On this episode of TheEdge podcast, ClearEdge CEO Leslie Vickrey talks with Artech Information Systems CEO and co-founder Ranjini Poddar on all things leadership. Ranjini and Artech have a long, and continuously growing, list of accolades that demonstrate their top position in the industry. Ranjini and her husband co-founded Artech 26 years ago, and the company currently employs more than 7,500 professionals and operates across the United States, India, China and Canada.
Ranjini’s explains how her business aptitude started at a young age, as her father was an entrepreneur who imported cast iron products. She often spent time at his company, starting as young as 10 years old, and even at 13 she was already familiar with spreadsheets and budgeting. While she ended up at Yale Law School after undergrad, and then spent five years as an attorney on Wall Street, Ranjini found herself being pulled back to the staffing industry and the company she has since grown to be an international staffing power player.
Ranjini credits the success of Artech to her amazing team and their passionate focus on long-standing client relationships. She shares how some of their clients have been with them for nearly 20 years, building a bond and mutually beneficial relationship that spans decades. She finds inspiration in her team and their hard work, and it drives her forward as a leader.
Leadership and Inspiration
When asked what it takes to be a great leader, Ranjini states that you have to be inspiring and set a vision that people can work toward, as well as identify with. While she doesn’t have one particular mentor, her father set a great example for her at young age. Along the way, she’s matured as a leader by watching others – whether it be clients, industry peers, conference panels and more. She stressed the importance of listening as a key leadership trait – you have to be willing to listen and learn at all times.
She also firmly believes it’s important to lead by example, and it’s something she’s held close to her, even after 26 years at Artech. Ranjini explains, “I never ask my team to do anything I wouldn’t to myself. You have to lead from the front.”
Ranjini shares how education is a big part of her leadership and motivation, and how it provides a foundation for whatever you want to achieve in life. It opens up so many opportunities and offers the chance for success – however you define that success. She stresses the importance of the mantra that “if you’re not learning, you’re not growing.”
While Artech and Ranjini continue to reach new heights, things haven’t always been easy. Early on, she shares how the business was in danger of getting left behind in the industry, and that they needed to grow in order to be viable. Even though the odds were stacked against them, Ranjini and her team created a new business development plan and fully executed against it – making it all about winning one contract at a time so they could grow in size. She shares that they, “had an attitude that ‘we will persevere and we will do it.’ We looked to the future and thought big.”
Ranjini comments that when you’re up against competitors that may have better relationships or more experience in a certain area, it’s really challenging, but it’s about believing in yourself and providing an innovative solution, and letting the chips fall where they may. While she doesn’t, “win every single time, she and her team win more often than not”
Being open to change is another tenet of Ranjini’s leadership style, and she encourages her team to do the same, “Part of leadership is to be comfortable with change and know that it’s going to happen. And learn how to leverage the change and take advantage of it.”
Advice for Women Leaders
Ranjini and Leslie discuss their shared passion for promoting women and creating new opportunities for female leaders. Ranjini shares that it’s a combination of things that have helped propel her business and herself forward. She suggests joined industry groups, being involved in industry associations, and getting out as much as possible, making sure to listen to others and ask for help when needed.
Looking ahead and Legacy
As she looks ahead to the future of the staffing industry, Ranjini states that while she doesn’t have a crystal ball, she knows technology will continue to play a critical role in upending the way she and her team do business.
As far as what she’d like to leave behind as a leader at Artech, Ranjini is proud to provide a livelihood for thousands of people across the globe, and looks to that as my legacy. As a firm Artech provides an opportunity for people to prosper professionally and personally, and she hope that she’s remembered for that.