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𝘿𝙤𝙣'𝙩 𝙐𝙣𝙙𝙚𝙧𝙚𝙨𝙩𝙞𝙢𝙖𝙩𝙚 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙬𝙤𝙧𝙠. 𝙎𝙪𝙘𝙘𝙚𝙨𝙨 𝙩𝙖𝙠𝙚𝙨 𝙏𝙧𝙪𝙚 𝙋𝙖𝙨𝙨𝙞𝙤𝙣 - Kavita Kalatur
Kavita Kalatur Chairperson and Venkatapathi Puvvada "PV" CEO of NetImpact Strategies Inc. shares how to define 𝐏𝐮𝐫𝐩𝐨𝐬𝐞 and How to find the 𝐖𝐇𝐘 behind building a business with the DC Local Leaders Podcast for Episode 32
𝐒𝐮𝐛𝐬𝐜𝐫𝐢𝐛𝐞 𝐓𝐨𝐝𝐚𝐲 𝐓𝐨 𝐇𝐞𝐚𝐫 𝐅𝐮𝐥𝐥 𝐄𝐩𝐢𝐬𝐨𝐝𝐞𝐬 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐈𝐦𝐩𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐟𝐮𝐥 𝐋𝐞𝐚𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐌𝐢𝐧𝐝𝐬𝐞𝐭 𝐓𝐢𝐩𝐬 𝐖𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐄𝐧𝐣𝐨𝐲 𝐏𝐨𝐝𝐜𝐚𝐬𝐭 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐎𝐧 𝐈𝐧𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐠𝐫𝐚𝐦 @𝐝𝐜𝐥𝐨𝐜𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐬
PV joined NetImpact Strategies Inc. in February 2021 with 30+ years of results-oriented success. Previously, he served as the President of Unisys Federal, a 𝙒𝙖𝙨𝙝𝙞𝙣𝙜𝙩𝙤𝙣 𝙏𝙚𝙘𝙝𝙣𝙤𝙡𝙤𝙜𝙮 Top 50 government contractor. He shares how being the son of a Farmer shaped his #Mindset and has been instrumental in his #success.
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Phillip K. Naithram, Host DC Local Leaders: Well, welcome. We’re here in the office of net impact strategies with Kavita and PV.
Kavita Kalatur, Chairperson: Hi, I’m Kavita founder and chairperson of net impact strategies and happy to be here. Thank you.
Venkatapathi “PV” Puvvada, CEO: Hi, I’m PV Puvvada CEO of net impact strategies glad to be here. Glad to be doing this with Comida.
Phillip K. Naithram, Host DC Local Leaders: As soon as I walked in into the other conference room, I saw something. It said work hard, stay humble. Is that a motto
Kavita Kalatur, Chairperson: yeah, I think it was the Genesis of who we are as people and why we started the company. And I think it permeates our culture in terms of, you know, not just, we don’t really hire only for, for technical aptitude. Right. We hire for the attitude too. And that I think is really what makes us who we are and a trusted advisor to our client.
Phillip K. Naithram, Host DC Local Leaders: Aptitude and attitude. I like that. That’s nice. you said you started a couple months ago
Venkatapathi “PV” Puvvada, CEO: Yeah. After a 30 plus year career with Unisys corporation.
Phillip K. Naithram, Host DC Local Leaders: Was that a big change for you to go from there to here? Was that scary or vulnerable at all?
Venkatapathi “PV” Puvvada, CEO: It’s interesting. And I took some time off my business was sold last year and I just wanted to take some time off and take a break. I’ve known Kavita for a long period of time. And I think part of the discussion was around. Is this something that I could transition to really, and what it comes down to is you, you can lead big organizations, you can lead, smaller organizations, it’s about your passion and what you’re leading, leading towards. And Kavita built a great team and a great enterprise and very, very focused around not only the motto that we just talked about, making a difference and making a difference for the clients, making a difference for the community, making a difference for our people. So, it’s a great way to can I make your impact? And that’s part of our name net impact. Yeah. And so, it’s been, it’s been an exciting two and a half months.
