2017 Top 100 Under 50 Executive & Emerging Leaders

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ARUN RAMASWAMY, PHD

CHIEF ENGINEER
NIELSEN
UNIVERSITY OF CENTRAL FLORIDA

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Many corporations are now going through transformations and economic challenges; what leadership challenges are you facing in your organization/company and in your industry?

My company measures and generates insights about the global consumer- their media and purchase habits. As you can imagine, this industry is facing big changes and fragmentation in the ecosystem, some driven by changes in consumer habits, some by new non-traditional players in the value chain, and mostly by the advent of digital and the speed of change in technology. In many markets, our clients are going through disruptive changes themselves. These pose challenges at all levels. It is ever so important that we continue to differentiate ourselves with new innovative products. However, it is not just about tools and processes. It is about people fundamentally and changing the culture. We are doubling down on the communication around our mission, strategy, roadmap and training for our associates. We are well on our transformation journey with clear milestones.

What experiences in your career best positioned or prepared you for a global leadership role?

It has been a rich and diverse journey. I started out in the industry as an intern, worked my way through software engineering and in different R&D roles -conceiving new products and algorithms. Today, I lead the engineering organization for the company. Each of these roles brought in a set of experiences and learning that have shaped me. As I took bigger leadership roles, I realized that success starts with building the right leadership team who are positive change agents. Investing in talent is key. The culture of listening to diverse points of view, accepting the differences in us plays a huge role in the success of a global organization.

What type of risks have you taken in your career, and how did they prepare you for the unexpected?

I have taken a few risks in my career. Leaving a job with a well-defined role to jump into the startup world with so many unknowns was a step I took early on. That put me totally
outside my comfort zone. I learned how to expand my comfort zone. After a few years at my current company, I took the leap from a pure R&D role to a much bigger product delivery role. That was totally new to me. I learned to balance the dual needs
on an enterprise- how to be quick and innovative and at the same time ship products on time and quality.

What advice would you offer to developing and emerging leaders to leverage mentoring and coaching relationships?

I personally benefited from having a mentor early on. It was an invaluable experience. It helped me ease into the corporate world and helped me grow professionally. Over the last few years, I have had the opportunity to be a coach. The benefits are tremendous. It provides an opportunity for all participants to learn from each other’s experiences. At a professional level, you enhance your professional network and new opportunities open up. At a personal level, you will appreciate the art of listening, empathy and contemplation. I would encourage everyone to leverage the opportunity. Win-Win for all.