Shankar Rajendran of Orange, CT has the entire recipe for being a Project Manager in the IT industry. He sees the owned projects through every step of the way from cradle to grave and resolves impediments and risks. His ability to make key decisions in a timely manner enables the projects to be delivered on time with high quality. Shankar’s judgment skills are extremely phenomenal; as it stems from his vast experience in managing, driving and delivering large scale projects.

One of the other notable qualities you can find in Shankar Rajendran is that he is a leader, and leads by example. He is not just about delegating tasks to his team members. When it matters he is not afraid of rolling up his sleeves and become involved hands-on with everyone. Shankar knows and understands the capacity of each team member and assigns tasks based on their workload; more importantly without overloading them. He clearly understands each individual’s strengths and weaknesses based on their skill set in order to make them successful in what they do.

Shankar Rajendran has impeccable communication skills working across cross-functional teams, besides working with his own team and represent them well. He is known well among the management as “people’s person” simply because he interacts well with clients and end users, other teams within the organization and also with the higher-ups; more importantly, he puts his team first.

Many times, you will find managers across an organization aren’t good at listening. Shankar is not of those, instead, he will let you talk, and then when he talks you will get a good impression that he listened and understood your problem. He always preaches everyone about the kaizen practice – a philosophy of continuous improvement among work practices/operations and also personal efficiency.

How did you get started in the IT industry? What inspired you to work in this industry?

As a child, I was always interested in technology. I worked hard to get my MBA in business and by then I had already worked as a software consultant for over 6 years. While working in the IT industry, each person tends to wear multiple hats. He/she could be developing something, validating the developed solution, gathering requirements, etc. It’s never just one role! First, you gather requirements and put together a design strategy, then develop a solution and then validate. Once the validation becomes successful, it gets delivered to the end user for their consumption. During the course of this lifecycle and wearing multiple hats, I happen to understand the overall workflow and wanted to become part of delivering the overall solution from end to end.

Project management gives you the ability to oversee projects from that standpoint and upon completion of my management degree, I transitioned myself from being a developer into a project manager.

How do you make money?

The IT Project Management role allows me to manage and deliver IT projects with low cost, high profit, high quality and all in a timely manner. I earn my paycheck by being a full-time employee as an IT Project Manager for a reputable company.

How long did it take for you to become profitable?

During the initial stages of becoming an IT project manager, you tend to learn from mistakes. Sometimes you reduce scope to deliver on time, and other times you increase time for delivering higher quality. No matter what, you don’t compromise the quality. Once I learned that art, I was able to deliver IT projects with low cost and high profit.

When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?

There are a few instances during my transition where I was concerned and frustrated about dealing with certain situations or people, but I never doubted myself or the decision to become a project manager. When you don’t have direct control over people but then you are required to delegate tasks to them, you end up in a place where they are not obligated to listen to you. That’s when you either lead by example or do something to earn their respect. That way, even though they don’t report to you, they will listen to you because after all, you are working towards the successful delivery of the project. The end goal is the same.

How did you get your first client?

Once I got myself qualified to perform the duties and responsibilities, I started applying for companies that are looking to get associates or trainees or consultants. Microsoft Corporation was looking to hire talented individuals with less or no experience, and that caught my eye. I went through a round of interviews with folks at the client site, both over the phone and face to face. I was able to answer questions based on functional, situational, and behavioral, very much up to their expectation and in fact, exceeded the expectations of many of them. I ended up working for them for a year and it was a good learning experience for me on my first job. I learned how to deliver and meet a client’s needs.

What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?

When you go to a customer site either to service them or sell them, it’s always a good practice bring a catalog of your other products and services offered. While at a site, if you begin noticing either the lack of other products or services, you bring that to their attention that the company is offering all these additional things, and that if you combine it with your current purchase/service there will be a promotional discount of 10%. This has worked well for us in generating new business.

What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?

We were selling a medical product that measures the BMI based on body weight, height, age and blood results. It was calculating correctly for most of the parameters passed but for some instances, it was either throwing an error or producing incorrect results. As a result, we were in jeopardy of losing this customer. Luckily, we were given a last chance to fix the issues in our product and get it delivered correctly. I took over the assignment of delivering this project at this moment and started working on the details of the requirements and their deliverables. I took an approach where we could automate testing ALL possible permutations and combinations of calculating the BMI and ensured that the BMI will be calculated regardless of the sex, age, blood results, height or weight and delivered the product in complete accuracy. The client was happy and continued with us for other future products and projects.

What do you think it is that makes you successful?

It is clearly the ability to make key decisions in situations where everyone else is reluctant to make decisions in fear of failing. Sometimes the gut feeling you have acquired based on experience and skills help you make key decisions in life that enable you to become successful.

What has been your most satisfying moment in business?

The network you build, no matter what company you are working for or the projects you are working on. The people and relationships you form along the way are so important. They teach you so much and make work a lot more enjoyable. It’s also important to gain the reputation and trust that you built not only measured based on your success but on the leadership skills.

What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?

Sometime in the near future I would love to expand the business and the network in multiple countries. Additionally, I would love to focus on countries where levels of unemployment are very high. Being able to run your own business and give back to others would be considered a great honor.

What business books have inspired you?

  • Leading Change by John P Kotter
  • Warren Buffet Accounting Book
  • Leadership Challenge by James Kouzes

What is a recent purchase you have made that’s helped with your business?

  • Purchase of Payment gateway management to enable credit card purchases in our website
  • Purchase of shipping module to enable shipping our products for online purchases and deliver then through FedEx or USPS

If you didn’t end up in project management, what would be the next most intriguing business or job you would be interested in performing/developing your career?

Besides IT project management, my passion has always been sports, so I would love to be a sports coach, analyst or mentor where I would build the team based on their strengths and skills. Even working as an IT project manager in my current profession, I coach little league baseball and basketball for under 16/14/10 kids and help them develop skills important for on the field and off the field interactions.

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