Phillip K. Naithram, Host DC Local Leaders: Was it a big change for you to step back from running the company to bring someone else in? What brought about that thought process or what made you want to do that?
Kavita Kalatur, Chairperson: So, I’ve always believed to surround myself with people who are way smarter than me. And I think that’s really been why we’ve been so successful and, you know, As the business was growing way faster than I even anticipated. Right. We were beating our estimates every year and we were heading into this Mid-Tier market space. I knew we needed a different kind of thinking to help the business continue to scale. You know, it was very important, not just again, to get the person with the right experience and vision and strategy, but also to get someone who would be a good cultural fit, because we are such a culture driven organization that wanted someone who shared our core values and who would provide that leadership with integrity, which, you know, the people over here value. And that’s, what’s made this transition to PV so easy because literally my transition with him was one. Over a holiday. Like here it is, call me if you need me and he’s not calling me. So, I guess he’s fine.
Phillip K. Naithram, Host DC Local Leaders: What So, would you say is the culture of net impact?
Kavita Kalatur, Chairperson: it’s work hard, stay humble and it’s, it’s really you know, from a customer perspective, it’s, it’s really about the customer focus, making their lives easier, but it’s, it’s also driven by really being passionate about what we do and taking pride in the work that we produce working very collaboratively, whether it’s internally, externally with partners and working with that integrity.
And, you know, we don’t look at anything as a transaction. We look at it as a relationship. So, you know, we invest in it and we work with that long-term focus and, and, you know, clearly, we’ve attracted a large group of people who share those core values and that’s really helped bring us to where we are.
Phillip K. Naithram, Host DC Local Leaders: Talk to me about what it was like when you first started net impact? What were you doing at that time? And what brought about that mindset? That I think I want to do this on my own, or I’d like to service clients on my own
Kavita Kalatur, Chairperson: So, I call myself the accidental entrepreneur. So, I was actually at Oracle.
I had ended up at Oracle through an acquisition and it was running one of the practice areas for the Americas run. One of the products that they had. And, you know, I I’d experienced the big company culture. And I had worked with some founded on companies, Primavera, which they acquired was a mature company and for me it was more about the cultural fit and wanting to do work directly for the customer without a whole bunch of internal bureaucracy. That’s telling me you can’t do this, or you can’t do that right in within a realm of reason. Right. I understand that their contracts and things like that. So, when I left, I actually left because I thought.
She’s going to go support one of my customers, which was defense health at that point was called Tri-Care. And I thought I was a 10 99. Right. I really didn’t expect to get to where we were, but I left and I started around me. People had end of your money. And they were like, hey, we wanted to work with you. You understood our problems. You were solutioning for us. Would you want to do this for us? And I have a hard time saying no. So, and you know, started off like that, use my partner network to support some initial engagements and then some met some other phenomenal mentors along the way who told me I could do this and made me believe in something that I didn’t believe in. And you know, and then we started growing.
Phillip K. Naithram, Host DC Local Leaders: What about you? Because you ran a company for a while to o but I guess I’m, I’m interested in not, I want to get into the process of running the company in the early days and what that’s like, and, and the difference between then and now. But what was it that first sparked within you to, to start doing something on your own?
Just, I know that you were a consultant for a while and then you became, you know, something a little bit different, but what was it.
