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Inspirational Woman: Akhila Ramachandran Jha | Head, Information Systems, AXA

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Akhila JhaTell us about yourself

I am an IT professional. Having started my career as a programmer post my Masters in Computer Applications,  I continue to derive satisfaction in providing IT solutions to business problems. The real appreciation of IT in the role of business came during my tenure in American Express where I was the owner of IT systems for business sponsors.

In my current role in AXA, my focus continues to leverage technology to provide value manifold. In this era of fast-changing technologies, delivery models, operating principles and managing risks, its even more imperative that we constantly strive to provide value in a much more proactive manner.

The common thread is the desire not to give up. I am a firm believer in that – never give up, and always bounce back!

Tell us about any current trends or topics that inspire you

Just as we strive for financial inclusion at the grass roots level in India, I would love to promote technology inclusion.  I am very impressed by several crowd sourced / crowd funded initiatives that have made a big impact on our society. How can each child in any village have tablet-based learning? Or how can farmers across the globe share their experiences? There are still millions of people who are unable to leverage technology-enabled solutions that could help them have a better quality of life.

Another topic close to my heart is women’s rights. Here awareness, especially among women, is low. In addition there is a tendency to downplay issues like inheritance, child rights etc.  So far, I have been counselling in my private individual capacity. I would like to see a global initiative launched on this topic at some point!

What has been your biggest challenge in achieving your success?

I guess all of us have read Indra Nooyi’s interview!  Managing home and work and juggling multiple roles are always challenging.  I am a firm believer and practitioner of work-life integration. It has worked for me so far! I have enjoyed my journey thus far and so I really don’t think any of the challenges were unsurmountable.

What has been your greatest achievement personally?

I have had the good fortune of working with great corporates.  Each of the them have given me the freedom and supported me in creating value – really impactful value – by way of solutions, frameworks, etc.  I look back at those moments and I feel blessed to have been able to provide value at these large companies.

If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you be doing?

Teaching Quantum Mechanics to graduate students!

I have enjoyed my journey thus far and so I really don’t think any of the challenges were unsurmountable.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

Not a single person, but several individuals.  I get inspired by acts of courage and determination, however small.  I am inspired by Stephen Hawking. I am inspired by Sachin Tendulkar. I am inspired by Oprah Winfrey. The common thread is the desire not to give up. I am a firm believer in that – never give up, and always bounce back!

What does the future hold for you?

I enjoy what I am doing – creating value for my customers.  At some point in life when I would like to quit my corporate avatar. I would definitely plunge into public service globally.

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