Canadian tech leader Hema Jampala: An engineer at heart and a leader by practice

Written by: Ranjani Rajendra

Name: Hema Jampala | Designation: Director of Engineering | Company: CPPIB Investments | Place: Canada

(September 07, 2023) Growing up in Vijayawada in the 1990s, Hema Jampala was brought up on a staple diet of stories of how Archimedes discovered buoyancy and why Florence Nightingale is also known as the Lady with the Lamp. Inspired by these, she found herself being naturally inclined towards Math and Computer Science. Today, as director of engineering with CPPIB Investments in Canada, this India-born techie continues to find inspiration from stories of innovation and perseverance.

Hema Jampala, Director of Engineering with CPPIB Investments in Canada.

Introduced to the world of technology and innovation by way of these stories by her father Madhusudana Rao Jampala, a mathematics professor, Hema enjoyed and thrived in courses that involved the design and analysis of algorithms and data structures. Following her Bachelor’s in Computer Science from KL University, Guntur, Hema made her way to foreign shores for a Masters from Dalhousie University in Canada. “After my Masters, I worked for various organisations as an individual contributor and grew into a leadership role. My growth into leadership roles happened organically as I was solving bigger and more important problems for the organisations,” says Hema, who began her career as an independent contractor before joining companies such as GlaxoSmithKline, CIBC, HOOPP, RBC, Scotiabank, Amazon, and CPPIB. “Throughout my career I’ve made the effort to volunteer to step out of my comfort zone and learn and try innovative ways to solve problems.”

As director of engineering, she enjoys leading the engineering teams of organisations to undergo technological transformations and help build a vision for their technology landscape. “I am an engineer at heart and a leader by practice,” she says, adding that networking, mastering one’s craft and effective negotiation skills are essential to land that dream job.

A meticulous planner, Hema begins her day by working out a comprehensive plan of the tasks and deliverables for the day. Her work day typically includes a mix of activities ranging from architecting the systems design working with business counterparts to establish a vision and roadmap, strategising and planning with her team and troubleshooting and problem-solving. “I also set goals for learning and coaching apart from mentoring,” she says, adding, “When I’m not working, I enjoy cooking, spending time with family and playing with my dog. I also enjoy learning Bharatanatyam; it is my way of unwinding and staying close to my roots and culture.”

Given her hectic schedule on most days, Hema likes to divide her day into distraction-free slots to be able to deliver her best. “I believe in deep work slots with no distractions and an aim to produce definitive work in that time. This helps me get more done in a shorter span of time. I also push myself to exercise so I can stay fit and have the energy to do all the activities that I want to.”

A curious and continuous learner, Hema makes it a point to self-learn by reading from published papers, and white papers or learning by implementing. “Even at work I am part of the automation and improvement process to do away with mundane jobs,” she says, adding that she also likes to share her knowledge as a way to give back to society. “My father was a professor and was very passionate about teaching. The joy he got out of teaching is contagious. Inspired by him, I began teaching the course ‘Design and Analysis of algorithms’ at KL University virtually in a part-time role. It’s my way to give back to society and inspire young minds.”

Hema with her father.

Recalling her childhood in India, the Global Indian has fond memories of her time growing up here. “My fondest memories of life in India are the bedtime stories my dad used to tell me and how we dreamt about impacting at least a few lives through teaching,” she says, adding that she makes it a point to visit India frequently to meet family and reconnect with her roots. “When I retire, I plan to hop between India and wherever my daughter decides to settle. I want to spend more time in India and hope to give back to my country.”

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