Venkatapathi “PV” Puvvada, CEO: I think I have run really hard for 30 years working for a large multinational global corporation, doing lots of things and. That was very successful resulting in me leading the organization of 3000 people as a CEO and president of the business. I was trying to figure out, been there, done that in, started down at the bottom rung and 17 promotions later, I accomplish a lot for the company, for myself, for the people that I’ve been working with. I just wanted to do something different. First of all, I want to do something different. That makes a difference. And so, there was a discovery process that one goes through, lots of people reach out and say, hey, we got, we got this business multi-billion-dollar business. Would you want to run it? You know, go grow the business, et cetera. And I wanted to work with people that I could resonate with from a leadership perspective. I really appreciated the entrepreneurial spirit with which Kavita has been growing this business and doing it the right way. It seemed to me that combination of both of us, what we could do together with her passion for making a difference with my passion, for making a difference. Yeah. It seemed like very complimentary.
And if he asked me about a year ago, a hit is where I would be working at a mid, smaller midsize company. I would have said probably not, because I don’t know what I wanted to do.
Phillip K. Naithram, Host DC Local Leaders: and you had just sold a company, I mean, you could have taken some time off,
Venkatapathi “PV” Puvvada, CEO: Yeah. I could have taken some time off. And I think at the end of the day it goes back to. The passion that I will always have. I was, I entered the business of the Dawn of technology revolution in late eighties, early nineties saw the power of what technology could do to make a difference in people’s lives, especially in the government, which needs a lot of help from us and from others, because, you know, they don’t have the resources internally to be able to figure this out, saw you know, there’s just part of that technology. That’s making a difference in the mission. And I think as I thought about it, it is making even bigger difference in, in a platform that just doesn’t have a significant set of hurdles that you typically come at Leaders: the bigger company whether you’re leading it or not, you know, do make a decision. It goes down into doing six different presentations to make an internal decision here. It’s 30 second discussion. Once people are aligned, you don’t need to go prep a presentation for a presentation for our presentation, right? So, you focus your energies outwardly in solving that challenge that your customer has and that’s entrepreneurship at its best
Phillip K. Naithram, Host DC Local Leaders: It sounds like you both share the same sort of mindset that you want it to be as agile as possible to be as useful as possible to the client. But you know, to, to do that, it sounds like you’re both technical people. Do you think that that is a prerequisite for doing what you’re doing or is there a balance between that and soft skills and maybe someone who isn’t quite as technical can still be as effective?
Kavita Kalatur, Chairperson: I’m an econ major
Phillip K. Naithram, Host DC Local Leaders: so, you’re not technical. You just found your spot. You found yourself at Oracle,
Kavita Kalatur, Chairperson: Yeah. But you know, you can learn technology. It’s harder to learn psychology. So, I really think most of technology is really a people-oriented opportunity slash problem, both. Right. It’s a double-edged sword. So, I think 80% of my success is really connecting with the people understanding what is it that they want and really being able to build solutions that make their lives easier. Do I write the best java code now? You know, I have people who can help me fix my syntax, but I know when a person opens the, the system, what kind of views would make sense for them, what would make their jobs easier? And, you know, to be able to think that way, I think has been more of my success, but like I said, I’m an econ major.
Venkatapathi “PV” Puvvada, CEO: So, I have engineering degree. I didn’t have much background about computers. So, what I find it to be useful is engineering teachers should have critical thinking and solving hard problems. So, it’s more about that then knowing specifics about certain things, even though that’s very useful. So, when you come from that mindset, you know, you have to learn or that background, you have to learn the softer things that come naturally to you know, folks that are trained in liberal arts and other non-engineering, technical things.
A lot of that comes from practice. A lot of that comes from who you are, but at the end of the day, it’s about the focus. What focus do you want to have? And it comes down to leadership, leadership style, and there are different than a lot of people that can be successful in the business. There are a lot of people that are successful.
It’s not about running contracts. And a lot of people do it’s about doing things that inspire people. And that comes with practice. And I agree with capita, you don’t have to be technical to be successful. Personally, I found it you know, and then I became very technical in the computer field and have had the opportunity to do lots of different things.
Be in the sales, being the delivery, being the clients and be the advisor that 360-degree view, you can start anywhere as long as you had the full spectrum of experience, whether you get personally trained or not is very helpful. So, you, you think multi-dimensional, and that’s where teamwork makes a big difference, right?
