Home > Women Leaders in Technology > Q&A With Praveena Patchipulusu

Q&A With Praveena Patchipulusu

Director QA at HPE

February 19, 2020
Praveena Patchipulusu, Director QA at Hewlett Packard Enterprise carries rich experience in Leadership, Storage, Networking, Quality Assurance, and Automation. She loves spending time with her kids and have been lucky to do so with the right work-life balance while working @HPE Nimble Storage team for 7 years!

Deck 7: Tell us about your role at HPE. What do you like most about working with HPE’s QA team?
My role encompasses project deliveries, strategies, vision for QA team, people leadership, managing budget for the QA team which includes even release management, delivering products keep the customer in mind. It encompasses the role to define, execute and promote quality mindset. For us customer comes first. All the QA functions including manual and automation, working with cross organization leadership to deliver high-quality products on time with the given hardware and people resources.

I do work with the product management in defining the product and development counterpart to work on designing and defining the actual engineering design for the product and also the customer support. So, those are the three big verticals that I have to work with.

At HPE, QA is equally, highly engaged with all the customer escalations, and we have a very good relationship with the support which is very unique compared to a lot of other companies. This gives us a very good insight on what problems we face because we do involve in the escalations. And that helps us analyze what we might have missed in the product and catch it upfront.

Also, sometimes benchmarking is kind of missing in certain aspects within the product, like performance and failover benchmarks so we come up and develop the business quality initiatives and for the future product we measure our own benchmarks.

D7: Are there specific skills that have helped you see what your next step is and to make yourself known as someone who can perform the next-level job?
One is to define the strategy, vision, projects, delivery being the technical aspects of it. Coming from a highly technical background and having done my masters and I have taken on individual roles as QA and development. One thing that helped me grow into this role was people management side of things. So, for me that is one of the biggest skills that helped to get to the next stage. Like growth into management, from first line manager, to senior manager and Director now.

I have some classes HPE offers like leadership, strategic growth through Columbia business school which was an amazing program for six weeks that had virtual sessions with professors etc. And then internally at HPE, they have a lot of senior leader training and nowadays emotional intelligent is picking up a lot. So you have to understand not just the IQ and the technical aspect but how to deal with people and emotional intelligent side of things.
In addition, I also do a lot of management and leadership skills on our team to find what are the strengths within the team. There are books out there like Strength finder, there are activities related to that which I have implemented in my team so we can figure out which people in the team fall in which bucket.

I also believe in multipliers vs. diminishers’ kind of leadership strategy. You cannot keep asking for more and more hardware and people resources. So, within the budget, the time and the resources, you have to multiply people. So, the strength finder is a path towards the multiplier, if you know the strengths of each individual, you maximize their strengths. So that has been my biggest strength to growth.

"The strength finder is a path towards the multiplier, if you know the strengths of each individual, you maximize their strengths."
D7: Were you always interested in computers and technology? What would be your advice for girls/women looking to break into the field of computer technology?
I’ve always been interested in the technology, since the very beginning. That was one of the shiny objects for me. Also, to the new girls and young women, my biggest advice is to get involved in technology from beginning. I’m a very big proponent to getting them involved from the beginning into technology. I have a 15 year old daughter and it doesn’t matter what field she wants to choose; I told her technology and computer is something that would always help her. It doesn’t matter whether you’re going for medical, biotech, finance, even agriculture, arts, architecture and business side of things, whichever one you choose, MBA or Masters or engineering, it doesn’t matter because technology has spread its wings too far. So, that is something you have to learn and you cannot be scared of technology. We have to inculcate into our new generation, kids, our co-workers to not have the fear of technology. If you’re not into it you can’t really progress further in your life.

If you see our daily lives, you can’t live without internet so that is the technology right there. Kids are on social media, Instagram – to me that is technology and you should be in a place to talk about it and to debug it if something goes wrong.

I had attended the Grace Hopper Conference in 2019, if you’ve heard about them, they want to reach the tech equity 50/50 for women by 2025. And I’m really starting to implement some of these things and it’s my personal goal to take that forward wherever I go and give back to my community.

"Customer comes first, if you have that mantra, you’ll be successful."
D7: What are some strategies you’ve learned that can help women position themselves within their organization to reach their full potential?
I’ve learnt a lot in the past few years – from where I was to where I am. There are certain intrinsic qualities that women are born with – how men are from Mars and women are from Venus, so I think god has made us with certain things, women are more emotional. That is one of the key things that can stop us from our own growth. We need to first learn how control our emotions and be self-aware so that doesn’t come in our way.

I used to get unhappy or depressed as soon as my viewers would not listen and sitting with a bunch of folks where everybody’s men except you. And at social gathering people crack jokes because it’s a social setting and there are certain boundaries but they want to be themselves so they crack those jokes. But you cannot be offended you have be a part of those jokes and take it with a grain of salt. So, you have to have these two things separated out. Along with that be logical, keep your mind at the right place, don’t get emotional during meetings and be data-oriented. As long as you present data in the forum that can be perceived and is convincing that would be your biggest strength, so you’ve got to be data-oriented.

And you should definitely be first to define the vision and strategy for your team before others. Because guys are supposed to be more strategic vs. women are more tactical, we should change that vision. We can also be the defining factors of strategy and vision and not just men.

And always over-represent yourself. Sometimes women don’t ask for what they want. I could not negotiate very well for my own career growth. A lot of people would come and say to me you’re ready for your next role, why don’t you go and confront your manager and say “you’re giving me so many responsibilities but where’s my growth? You have to promise me some growth if I deliver XYZ. I could not negotiate very well that was one of my weaknesses. And after being in a lot of conferences and talking to other women I’ve realized its importance to over-represent. And keep your personal career development ahead of others, don’t think what your team’s going to think if you go and ask for your personal growth, what’s my colleague going to think and what are these other people going to think – although my career growth comes by moving the team. So there are certain aspects, for me, they all come under the emotional aspect.

Once you go above your emotions and become self-aware you can achieve a lot more.

"Once you go above your emotions and become self-aware you can achieve a lot more."
D7: What obstacles did you face in your tech career, which in the early 2000s was a very male-dominated profession? How did you overcome them?
To be honest, I’ve had male managers all throughout my career and none of them have hindered my growth. Maybe I was blessed or was sincere and more hard working or maybe it was a combination of both that I’ve had great relationships with all of them and none of them have ever hindered my growth.

Although at times I’ve had colleagues, both male and female, in the past who’ve brought me down and that was a rough time that I had to go through. They’ve played political games with me or they had more influence around the workplace which I didn’t. So, I had to go through some phases in my career where I was very low but you have to fight for it. I had even thought of quitting my job because of the obstacles but the thought of facing my children and my grandchildren and what example I would end up setting for them stopped me. I wanted to quit on my own terms and not because my colleagues were bringing me down. So, I kept on fighting and it took me a while, in some cases, a couple years to fight but then I made it through. So, when looking back now I feel that no matter which organization you work at challenges will come in all shapes and sizes and you’ve just gotta face them.

D7: If you have to summarize your mantra for success in the IT QA field in one line, what would it be?
Customer comes first, if you have that mantra, you’ll be successful.

About HPE

At Hewlett Packard Enterprise, we advance the way you live and work by engineering experiences that unlock your full potential.our success is exemplified through our employees’ drive to advance ideas that bring meaningful innovations to life for our customers and partners around the globe. We are guided by our mission to help customers use technology to turn ideas into value, and empower them to transform industries, markets and lives. We simplify Hybrid IT, power the Intelligent Edge and provide the expertise to make it all happen.