From Technical Expert to Leader:
Building an Engineering Legacy

Q&A with Actalent’s Pranata Kalkura

Female leader and two colleagues work on digital software
Actalent’s Pranata Kalkura discusses leadership, overcoming self-imposed limits and being empowered to succeed personally and professionally.

"The future belongs to those who build it, not wait for it." Those are the words of Pranata Kalkura, a senior delivery manager within Actalent's Systems and Software practice group in India. In this interview, she'll discuss how and why she became a leader, the importance of pushing (and being pushed) past self-imposed boundaries, and her role in empowering all those around her, regardless of their background.

Q: You've gone from being a project manager to assuming a leadership role. Can you share key milestones in your career journey at Actalent and the pivotal moments that shaped this transition?

A: In my role as a technical architect, my exposure was initially limited to the technical aspects of projects. However, over my seven-year journey at Actalent, a notable shift occurred. I began to foster collaboration with our U.S. delivery partners and closely align with customers to support their strategic objectives. Furthermore, I seized the opportunity to lead a Centre of Excellence aimed at enhancing team capabilities and expanding our capacity. These experiences acted as a gateway, enabling me to explore the broader landscape of Actalent's business strategies, policies and organizational culture.

Q: Can you highlight the notable differences you've experienced while working as an engineer in both India and the United States?

A: While in the U.S., my responsibilities were predominantly focused on technical aspects. It was in India where I took advantage of the opportunity to broaden my scope beyond the technical domain. However, working in both countries provided unique challenges and opportunities, giving me a diverse professional experience. The differences emphasize the necessity of cultural adaptability and knowledge when working in different environments. I consider myself fortunate to have crossed paths with numerous remarkable individuals both in U.S. and India, creating great memories that go beyond work.

Q: How has the company supported your professional growth, particularly as you moved from a delivery role to a leadership position?

A: Open communication, supportive leadership and a culture that values growth and development have propelled me through challenges and into a leadership role. Instead of dictating work, my leaders have mentored me, highlighted pitfalls and empowered me to forge my own path. This not only helped me conquer obstacles but ignited my personal growth, proving Actalent's unwavering commitment to nurturing the careers of women engineers like me.

Q: What are your key leadership strengths and how have they helped you succeed at Actalent?

A: At Actalent, my leadership strengths have been adaptability and inclusivity. Early on, I learned to bridge the gap between technical expertise and the bigger business picture. This meant being open to new challenges, stepping outside my comfort zone and collaborating effectively with diverse teams.

Q: How do you encourage and empower your team members, especially in a male-dominated field?

A: I prioritize empowering team members by acknowledging their unique strengths, fostering open communication and actively seeking their perspectives. Creating a safe and inclusive environment allows everyone to thrive, regardless of gender or background, leading to more innovative and impactful results.

Q: What energises you about your work here at Actalent?

A: At Actalent, "People to Possible" isn't just a tagline – it's the fuel that ignites growth. Leaders here see beyond limits and push me beyond self-imposed barriers. This isn't just about operating in diverse and dynamic environments, it's also about personal evolution. Unwavering encouragement and unexpected mentorships continue to shape not just my career, but the very person I'm becoming.

Q: Having navigated the transition from technical roles to leadership, what advice do you have for women engineers aspiring to climb the leadership ladder?

A:The future belongs to those who build it, not wait for it. Believe in yourself and stay resilient; don't lose your self-confidence through unexpected challenges. Throughout my career, I've always believed that accepting a new opportunity while not knowing everything that needs to be done is far more valuable than accepting an opportunity while knowing everything. Let every opportunity become a stepping stone to your engineering legacy. Be bold, be relentless, be the engineer who writes history.