Thara Srivathsa: A Visionary Leader Spearheading Innovation and Excellence in IT Consulting

Thara Srivathsa - CEO & Chief Mentor - ImproValue Consulting

Thara Srivathsa - CEO & Chief Mentor - ImproValue Consulting

The CEO Magazine - Spotlight - Thara Srivathsa.pdf

In an era where the business landscape is undergoing constant evolution and becoming increasingly competitive, the imperative for companies to remain successful has never been greater. In such a dynamic environment, innovation has emerged as a cornerstone of sustainable growth, with effective leadership playing a pivotal role in driving this innovation forward. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the IT and consulting industry, where staying ahead of the curve is essential for maintaining relevance and delivering value to clients.

At the forefront of this paradigm shift stands Thara Srivathsa, the Founder, CEO and Chief Mentor of ImproValue Consulting, who has been in the industry for over three decades. With a keen understanding of the evolving needs of clients in the ITES consulting space, specifically in the automotive domain, Thara has been instrumental in guiding ImproValue towards new heights of success. Her visionary leadership, encompassed by a highly experienced team of industry veterans, has enabled the company to navigate through the complexities of the modern business landscape and emerge as a leader in providing innovative solutions tailored to meet the unique challenges faced by clients.

Business Excellence

Established in July 2008, ImproValue Consulting, headquartered in Bengaluru, Karnataka, has emerged as a premier provider of bespoke solutions across domains, specialising in Business, Delivery, and Operational Excellence for various IT and IT-enabled organisations. Dedicated to enhancing the product and service capabilities of its clients, ImproValue aligns its productised solutions with the international standards and industry best practices like ISO27001 for Information Security, CMMI, ASPICE, Agile and ISO9001 for product development, LEAN, Six-Sigma and Kanban for work-flow optimisation. Guided by the by-line “Adding value to your business,” the company caters to a diverse clientele, including multinational corporations, defence research establishments, small to medium-sized Indian IT product companies, IT service organisations, and large banks’ back offices. Moving forward, ImproValue envisions becoming one of the top 10 players in India’s ITES consulting space, with a specialised focus on automotive related standards like ASPICE combined with ISO26262 for functional safety, ISO21434 for Cyber Security and TISAX for personal data protection.

ImproValue has assembled a team of seasoned professionals, including senior consultants with an average experience of 20 plus years and extensive global exposure across various industrial domains. Leveraging their expertise, ImproValue consultants excel in articulating business needs, workforce requirements, and end-user expectations, offering efficient and innovative solutions to enhance product quality, ensure process compliance, and rationalise costs. ImproValue’s suite of productised solutions, featuring iCOPS, iREM, and Assessment -framework, enables clients to swiftly adopt industry standards and meet regulatory requirements. This results in a remarkable reduction in cycle time by over 30 per cent. ImproValue also specialises in providing consultancy services in internal audit capabilities, business analytics for management reviews, risk assessment facilitation, and quality assurance activities for projects and products to achieve process compliance and product quality.

Thara Srivathsa, CEO and Chief Mentor, ImproValue Consulting

The leader, as we know her today, Thara Srivathsa, was born in Mysore and brought up in Bengaluru rural district. Educated in government schools and local pre-university college, she excelled academically, securing district-level ranks and national merit scholarships. Alongside her studies, Thara engaged in various extracurricular activities and sports like, chess, cricket, NCC, music, and performing arts.

Throughout her professional journey, she has travelled widely and collaborated with experts across various domains, fostering continuous learning. In her spare time, Thara pursues short-term online courses on platforms like NPTEL and SWAYAM to stay updated on the latest technologies, such as Machine Learning and AI.

On a personal front, she enjoys listening to music and fascinated to understand deeper aspects of creation, the universe, science, and spirituality. She is currently pursuing an online master level course in Vedic studies to understand, Vedic science and mathematics, considering them as the earliest treasures of knowledge, and exploring their applications and importance in the current context.

The Tale of Inception

Raised in an enterprising family, father being a science enthusiast, Thara was exposed to simple scientific models at home at a young age, which cultivated her curiosity and deep learning. Graduating from Mysore University with a bachelor’s degree in Electronics and Instrumentation engineering, she proudly became the first female engineer in her family.

Thara commenced her professional journey in the industrial automation sector, beginning as an Assistant Engineer at a thermal power station in Raichur, Karnataka, responsible for maintaining distributed logic controls. Transitioning to Japan based MNC Yokogawa, she spent seven years as a Senior Engineer and Project Manager for end-to-end system development projects in Singapore, Japan, and India across domains like petrochemicals, power, paper and so on. She was nominated to be part of ISO Quality Implementation team and obtained certification as an ISO9001 Internal Auditor.

