Rekha Ramesh began her career as a programmer—but she only lasted three months because she couldn’t sit quietly.
So she moved to a software consulting house as a systems analyst. She would talk with different businesses—e.g., shipping yard, storage, and consumer goods companies—to hear what challenges they were facing and come up with a solution to fit their needs.
Since then, Ramesh has built a global tech career. She started in Singapore before moving to Sydney, Australia, and eventually across the pond to the United States. She’s held tech roles in the music, beauty, and retail industries, most recently serving as Tupperware’s chief digital and information officer (CDIO). In September 2022, Ramesh joined LifeScan, a world leader in blood glucose monitoring, as its CDIO.
“I still carry with me and apply the foundational skills I learned in my first job in technology to my roles in the C-suite,” she says. “While my role and responsibilities have changed—going from, say, multiple clients and going from a contributor to a doer to a leader—the same skills from my beginning I use today, every day. Now, my job is to say, ‘Go deeper and look for opportunities to bring in the relevant technology to enable the transformation.’”
When talking about her time at Tupperware, Ramesh highlights how one of the company’s biggest opportunities is that the brand equity is bigger than the business itself. Everyone knows Tupperware, so how do you enable digital transformation for a brand that’s been around for seven decades?
The two-part strategy was simple. First, digitize the Tupperware consultant—the independent representatives who host the iconic Tupperware party—journey so that per hour earnings are compelling compared with other gig economy companies. Second, make sure more consumers can access Tupperware products.
Tupperware consultants are natural social influencers, Ramesh explains, so they wanted to digitally enable those skills. Ramesh and her team, along with the business partners, took every aspect of their journey and provided a digital solution: virtual party hosting, a digital catalogue, etc. They also created a personal website for every consultant as well as an e-commerce site in more than twenty-five markets. And by the end of 2022, 70 percent of Tupperware’s footprint will be moved to the cloud.
At the end of the day, Ramesh says, digital transformation means doing something differently than what you did yesterday. “If you can improvise to bring a better customer experience to better enable the business, then that’s transformation,” she says. “Transformation is not one department’s job; it’s not one person’s job. It should be driven by everyone in the company.”
Digital transformation is a collaborative effort. Ramesh’s empathetic leadership style allows her to see herself in other people’s shoes and understand where they are coming from. She’s transparent with her team and values relationships—she’s still in touch with the first person she hired thirty-two years ago.
“If the teams don’t feel connected and if they don’t have the trusting relationship with each other,” she explains, “going that extra mile is very hard.”
That type of empathic leadership extends into how Ramesh uplifts the next generation of women in tech. She firmly believes in mentorships, and she connects with younger women through job shadows to help them bring their dreams to life.
As someone who has built a global tech career, Ramesh’s biggest piece of advice for women who want to do the same is simple: don’t doubt yourself. “No one is going to get out of bed thinking about your career more than you,” the CDIO notes. “Not only do you need to be clear on what you want, you need to express it.”