Embracing the change – Vijaya Lakshmi

Written by: Ranjani Rajendra

Name: Vijaya Lakshmi | Company: Zip Co | Role: LPMO (Project Management Office)

(April 17, 2023) When Hyderabad-girl Vijaya Lakshmi decided to make Canada her new home, she knew that it was an opportunity to expand her horizons, meet new people and carve a new niche for herself. What began as an internal work transfer for this Masters in Psychology, IT professional, gradually turned into an opportunity to call Canada home and make new beginnings.

Born and raised in Hyderabad, Vijaya began her career as a PMO with GE. It was during her tenure as senior manager at TechMahindra that she got the opportunity to move to Canada to work with their client. As she began a new life in Toronto, this IT professional decided to put down roots in a new country. “I’d been working in the IT space for various big banks and insurance companies. So when I came to Canada on an internal work transfer, I did not have to immediately struggle to find a job,” says Vijaya, who is currently working as an LPMO at Zip Co, a company in the Buy Now Pay Later space.

“My current position arose from my desire to help my organisation adopt change. While I began in IT as a French specialist and translator, my roles over the years have evolved into being part of and leading testing, business analysis, project management, and program and portfolio management,” she says, adding, “In my current role, I head the PMO and I am responsible for setting up processes to manage our programs and Agile transformation.”

While a typical work day for her involves collaborating with teams to bring them on the company’s change management journey, planning and coaching on Agile best practices, Vijaya ensures that she gets enough down time as well. Planning and prioritising play a big role in helping her strike an ideal work-life balance. “Fortunately, my organisation also encourages us to have a good work-life balance. On my part, I ensure I log off at a set time every day and ensure I prioritise my tasks religiously to avoid work spilling over into my ‘me time’. I usually have activities planned in the evenings to avoid the temptation to check work emails,” says Vijaya, who likes to use her time off to go on long drives, reading and playing badminton.

She also indulges her artistic side by making jewellery that she gifts to friends and loved ones. “Jewellery making happened after I stumbled upon a YouTube video on the topic a few years ago. It caught my fancy and I began dabbling in it as well,” says the MBA holder from Rotman School of Management. “I primarily use pure copper and real precious gems to craft my pieces.”

Vijaya’s handmade jewellery

The 47-year-old also makes it a point to showcase her Indian values in her everyday interactions. One of the things she enjoys doing to stay in touch with her roots is to help organise Diwali and other Indian festivals at her organisation. At the same time, she also enjoys interacting with people from diverse backgrounds. “My organisation is a young and dynamic one with people from not only different countries but also from diverse educational backgrounds. What is especially interesting is that our colleagues are multi-talented,” says the professional, who also holds an SPC from SAFe and consistently does enablement courses in SAFe to stay abreast at work.

A word of advice to aspiring immigrants

As a word of advice to those looking to move to a new country, she says, “Firstly understand where your true passion lies; don’t think only in terms of the job. Whatever you take up, ensure that your core passion is always emphasised. It’ll help you grow better professionally. Financially, it would be wise to live frugally for the first few years till you’re well settled in your new life. Do accept and adopt the new culture without compromising on your own. It’s also nice to participate in community activities to make new friends outside of the Indian diaspora. Most important, be open to opportunities; even if they don’t look like your dream opportunities.

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