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Tech CEO Padma Vatsavai On Transitioning From An Individual Performer To A Leader 

For software company founder and CEO Padma Vatsavai, the satisfaction in her work was for many years rooted in solving complex technical problems to help business clients achieve their goals. 

“When I produced a good solution that worked and it was exciting to the user, it made me feel like all my hard work was worth it,” says Vatsavai, who founded Baton Rouge-based software firm Vinformatix in 2008. 

But when she stepped out of her day-to-day role developing technology to focus on growing her company, Vatsavai initially struggled to find the same fulfillment. Fortunately, she has learned to balance these and grow Vinformatix into a thriving 30-person company poised for further growth. Here’s a look at her journey.

The Transition 

The transition from individual performer to business leader presents a host of challenges for even the most accomplished worker. When high-performers are thrust into leadership positions without proper training, they often assume their job is merely to get the work done, when in reality the new responsibilities are always much more complex.

For Vatsavai, however, the traditional challenge of learning how to delegate wasn’t really much of an issue for her as she took on more of a business development role. The issue was navigating her very identity as a professional. “The problem was that I could no longer do the work that I enjoyed doing so much — designing software,” she says. “That was the most difficult thing I have ever had to do. I didn’t realize the struggle that would be involved with the transition.”

An industry veteran, Vatsavai has 25 years of experience in software development for public and private sectors, working as a software architect, team lead and software consultant at multiple highly regarded companies. She says the reason she started her own business was her love for technology and her passion for using those tools to solve problems. 

“That’s how I found fulfillment — not really the money that I made,” she says.

Fulfillment And Identity 

In the early stages of the company, Vatsavai was deep in the weeds on projects — from technical design work to providing oversight and management. When overflow development work taxed her staff’s resources, she would often step in to pick up the slack. “Whatever help was needed, I was the person who could help everywhere in the business,” she says. “I was working in the business but not on the business.”

As the company continued to expand, Vatsavai started to understand she would have to dramatically adjust her role in the business. She came to the realization that she needed to hire a Chief Technology Officer. After a two-year search, she was able to find the perfect CTO last year and start transitioning into her new role. “I had to get out of the day-to-day and this was one of the first formal steps to doing that,” she says. “The majority of my time is now spent doing business development and creating strategic partnerships.”

In her current role, Vatsavai finds satisfaction by focusing on the creative and technical components when she is proposing a software solution for a potential client. Her deep technical knowledge allows her to offer more substantive insights and solutions than a typical salesperson. “I can see their problem, I can fix this problem and say, ‘Here’s the solution,’” she says.

This new approach has clearly paid off. Vinformatix has been named among Inc. Magazine’s annual ranking of fastest-growing companies in the U.S. Vatsavai leads a team of roughly 30 software architects, software developers, database administrators, quality assurance experts, server engineers, project and account managers, analytics professionals and graphic designers.

“People are our greatest asset,” she says. “The systems we create are only as smart as the people that create them.”

Success Labs is a leadership development and management consulting firm in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. For more than 25 years, our expert team of consultants has worked with hundreds of companies to explore their business potential and improve their company and cultural performance. Contact us to get proactive about your people strategy.

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