days into my summer vacation and I was excited to spend that month with my entire family.  You see, dad’s job kept him away from us for more than three fourths of a month…and he told me he took the entire month off from work!  But we all know that “Man Proposes; God Disposes”, right?

05/05/1989.  That day.  That dreaded day.  I woke up at around 7am with what sounded like the loudest thud; with my father collapsing on the bed near my feet.  I was stunned and had no idea what was going on.  I think I slowly started to grasp the reality when I saw my mother and my uncle panic to keep him alive.  When the doctor-slash-family-friend uttered the words “purchase ice”, I had no clue what those words meant.

About ten minutes after, my uncle took me to the post office to send telegrams to the extended family.  I vividly remember my uncle’s handwriting on the telegram forms that said “Bhavani passed away; please start immediately”.  I stared blankly at that sentence as he wrote it over and over again, for about 25-30 times.  I still had no idea what was going on.  But the way we were born and raised to not question the adults, I couldn’t dare to ask.  I was hoping someone would explain something to me!

About an hour later, we got back home.  And what I saw there, brought me to the harsh reality with a shocking jolt!  Only then I fully understood what the heck was going on.  My father’s lifeless body was carefully perched atop two large ice blocks.  My mother was sitting near his feet; shocked and speechless.  My sister sat next to mom, holding her tightly and trying to contain her emotions.  But I didn’t know how to react.  I was too scared.  That’s when I realized I could become truly speechless even though I wanted to say something…or at least, shed a tear.

As hours passed by, my father’s cricket-team of a family (they were 11 siblings) slowly trickled in.  He was the 8th of the 11 kids.  My youngest uncle fainted when he saw my dad lay there, lifeless.  My oldest aunt, who had raised my dad as her own son, fell over my father’s body and cried for well about an hour.  My oldest uncle hugged his little brother’s body and cried like a baby.  To see their sibling start the “race” at a mere 42 years of age, was too shocking for everyone to comprehend.  The next day, they “prepared” him to take the cremation grounds.  I realized then–I would never see him.  Ever.  Those would become the few glances I’d get that would be my lifelong memories of him that I’d have to live with.  And that’s when I cried.  Uncontrollably.

Through all this chaos, the one person I looked up to, before letting out any of my emotion, was my mother.  She stood there as a rock.  She focused on what needed to be done, while letting out an occasional tear or two.  Whenever I saw her and whenever she spoke to us, all I could feel was the sense of determination; determination to raise her two new-teen and pre-teen daughters.

And for the next twenty five years, she stayed strong for me and my sister.  She never let us feel that void left by dad.  She went out of the way to make sure that we never said “we could’ve had xyz if dad were alive” or “we could’ve done xyz if dad were alive”…and so on.  If you are even closely aware of how hard it is to raise girls in India, especially by a single mom, you will know why I am so proud of my mother and why I respect her the way I do.  To give up everything when she was only 35 and to raise two girls, working hard for every single rupee she had to earn, to go to that extra mile to make us both engineers, to get us married in a grand fashion…and so much more that she did–this life is not enough for me to count every single thing that she did for us.

If my sister and I are here today, we owe it to our mother.

We couldn’t have asked for a better mother, father, friend, guide, teacher–all wrapped in one form, her–who could easily step into any role as and when we needed her.  Ma, we love you.  Happy Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Friendship Day, Teachers’ Day…and many more, to you, Ma.


A New Chapter…

When I read this blog the first time, I felt that it couldn’t be any truer.  I tweeted that link and got at least half a dozen RT’s and “+1s”.  But when I look at myself today, I am extremely proud and happy that I am the perfect counter example for this statement.  You see, my pet peeve #215 is a “blanket statement”, because there are always counter-examples for such statements.  I digress.

Today, I bring my Symantec journey to an end.  After almost a three year run at Symantec, I resume my journey at Citrix.

