Borrowed from SAMPADA old editions – for the 10th Anniversary Special Issue – Interviews section. This one is of Ashwin Rangan, 1982 Mech.
Team Sampada: Please give our readers a glimpse about yourself, your career and activities you are associated with.
Ashwin Rangan: My name is Ashwin Rangan, a name which I took when I naturalized as a citizen of the United States. It is a contraction of Ashwini Kumar Venkatarangan. That name was too challenging for easy pronunciation. Therefore, when I was given an opportunity to rename myself during the naturalization process (this is a common practice for immigrants in the US), I shortened it to Ashwin Rangan. I graduated with a Bachelors in Engineering (BE, Mechanical) from UVCE in 1982. I am married to Deepa Ramakrishna, who is also a graduate of UVCE. She earned her BE (Electrical) in 1983.
Following Bangalore University, I was accepted by the National Institute for Training in Industrial Engineering (NITIE) in Mumbai as a student. I earned a Post Graduate Diploma in Industrial Engineering (PGDIE) from NITIE. I was recruited by Tata Burroughs (which was later absorbed into TCS).
I have been a part of some terrific growth epics: Ducommun Aerostructures, AST Computer, Rockwell International, Conexant Systems, walmart.com, Edwards Lifesciences and now, ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) – all based in California. When I transitioned from AST to Rockwell, I was appointed Chief Information Officer (CIO). I have since served as the Head of Technology and IT in various organizations. I now serve as Senior VP, Engineering and IT for ICANN.
Apart from career, I am invested in philanthropy. Currently, I serve as Chairman for the American Red Cross in Orange County. I had served as President of TiE Southern California. Deepa & myself serve together in various capacities at the local Chinmaya Mission.
Team Sampada: Would you share some of the most memorable memories from your college days that you reminiscence even today?
Ashwin Rangan: I recently visited the UVCE campus. Not much has changed in the many decades since I graduated. As I walked the corridors, so many memories came flooding back.
As a student in UVCE, my interests went way beyond studies. I was a student leader – serving as a Class Rep for many years. I vividly remember the many meetings with the then Principals in their office room, adjacent to the quadrangle. I was also interested in Stage Arts and served as captain of the UVCE Stage Arts team for several years. The “stage” in front of the Library is familiar stomping-ground. I remember performing in front of the student-body many, many times… skits and especially, songs – with friends playing guitars, drums etc.
Sports like Softball (which we played on the GAS College grounds) and Shuttle Badminton (which we played in the quadrangle) are memories. And being a student-leader, I remember leading student “strikes”, when some University decision did not agree with our ideas.
Team Sampada: How would you describe your journey till date and how did UVCE aid you in the same? What inspired you at UVCE to want to pursue your passion?
Ashwin Rangan: My journey is a series of happy accidents under a grand-arc of a narrative which was directional, not prescriptive. Like many, my schooling was in local neighbourhood schools – where students were a homogenous mixture of boys and girls from the same local neighbourhoods.
Engineering clearly attracted me – as an analytical person. UVCE helped hone those skills. It also taught me street-smarts – since I was jostling shoulders with 80 others from many parts of Karnataka in a crowded classroom – and how to look after myself. Stage and sports taught me to play team-sports. Student-leadership taught me how to get others motivated, organized, and engaged in activities which were somewhat abstract (like ideas about what should be) removed from themselves.
One of our professors – a Dr T Yella Reddy (fondly called “TYR” by everyone) – had returned from the Oxford University with a Ph D. He had style, flair and personality. Like many (most?) of us in UVCE at the time, he came from a humble background. Yet – he had done what seemed to us like “the impossible”. He served as an inspiration – a character worthy of emulation.
NITIE sharpened all of the skills – I was exposed to students from every corner of India. The “art-of-the-possible” steadily became more global. That fire in our bellies which TYR lit… that fire burns bright still…
Team Sampada: From your unique experience can you please share words of wisdom for the engineers?
Ashwin Rangan: Coming from UVCE, we often look elsewhere and see people from IITs, NITs and other Insti-tutions with far greater repute and profile. It has been my experience that UVCE students can go as far as anyone else. Skills gained in UVCE are just as sharp as those gained elsewhere.
I have had the honor and benefit of earning advanced Certificates from UCLA in Los Angeles and Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts. I felt comfortable and at-ease, knowing that I was in a class of peers.
Serving global behemoths – including serving as CIO for WalMart, ranked #1 in the Global Fortune 500 list – I have come to understand that it is about you, your self-confidence & your ability to make a difference. The question is not where do you come from. The question to ask is, “What can you offer as value? How can you make an impact?”
Team Sampada: How do you think the alumni should participate in UVCE’s growth and development?
Ashwin Rangan: UVCE is an old Engineering institution in India. Sir MV’s name further embellishes it’s prov-enance. There is pride-of-association in and amongst UVCE alumni. We feel that when we bump into fellow-alumni – wherever in the world.
UVCE as an institution can do a much better job of keeping in-touch with its alumni. Many of us have no idea of the strategic plans for UVCE. We hear dribs and drabs now and then. Those pieces of information do not string together as a coherent strategy. To attract alumni par-ticipation, I feel that there are a few prerequisites:
- Create an Alumni network. (I know, for instance, that the Class of ’84 Mech Eng already has WhatsApp contact information for 55 classmates.)
- Join branches of Engineers who attended UVCE together. Many of us attended shared-sessions cutting across “branches” back in that day. So we know one another.
- Share UVCE’s strategic thoughts and plans.
- Many of UVCE alumni are now in stages of life where they want to “give back”. That feeling can be harnessed – but it starts with a shared vision.
– Ashwin Rangan, Sampada-119