Moving to the IT domain, Thara joined Wipro Technologies as an SQA Manager in the Telecom Vertical, focusing on process compliance, audits and metric analysis. Later, she led SEPG activities for the Embedded Vertical, overseeing external certifications for quality standards in niche technology domains like Aerospace, Automotive and Medical devices. She played pivotal roles in implementing CMMI models, collaboration with international study groups and leading LEAN and Six-Sigma practices from Manufacturing to Software development. Recognised for her contributions, Thara was certified as a ‘Lean Coach’ and ‘Six-Sigma Black Belt’.

After 15 years, Thara took a break to focus on her family. During this time, she envisioned a new journey in consulting. With support and guidance from her spouse, Srivathsa Malavalli, a renowned business consultant, Thara founded ImproValue Consulting in 2008. ImproValue has since provided consulting services to multiple organisations in IT and IT-enabled domains, aiding them in achieving business excellence and external certifications.

An Extensive Suite of Services

ImproValue focuses on three core areas - Business Excellence, Delivery Excellence, and Operational Excellence, to enhance the value it offers to clients.

Under Business Excellence, ImproValue assists in defining organisational policies, setting goals, identifying key business drivers, designing management dashboards for management reviews and implementing international standards such as ISO9001, ISO27001, Agile, ASPICE, ISO26262, and CMMI. Additionally, ImproValue assists clients in adopting regulatory requirements like the Indian Information Act and TISAX for Automotive.

Delivery/Service Excellence is crucial for revenue growth and customer satisfaction. ImproValue works closely with project teams in their customer organisation, providing Quality Assurance support, Agile coaching, RCA Facilitation, Risk Assessment activities, and arriving at project-specific metric dashboards. The company has certified Agile facilitators and offers a comprehensive Agile lifecycle framework.

As part of competency building offerings, ImproValue conducts workshops, induction training, and hand-holding sessions for project teams. Training covers various areas, including Quality, Information Security, Agile in hardware engineering, ASPICE with ISO26262 for functional safety, LEAN-Kanban for distributed teams, and MS-Excel for business analytics.

Operational Excellence offerings target all stakeholder groups within an organisation, focusing on process efficiency and workflow optimization. Using industry best practices such as LEAN, Six Sigma, and Kanban boards, ImproValue identifies process bottlenecks, load levelling challenges, and manual process steps to implement necessary improvements and innovative solutions. In IT-enabled groups like back-office, customer support teams and application maintenance, the company offers its data analytics solution, iREM, for predicting service request patterns and optimising resource allocation accordingly. iREM is developed using statistical models and MS-Excel worksheets which have been successfully adopted in large set-ups. Thara asserts,

“With Integrity, Innovation, and a Positive Approach as the fundamental values of ImproValue, we constantly strive to maintain contractual timelines and work towards what works best for customers.”

A Leadership Inspiring Collaboration and Innovation

In ImproValue, leadership takes shape in two key aspects: conceptualising new ideas internally and implementing organisation wide improvements in customer organisations.

Thara’s leadership style emphasises collaboration and co-creation within ImproValue, as seen in the development of their home-grown solutions like iCOPS and iREM.Navigating customer organisations presents challenges, requiring an understanding of diverse stakeholder groups and effective communication. Thara stresses the importance of clear articulation on the high-level approach to senior management and detailed guidelines and hand holding for the teams.

“As Dr. Abdul Kalam said – ‘A true leader is the one who is self-confident and hardworking, takes the blame for failures and gives credit to the team on success.’ These principles have been my guiding light throughout my professional journey,” remarked Thara.

She adds, “Being a woman, leadership comes with challenges of balancing family responsibilities with professional obligations. Sometimes, it means prioritising and sacrificing personal comfort to meet commitments. I’m fortunate to have received unwavering support from my spouse, parents, siblings, children, in-laws, and extended family.”

The Unique Selling Proposition of ImproValue

Innovative strategies serve as vital differentiators across industries. With the advent of new technologies and evolution of new standards for process and regulatory compliance, organizations need to constantly add new controls and practices into the system which makes it difficult and effort consuming for the teams to be compliant. Keeping this in mind, ImproValue has incorporated integrated approach to their products which combine multiple standards and industry best practices into a single framework like iCOPS, so that the processes are compliant to the needs of applicable standards yet flexible enough to customize as per the needs of the project or products.

Additionally, Senior consultants at ImproValue stay updated with the latest trends in the industry and challenges faced by their customer and swiftly adapt their service offerings accordingly. Sharing an example, Thara says,

“During the COVID pandemic, we worked closely with our clients to address Information Security, Cybersecurity related challenges due to remote work arrangements. Together, we implemented solutions to enhance security measures and ensure smooth operations for our teams and end customers.”

Navigating Setbacks

Conceptualizing ImproValue in its first couple of years and building Customer confidence was a big challenge initially. ImproValue deeply acknowledges the good referrals from colleagues and friends from professional network which resulted in new assignments and associations.

In its 15-year journey, ImproValue has collaborated with diverse clients, spanning multinational corporations to startups. Adapting swiftly to each organisation’s unique culture, geographical nuances, and managerial intricacies within the initial weeks of engagement remains paramount.Reflecting on their journey, Thara shares,

“Each new Customer and each new Assignment is a challenge by itself. Communication emerges as a central challenge for consulting firms like ours, given the array of stakeholders involved, including executives, certifying authorities, and end users. Effectively conveying recommendations demand adeptness in rephrasing and emphasising key points.”