These few years at Symantec have been nothing but phenomenal for me.  I’ve been given many opportunities to make mistakes, learn and grow in my career.   I moved from Citrix to Symantec in mid-2011 to join Symantec’s App Virtualization and Streaming group.  From there, my journey led me to a network security product and then brought me to Enterprise Mobility when Symantec acquired Nukona.  These two years of my Product Marketing life with Symantec App Center have been beyond fantastic.  I entered one of the hottest topics in the industry, worked on strategic activities at Symantec, met the most elite folks in the community (huge thanks to Twitter), made some long lasting friendships and learned more than a lifetime’s worth!

I also want to take a moment to thank the three managers I had while I was with Symantec – Brian Duckering, Chandra Rangan and Travis Grandpre.  They are some of the best folks I’ve ever worked for.  I loved working for each of them!  Thank you so much, guys, for being the best managers that you’ve been to me!  I wouldn’t be here today without your support, motivation and more important, your confidence in me.

Along with these inspirational leaders, I had the opportunity to work with many many more fantastic people while at Symantec.  My Sales and SE teams have been the best!  The regional teams, integrated marketing team, education team, regional product management and product management teams — each team had their own way of inspiring  me in every step of my career at Symantec.

With a sad and a heavy heart, I leave my family that I’ve built at Symantec to join Citrix’s XenMobile team with Chandra and Ahmed.  I am very excited to be part of the X(Z)en team and look forward to many such successful milestones at Citrix.

The excitement (and the journey) continues.

My iPad was erased….now what?

<gasp> Imagine that panicky moment when you realize that your kids tried to unlock your work iPad’s password one too many times and the device is now reset to factory defaults.  Add to that mix the fact that you had not backed up the device for at least the past one month! <gasp> <gasp> <Somebody get me my brown bag!!>

Yup!  I went through that exact emotion (alright alright, I will admit, ‘horror’) very recently.  But then, I realized, I had nothing to worry about.  Here’s why.  There are two types of info we all care for on our smartphones and tablets: Personal and Corporate info.  Since this was my corporate iPad, life became much simpler.

  • Personal Info:  I just had my social media apps and very few pictures that came through the “sync” I’d done in the past.  Fortunately, I do not fall into this category:


The remaining personal files I have…are already on my Dropbox.  So technically, I have not lost anything.

  • Corporate Info:  This was even least of my concerns.  All my corporate information, including email, are delivered by our Symantec App Center app.  All I had to do re-download the agent, and voila!  I was back on track with my corporate apps.  It was as if nothing had happened to my iPad at all.

I am pretty sure this does not come as any surprise to many of you.  And yes, coming from the land of mobility, it doesn’t sound surprising to me either.  However, going through this experience myself (and without any deliberate device resets!) was very convincing to me that we have a great technology!  Thanks Symantec 🙂

Mobile devices have pampered us and changed the way we just expect things to work.  Regardless of where we are, how our devices function, whether or not our devices are reset, we expect to be back up and running in no time.  I am so excited to be part of this mobility movement.  As we all say, there is no dull moment in the mobile world!

Every step you take…

Reminds of you of The Police, eh?  I couldn’t resist using that as the title for this post.  Every step I take during my waking moments (and if you know me, you know that there are a lot of these!) I learn something new.

As a working mom, I have the opportunity to multitask; and not all of it is by choice. I still couldn’t ask for a better way to learn.  Right from (a) making breakfast, tea, packing lunches, getting kids and myself ready for the day to (b) managing work, meetings, social media and socializing in the office to (c) bringing kids home, their homework, dinner and finally, (d) back to working for a few hours before I call it a day – there is never a dull moment in my day.

I learn from my kids – the art of innocence.  Regardless of the day, the injuries and the attitudes, kids somehow are successful in bringing so much cheer and joy in our lives.  As tiring as our days get, one hide-and-seek game and I feel like a kid again!

I learn from my team – about how to succeed.  I am very lucky to be part of a fantastic team at Symantec.  Every individual brings with them such great expertise and experience that even a five-minute conversation with any one of them makes me feel so enlightened.

I learn from my tweeps – a LOT of things.  No, that is not an exaggeration.  I feel lucky and blessed to be surrounded by such brainpower on twitter.  The topics they talk about and the level of conversations they have are just mind-boggling.   I have learned about so many technologies just by eavesdropping on such conversations and by reading the blog posts that these experts write.

