Opportunities are always there, often disguised as risks. And risks are a very important part of growth because they push you to your limits by getting you out of your comfort zone !

Hima Bindu, our next pathbreaker, Global Adoption, Culture and Communications Leader at Kyndryl India Pvt Ltd., drives effective communication across the company, to build an inclusive culture and drive the end-to-end adoption of key global programs.

Hima talks to Shyam Krishnamurthy from The Interview Portal about making the tough transition from HR and taking on a variety of leadership roles in core IT during her 14 years at IBM.

For students, most of the limitations are what we have developed in our minds. Look at every adversity you face as an opportunity to transform and learn. 

Hima, Your background?

Iam Hima Bindu, and I come from a humble, conservative middle class family from Bangalore. Growing up under my grandmother ‘s care and love were some of the best times of my life as I learnt the most important lessons of wisdom from her. I come from a heritage of Women Supporting Women. Though we were growing up with a conservative lifestyle, I was always told to dream, to never give up , to keep trying and accept failures as opportunities for a better life ahead, and above all, learn to forgive yourself and move on . These were strong virtues my Grandmother  “Ammaji” would teach me as I grew up watching strong women in my house. Needless to say, that rubbed on to me pretty well as I grew independent. 

My mom always saw her dreams through me. She was the one who put me into dancing ( classical Bharatanatyam  ), in fact she was my strongest pillar of support after my grandmother passed away. Dancing became my life and kept me grounded, ambitious, passionate, goal oriented – I performed extensively across the state, even in Doordarshan, did my arangetram and won a state level gold medal for dance. Honestly, the majority of my childhood was spent in Dancing. I met my gurus who nurtured me and helped me get closer to my true potential and to who I am deep within. They have played a significant role in my life for sure. Today if I am resilient, I owe it to them. I did my schooling in a convent and moved to higher education and college within Bangalore itself. 

What did you do for graduation/post graduation?

I took up Psychology as my major for my bachelors degree and wanted to pursue Clinical Psychology as my career, but ended up doing Post Graduation in HR due to very limited opportunities that were available at that time in Clinical Psychology. 

What made you choose such an offbeat and unconventional career?

Currently I work as Global Leader for Communications and Adoption for Kyndryl –  IT Services company . I never had an idea I would ever end up working in an IT firm. I always wanted to be a shrink and pursue my dancing, but life had different plans, as it all started when I finished my Post Graduation in HR  and was eagerly looking for a job to support my family, my dance and to become financially independent. In those days, call center jobs were the new thing and everyone was choosing such jobs. I on the other hand wanted to be close to what I had studied, i.e. Psychology. I decided to get into HR, though jobs in HR were extremely rare in 2004/05. I got my first job in the Hotel industry as a HR Trainee. In those days, a girl going for a job in our family was still very rare, but my granny, my mom and my brother stood strong. Though I learned a lot, over a period, it was not conducive for me as I realised that growth opportunities were too less and I had to move onto IT for better opportunities. 

My first break in the corporate world was with IBM, yes the big blue giant of the IT Industry. I joined them as a contractor in the talent acquisition team and learnt my way through various diverse roles within IBM in Quality, MIS, Security, Business controls, Corporate Audits etc. My work became my passion, all thanks to the discipline inculcated into me by my mom, my gurus and of course, my granny . Their teachings came a long way in helping me cope up with my Corporate Life, Family and my Passion. Though It was surely challenging, and not easy at all initially, learning to accept the reality and adapting to new ways only made it that much easier, and less stressful to cope up with the demands from my family, work and child.

It was actually after my maternity leave that my life changed and I realised my true potential. Once I got back to work post my maternity leave, I consciously moved into a challenging role without a compromise. It was a great shift for me personally as I took up a role in a core IT Business Domain within my company. I worked for a tenured UK client, travelled extensively to the UK and managed a team of 40+ technical members. This shift from HR to IT delivery was challenging, though not impossible to manage. From there on, I did many certification courses to upskill myself as I worked across different roles within Cloud Delivery, Project Management, Hyperscaler space and more . 

How did you plan the steps to get into the career you wanted? Or how did you make a transition to a new career? Tell us about your career path 

As I shared earlier, Psychology was my core interest and I chose a career that was related to that field which was HR. As I got into HR at IBM, I realised that there are many more interesting areas within the corporate sector that I could explore. My strategy / approach was very clear :

  • To take up roles that I have never done before and give myself 2 yrs in each role .  
  • To look for the positions/ roles that will give opportunities for growth / promotion and ensure I equipped myself with the necessary experience , learnings and certifications.
  • Networking, guided by mentors also helped, as well as identifying stretch assignments along with the regular job or role.

