Dependable Software Systems – Namratha Rao
Alumna Story — Namratha Rao
With her degree in computer science from the University Visvesvaraya College of Engineering in Bangalore, India, Namratha Rao worked for Accenture for over six years in positions of increasing responsibility, starting out as an associate software engineer and then eventually advancing to an application development lead. In this role, she led big data engineering and quality assurance teams across India, contributing her technical and leadership skills to implementing a Hadoop-based agile application for one of the largest banks in the United States.
She’d reached the point in her career where she realized that expanding her business and leadership skills would help her move on to larger roles. Namratha says she “didn’t think twice” about other graduate degree options once she discovered the MEL in Dependable Software Systems because of its unique combination of business and engineering classes.
“My technical strengths helped me excel in my career and I think I’ll always get great satisfaction from working on technical challenges,” she says. “I saw that the MEL would allow me to continue gaining experience on the technical side while moving ahead with my business and leadership skills to take on more challenging roles in organizations.”
Multifaceted program builds personal and professional skills
The MEL in Dependable Software Systems provides an overview of core disciplinary knowledge in data visualization, software testing and the design of secure computing systems, giving students the opportunity to gain knowledge across a range of areas. Having led multiple software quality assurance teams, Namratha says that a first-semester course on software verification and testing expanded her existing expertise to include software testing of safety-critical systems, while a course on error-resilient computing systems in the following semester also stood out.
She enjoyed how the coursework challenged her coding skills and took them “to a new level.”
Computer security was a new domain area for her. “This was an interesting course because we were put into the position of both the good actors – learning to build secure software systems – and the bad actors – learning how these systems are hacked,” she says. “The course also introduced us to some exciting technology areas like blockchain and cryptocurrencies.”
Falling in love with data visualization during one of her first-semester courses, she opted to take information visualization as her technical elective in her final semester.
“Data analytics and story-telling through visual representation using the most actionable data is a powerful skill to hone and I’m glad these courses have given me that added advantage,” she adds.
While the software engineering classes deepened her knowledge in some areas and introduced her to new knowledge in others, the business and leadership classes encouraged her to reflect on her own skills, values and strengths.
“These classes increased my level of self-awareness, teaching me how to make effective, unaided intuitive decisions and recognize my limits, helping me build on my strengths in critical decision-making.”
Namratha particularly enjoyed the discussions in her innovation and strategy and sustainable innovation courses, which encouraged students to think about the “three Ps” of planet, people and profits.
“I found this very relevant on both a business level and for me as an individual,” she says. “We always need to come back to answering the what, why and how. It’s important to think about your vision, your purpose and how you are measuring your success.”
Namratha also says that she really appreciated the MEL’s optional personal and professional development offerings throughout the year, which included sessions that brought in industry leaders to share their insights with students.
Opening doors to a new role
Namratha began actively looking for employment in October 2020, seeking positions where she could apply her multifaceted talents in software engineering and leadership. She was hired as a software automation quality assurance lead at Traction on Demand, one of North America’s largest Salesforce consulting and application development firms, in November 2020. Two months into her position in 2021, she says she’s working on two projects identifying automation opportunities and that the skills she acquired in the MEL helped make the transition to her new job a smooth one.
“Coming from my background in big data, Salesforce was a new technology area for me,” she explains.
“But the MEL gave me the confidence to take on challenges both technology-wise and business domain-wise. I knew this was the position for me because my values strongly resonate with Traction’s values and the job enables me to apply everything I have gained from the MEL program.”
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