Staying abreast of evolving technologies and industry standards also poses a constant challenge. To address this, ImproValue actively participates in webinars, seminars, and workshops, ensuring they remain informed about the latest trends and can realign their strategies accordingly.

Awards and Accolades

Throughout her career, Thara Srivathsa has achieved numerous milestones:

  • University Rank Holder in Engineering.

  • Six-Sigma Black Belt and LEAN Coach at Wipro.

  • Certified Lead Auditor - International standards for Quality, Information Security

  • Intellectual Property Rights course from WIPO, Geneva.

  • Review team member for CMMI-Acquisition Framework -by GM-USA and SEI-USA.

  • Provided inputs to Harvard Business Review on LEAN implementation for software.

  • Invited Chairperson for BSPIN Bangalore ‘Agile benchmarking Report presentation’.

  • Speaker for MBA students on Operational Excellence.

  • Key Panellist – ‘Break the Bind’ organised by Christ University and IEEE TEMS.

Apart from Thara’s individual achievements, ImproValue Consulting was acknowledged by Consultants Review Magazine in 2015 as one of India’s top 25 promising management and strategy consultants, while co-founder Srivathsa Malavalli was honoured as one of the ‘Top 10 Leaders in Business Consulting 2022’ by CEO Insights.

Nurturing Talent

ImproValue adopts a strategic approach to talent acquisition and retention amidst evolving workforce dynamics. Founded in 2008 with a focus on empowering women technologists, the company prioritises collaborative teamwork over hierarchy, resulting in a strong core group. Senior consultants seeking flexibility and niche consulting opportunities are drawn to ImproValue’s collaborative team culture. Strategic partnerships augment capabilities, while innovative talent management practices ensure long-term consultant retention.

With the rise of remote technologies, ImproValue has adapted to remote consulting engagements, further strengthening the industry ecosystem, and thus making it more cost-effective for their customers.

ImproValue leverages professional network and diverse sources like webinars, industry seminars, and online resources to stay updated on emerging trends. Consultants are proactively nominated for relevant trainings and courses. Client interactions serve as valuable learning opportunities, allowing ImproValue to anticipate industry shifts and adapt swiftly.

Redefining Boundaries: Future Initiatives at ImproValue

The automotive industry presents significant growth opportunities due to the escalating global demand for safety and security compliance, especially with the rise of electric vehicles and driverless vehicles. Additionally, with the global transition to non-fossil energy sources and India’s renewable energy plans, there’s a growing market for compliance solutions aligned with these initiatives.

Initially focusing on information security, business analytics, Lean Six Sigma, and software development standards, ImproValue has expanded the focus to the automotive domain in the last five years. Developments include productised solutions for ASPICE and ISO26262 compliance which are successfully implemented in client organisations. Present efforts involve integrating Agile with Automotive standards and strengthening cybersecurity and personal data security requirements in their solutions.

Thara emphasises, “Continuously upgrading to align with IT trends, we aim to leverage our experience and expertise for growth, meeting market needs effectively through offerings like iCOPS. We’re also expanding to cover emerging compliance and regulatory standards to provide integrated solutions to our customers’’.

Making a Difference

For Thara, giving back to the community is not just about making a difference; it’s about embodying a sense of shared responsibility, fostering unity, and leaving a legacy of compassion and goodwill for generations to come. She says, “Our family, through our non-profit initiative “Sugnaana Prathishtana,” where we:

  • Provide educational support to those in need, particularly in higher education.

  • Share knowledge and experiences with schools and universities.

  • Support towards reviving Bharat’s cultural, heritage and spiritual legacy, through music, literature & spiritual discourses/publications.

  • Promote ecological awareness and contribute for Cow-shelter homes

  • Contribute to funds for martyrs and nation building initiatives.

Leadership Mantra

“Reflecting on the past challenges of our sub-continent, I believe today’s youth in India have unparalleled opportunities to become successful leaders and employers rather than just job seekers. My advice to aspiring leaders is to focus on key technologies, conduct research, and create products that benefit the economy, safety, and environment.

While there’s no universal ‘success mantra,’ I’ve found passion, positivity, and innovation invaluable. Learn from every experience-success or failure, uphold integrity, and communicate openly.

Balancing work life is very important to manage one’s physical and mental health. Spend time with family, connect with nature, have hobbies, and contribute to well-being of society” shares Thara. As an afterthought, she adds,

“Managing work-life balance, sailing through traffic congestions in metro cities, and continuous upskilling pressures did raise stressful moments and health variations personally. During trying times, I found solace and guidance in teachings from the Bhagavad Gita and spiritual leaders. ‘Do your best and let results follow’ is what keeps one happy and peaceful as per bhagavad-gita which comes in handy even in the tough professional life!’’

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