Keeping this as my base criteria, I worked on various roles starting from handling HR trainees, moving onto roles of Onboarding Coordinator, MIS-Quality & Process lead for a BU, Assistant Manager -Security, Manager Business controls – IT Security etc . Then came the biggest change in my career, when I took a leap into core IT Delivery as I returned from my Maternity leave. I moved into the IT Services segment of IBM , where I took on the role of Service Delivery Manager for a tenured IBM UK client. It was a conscious decision though I have not seen many shift from HR to IT services as a career move so far. 

The beauty of being in IBM is, this is a company where diversity, inclusion and opportunity are a core of their being, which is surely a huge deal for women. There have always been key opportunities announced for women across the board, and of course it was the best place and the right timing for me to have shifted to a different career. I applied through my friends in the GTS department and cracked the interview with the UKI India Leader, UK IBM Account Delivery Leader. I can still remember that interview and day, as I was given 6 months to prove myself in the new role based on which I would be confirmed for the position for good . I knew it was a risk, but if I didn’t take it then, I would have surely regretted it today. I accepted the offer, and started off on my transition to the account . I must thank three individuals who really supported me through this change, my then India UKI manager – Shankar Kandala, my Account DPE – Nigel Thomas and my coach Saurabh Bhide . They played a key role in helping me walk through this role effectively. Then, facing the client, working with the client team onsite and making a true difference is what really mattered for business. 

You may have the best of the industry knowledge and skill, but if you don’t have the attitude to learn and adapt to change, you will struggle in any role you may choose to take. I guess this was what made them give me the opportunity . I took this role as a challenge and realized anyone can do IT, only if they commit to learn, unlearn, re-learn and challenge themselves as and when they know they are getting comfortable with their current role. 

With no examples to look up to, I stuck to my approach and ensured I paved my way ahead in that space for 7 years. Handling clients gave me the confidence that I  am in the right place. This move gave me an opportunity to grow from a Service Delivery Manager to a Client Support Manager/ DPE to a Sector Lead managing more than 4 accounts across the UK. 

My only indicator to move on to a newer role is when the role becomes predictable and I am having a sense of comfort. I believe growth and comfort can never coexist. Any role that makes you uncomfortable by challenging your mind and performance is the role one needs to take up. From delivery, I decided to become an executive assistant for Vice President – Global Technology services, India. This role gave me the space to understand how a VP operates each day of her working life, what it takes to be a leader, how to manage tough situations, how to make things work for the client while keeping the teams motivated. I was blessed to have had the opportunity to work under a French woman leader who was then the VP of GTS . 

Though this role was for a 6-8 month duration, I knew this would give me exposure at leadership level where I can learn, network and grow. Not every role will get you a promotion, but roles like these will give you 10 times the exposure and experience that you would not get even in 10 yrs. From there, I transitioned into a Technical Project Manager role for a first of its kind Automation Deployment and Transition project, a role which came with its own set of challenges and learnings that set me up for my growth. These risks are a very important part of growth strategy. It is an immense learning opportunity to test your knowledge and creativity in solving client problems. 

My next move was into Cloud technology areas like Cloud delivery support where I took the role of AP Sector accounts alongside becoming Cloud Delivery Manager for the largest UK Account . This role demanded me to learn the concepts of cloud and the various aspects of managing a cloud environment. Over a period of time  I was leading a  team of approx. 80 technical staff as a People Manager delivering cloud managed services to clients. 

From there, I moved into the Cloud Migration team as a Program Manager, where I set up many key strategic projects for this team and took over my next big role as Global Enablement Leader for Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure Practice. In this role, I was responsible for executing the enablement and upskilling strategy and programs across the practice and this is an IC (Individual Contributor ) role which was a class apart. I gained experience in strategy across various technology areas and much more. I did multiple certifications across various tools, methods and processes as a part of my role . 

Today , I am with Kyndryl – Advisory and Implementation services as Global Adoption and Communications Leader. This role is surely another challenging space for transformation and growth once again . 

Let me be clear, during every transition in my career, I have had a coach / mentor in that space internally and externally who could guide me with their experience on how to live up to the role and perform well. I never hesitated to reach out and ask for help, guidance and support whenever necessary and ensure my work spoke for me every time . 