And when I put my kids to bed and get back to work – I reminisce about my day and realize how productive, cheerful and exciting my day has been as I cheerfully look forward for the next day.

For a change, I wanted to blog about me.  I had always wanted to, but was never sure how it would be received.  But today, I remembered what Sudheesh said: “write for yourself; not for others.  Write because YOU want to.”

Building Your Social Network

No, I am not going to talk about the movie Social Network.  Uh-uh.  I never even got past the first 15 minutes of watching that movie. I just couldn’t do it.  So I don’t think I am the right person to talk about it; positively or not.  I digress (which happens often, if you have met me in person at least once 😉 ).

If you have been following on twitter, or if we met in person because we’ve been connected on twitter for a while now, you already know how passionate my opinions about Twitter are.  I take my Twitter seriously (now I tweet occasional rants and ramblings, but hey, it is in disclaimer already).  Twitter, as any other social media platform, is a tool; a tool that can help or hurt your social identity.

Thanks to my friend, Cindy, I learned that Twitter exists and people have conversations on the same topic with something called a hashtag.  It was one of our first Santa Clara University Business Alumni events and Cindy mandated we all tweet during the event.  This was back in 2009.  After that day, I went quiet on twitter because, well, I thought it was boring! <gasp> I know…I know…there was a time when I thought Twitter was a complete waste of time.

So what changed?

Picture it.  May 2011.  Citrix Synergy.  (a la Sophia style)

I was with Citrix back then and I couldn’t attend the signature event, then held in San Francisco.  However, I didn’t let that stop me from keeping myself in tune with the event and the happenings at the venue.  I sought the help of Twitter.  That’s when I started to have conversations with SO many people (Steve, Shawn, Geert, Anton, Rob, Doug, Henrik and of course, my own teammate/mentor Mayank).

And when I moved to my current role at Symantec, I knew nothing about Enterprise Mobility.  However, by following the tweets from my mobile elitists, I learned a lot faster and got a lot smarter.  I not only learned about the technology, but also got a good understanding of the industry and how the businesses are changing.  Brian, Benjamin, Bob, Philippe, James, Colin, Phil, and Nick, among others, have been very kind in sharing their opinions, blogs, comments and thoughts with people like myself on twitter.

So how do you use Twitter?  Similar to any technology, do not use it because everyone else does.  Use the right tool for the right reasons.  Are you trying to build a twitter network for yourself in professional world?  Search for experts/analysts/journalists in the space you’re interested in and start following their tweets.  You do not have to participate; just follow the conversation.  Try to participate in that conversation, even if it is just a simple response or a retweet.  And if you can continue the conversation, well, you are like me 🙂

As with any other skill, start slow.  Take baby steps.  Remember…you are an expert in what you do.  Twitter cannot possibly be harder than that 😉

Tweet on!

Lock those devices down!

Here I am, flying home from Orlando after having a great time at Gartner Symposium. It was my first time at the show. And my first show where all my conversations were around Enterprise Mobility. What a great time I had!

It was mind-boggling, however, to see that some (yes, there are more than a few out there) enterprises still think personally owned devices do not enter their network. “Nope. We do NOT allow personal mobile devices.” “And if our users want to bring their own devices, we will manage them and lock ‘me down!” Denial! And even if you want to call it a solution, is it? 

As Enterprise IT, we need to be proactive, be aware of not just today’s, but also future Mobility needs. We must be prepared to embrace both corporate and personally owned devices instead of locking down on one. Traditional laptops and PCs will not completely disappear from the enterprise yet; however, enterprise-owned or personally-owned mobile devices have made their foray into the corporate network. Burying your head in the ground will not help you anymore. 

Take a step back. Reassess the situation. What are we trying to accomplish? The answer is simple – we are trying to secure our corporate data. With so many devices now, it has become less about protecting the device and more about protecting the data. When it comes to mobile devices accessing corporate data, secure and manage that part of data and not the whole device. You don’t own the device, so why do you want to manage the device? Open up your corporate data to those personal devices, but control the flow and avoid leaks. After all, your users want to stay productive and they shouldn’t have to open up a clunky corporate laptop and connect to the VPN for that. Make it easy, make it simple. Not painful.