I would like to thank in no particular order, my mentors who came in my life at the right time to build my career to where it is today. My HR career – Sanish TK, Hemachandra Babu, Lemuel Herbert, IBM HR – Naresh Kasula, Gautam Vishwanath, Mathew Varghese , IBM Corporate Security – Elizeu John Dos Santos,  IBM GTS UKI Delivery – Saurabh Bhide, Nigel Tomas, Collin William , Jon Grubb, Executive Assistant GTS – Anupama Ambe, Srividhya Sireesh , Sophie Bechu , Program / Project Management for Automation – Anand Gopalkrishnan, Cloud Delivery & Migration and Hybrid Cloud Enablement – Divakaran Ullampuzha Mana and Aravind Sogathur. They have played a very key role and were my allies in this transformation.

Though this is my professional career, there is another side to my personal development, which is my personal goal to be relevant, aware and to build my own brand by sharing my knowledge and by giving back. 

I am an advocate for Women Empowerment and have been a part of various women empowerment programs across various groups. I keenly drive initiatives across –  Women in Technology, STEM ( Science , Technology , Engineering and Maths ) Programs for Girls, Upliftment of Single women, Diversity & Inclusion. I am also a Co- Facilitator for Business Acumen for technical Leaders. I have set up my own digital platform where I do my bit by giving back to the society to enable digital literacy across underprivileged sections as a part of Covid pandemic support .  

In conclusion , One must always build a career in the following 4 core development areas – 

1) Technical & professional certifications for the role you would like to pursue. 

2) Build on your soft skills – like leadership, presentation, negotiation, agile thinking etc.

3) Hands on Experience – make sure you take up stretch assignments, be buddies with seniors /experienced staff, have mentors / coaches to guide you in the new areas of development you choose to take up.

4) Giving back – engaging in sharing knowledge and participating in various external and internal webinars, panel discussions, leading training and supporting young talent .This will help build your brand and presence in the industry or sector . 

How did you get your first break? 

My first break with HR was via a physical walk in interview that was announced in the newspaper. Post that, my IT career was through a Recruitment firm called Manpower agencies in Bangalore that got me into IBM as a contractor. Then I got confirmed as a regular employee 2 yrs after I joined IBM. My initial career path was hard, as opportunities were rare in HR then. But now, things are different and there are huge opportunities to choose from. Platforms like LinkedIn, IT Conferences, Campus Jobs and job portals are some of the places young seekers can benefit from . 

What were some of the challenges you faced? How did you address them?

To share a few challenges I faced during this transition from HR to Core IT  : 

  • I was a mother of a 4 month old baby boy and had to spend long hours at the office to learn the new area with limited guidance. It took me 4 months to crack the process, the client, technology issues including where/what needs to be fixed. As I was keen to learn it right, I spent long hours learning whatever came my way without questioning.
  • The very fact I had to balance shifts, and get on calls, was new, but having a growth mindset, I considered all these as opportunities.
  • As a woman, let’s not underplay the fact that you will have your male counterparts and peers testing your insights and challenging you on various areas , be it boardroom discussions or in the race to be the best.

With immense support from my family, mentors and friends, I built on this change successfully, gaining various awards and accolades for my efforts. From then on, there was no looking back. I took up roles and carved my growth in areas many thought I would not take up . 

Where do you work now? What problems do you solve?

I work for Kyndryl India Pvt Ltd as Global Adoption, Culture and Communication Leader. 

In this role, my focus is on three different areas, i.e to drive effective communication as the company transforms, build an inclusive culture and drive the end-to-end adoption of key global programs. 

What skills are needed in your role? How did you acquire the skills?

Project / Program Management, Strategic Thinking, Content Writing, Presentation skills, People Management skills, Graphic Designing, Being aware of how to use media editing tools based on various campaigns etc, ability to think critically and creatively, ability to work well under deadline pressure and multi-task are a few to mention. But one must invest in themselves in the 4 areas as I had mentioned earlier . 

What’s a typical day like?

This role is a global role, which means you will need to work across time zones. There are days when I work for more than 12 hrs a day or get lucky working for 9 hrs. I start my day early, from 8 AM IST to about 5 PM IST, cover up all my actions, and then get on to calls from 6 pm till 9 pm in the night. I ensure my day is planned well to avoid delays. I usually keep 70% of my day planned and make way for 30 % of ad hoc requests and meetings. 

What is it you love about this job?

The whole creative aspect of the job, and working with different people across the globe is what i love. If you really see, all my roles and the job profiles I took up have psychology applied at every stage as it involves working with people. So in a way my love for that subject has truly helped me cope up with this corporate world. I am sure I can survive and thrive anywhere people are involved. 

How does your work benefit society?

As the world transforms through engineering and technology, the opportunities today are immense and since  more and more of the IT infrastructure is becoming “as a code”, companies are looking for people who can understand the logical connection of how systems work so they can sell the services to the clients. The reason I say this today is that software development and coding are becoming hot skills that are needed across the board. Knowing coding and understanding how Information technology works becomes a critical success factor in their career. Even for the non technical students, knowing the usage of technology is a key skill.

Automation using AI is becoming more and more common as well. Anything that is repetitive can now be automated. This frees up the human mind to be applied to more creative and innovative activities. So, be rest assured that by the time you complete your education there will be many new roles that will crop up, which will need critical thinking skills, Innovative mindset and ability to add more value than automated robots can. 

This role demands all of the above as you will be required to translate technical services to clients, internal and external teams in a consumable way that they can comprehend and take action.  

Tell us an example of a specific memorable work you did that is very close to you!

As the Covid pandemic continued to rage and lockdowns and closures became the norm, technology rapidly took centre stage in our day to day lives . 

Being aware and able to leverage technologies like mobile phones, internet, apps and online financial platforms started becoming critical for survival of people and businesses. This sudden shift put a large section of small businesses and individuals, who were earning a living through their talent and skill, into a major disadvantage. I created a digital platform called Manahprasada, with a group of like minded friends and started a social service platform as a way of giving back to the society 

I created this to help and enable small businesses and individuals to quickly come online and leverage the online platforms to reach their customers thereby reducing the digital divide. Today Manahprasada hosts various initiatives that not only enable the economically hit but also help those affected by the covid pandemic situation. The innovative campaigns focus on persons who need help, get them in touch with persons who have the skills to help, and bring persons who want to support this, all together on one platform. It is kind of a golden triangle that impacts 3 different lives at the same time . 

On the onset of wave 2, Manahprasada launched  “LETS HELP ALL BREATHE” initiatives that focused on bringing services like free counselling, free meals distribution, mask distribution, and community feeding of stray dogs, while supporting economically hit homemakers, artists, transgender people, and artisans during the lockdown. We could touch more than 4000+ lives, 600+ animals + 3 homemaker families to help them in a small way while sitting at home and applying our knowledge and skills to get help. 

We have had the opportunity to reach out to various groups from BBMP Porakramikas, frontline workers, construction workers, humanitarian homes, orphanages, transgender community, Rohiya community, quarantine homes and remote villages with close to 40+ families today.  We have given free counselling to the affected families, and raised funds for the weaver community in rural Karnataka by helping raise awareness and funds to support senior citizens in this community and by supporting the Solidarity Sale initiative to help sell the handloom products made by these weavers. We also launched an art based digital platform for the artist community . 

Manahprasada does not collect donations directly, but facilitates the people who want to donate to the people or organisations who need funds or services. We were featured in Times of India, Deccan herald, and few other press and media agencies that recognised our efforts and are publishing these stories. This is what branding for me means, doing the work right, with compassion and not as a competition . 

Building a brand mantra was shared by guru Chanakya, who said, “ there should be total synergy between thoughts, words and actions . Integrity and character is the basis of trust, and trust is the basis of leadership.”  If you want to build your brand name you must build trust, and trust comes from actions. 

My efforts will continue, and will be my contribution to society in a small way . We are a 30+ volunteer group today, all dedicated individuals who come from various fields and who signed up for selfless service . 

This platform is like a test bed for anyone who is willing to learn what it takes to work on a start-up. In a real sense, as we need volunteers to help small business owners to set their digital business up, it will also need business thinking, strategy to grow the business, monitor financials etc. It’s a lot of learning I must say. You are free to visit and enroll if interested here : 

This is a memory that will stay with me forever . 

Your advice to students based on your experience?

These are my life lessons and hope this will inspire you : 

 – Change is constant, and once we accept change, it becomes much easier to respond to situations/ events.

–  Most of the limitations are what we have developed in our minds which inturn affects our responses. 

–  Trust yourself and listen to your deeper voice , it will guide you 

–   Ask for help and guidance, without fear of being judged.

–   Look at every adversity you face as an opportunity to transform and learn. 

–   Understand that most successful persons have seen many failures, and have converted every step into a learning for themselves.

–  When you suddenly feel no one is supporting you or everyone is opposing your actions, then just understand one thing … you are doing something right.

–  Don’t get affected by what people say, you are in competition with no one else but only yourself .

Future Plans?

Many plans are there, but I believe in taking things one day at a time and doing it well and doing it right. I am keeping the rest open for life to take me where it wants me to be. 

Iam always ready .