So, you want to sit down yourselves for the people that are complimentary to you. Otherwise, it’s just going to be this. Same viewpoint and same things. So, some of the best sort of analytical thinkers that I’ve met are English majors and say spear in literature, PhDs, and people that have law degrees and people that have econ degrees or finance degrees.
It’s just a diversity of thought, but leadership is all about learning new things. And some of them are harder to be honest with you from a career coaching perspective, many people don’t necessarily have the benefit of the advice that they need. And that’s what we’re trying to do differently here is to create an, a foster, a culture of where we’re trying to grow people, but give them what I call asymmetric advantage. And things that you don’t think about that are disruptive, that are different. Okay.
Phillip K. Naithram, Host DC Local Leaders: Yeah. I love that. You’re talking about coaching. You’re talking about mindset developing that mindset. And one thing you mentioned that I really like, I’ve heard this a lot. I’ve done. Just the 360, you can start anywhere on that wheel, but it’s a wheel and it’s got a roll. If anything is out of whack or, you know, falls below or above the other, it’s not going to roll very well. So, you, but you can start anywhere.
What are some of the things that you guys do individually as a person to kind of prepare yourself and keep track of your mindset to be that leader or that mentor you have a morning routine.
Are you taking cold showers? Are they a morning meditation routine? I mean, I’m, I’m telling this is what I do but, that’s a big deal for me. I’ve gone on silent retreats. I purposely work on those things. And as I talk to other leaders, they all seem to have some sort of routine or something that they do to help work on themselves so that they can show up you know, at work in the lives of other, other people that they’re impacting.
Kavita Kalatur, Chairperson: For me, it’s meditation and tea.
Phillip K. Naithram, Host DC Local Leaders: Hmm. What kind of meditation do you do?
Kavita Kalatur, Chairperson: I use the calm app. So, I, for me, I find it like, because my mind is like got a million thoughts racing all the time and it just helps ground me. And I think what it’s done for me, I’ve been doing this for about two or three years now. I think it slowed me down enough to be able to be more mindful and aware of others and what their needs are in a way that when you’re just go, go So, you sometimes unintentionally cause a lot of chaos.
You know, it’s like, sometimes my it’s almost like I don’t do it for myself. I do it for the people around me. So, I think that that is something that I’ve personally found helps me quite a bit. And you know, 2020 was good because it put me on an exercise routine, which I find is like, what I need at the end of the day to just, you know, help me on wind.
And then I get a second wind. And so, I’m not known to be a super morning person because I sleep very late.
Phillip K. Naithram, Host DC Local Leaders: I was going to ask. So, so this meditation that you do in the workout, is it more in the evening then?
Kavita Kalatur, Chairperson: Yeah, I can meditate any time, like even 15, 20 minutes between meetings, like, but I I’ll do it throughout. But exercise, I do in the in the evenings. But I also do like, pranayama and I do a lot of the breathing and all that stuff, which also is probably.
Phillip K. Naithram, Host DC Local Leaders: yeah. What are your mornings usually look like? Or do you have some reading time or like what
Kavita Kalatur, Chairperson: these people schedule meetings at like seven in the morning. They’ve been brutal. I’m like, I sleep at three like, can you not do this to
Phillip K. Naithram, Host DC Local Leaders: Yeah. So, they’re getting in the way of your program here
Kavita Kalatur, Chairperson: I know. No. I mean, it’s changed quite a bit, I think since 2020, because we’re so used to like, you know, just being able to roll into a meeting without having to worry about commutes and things like that. But I like to start my day quiet with a cup of tea and just be able to like, just, you know, process, like actually really even thinking about nothing has become awesome because it actually like clears your mind and makes you more productive.
If you told me that like four or five years ago told you you’re crazy, like how can you stop? You have to keep doing right. How can I waste a minute? But I’ve actually found that unplugging and just being calmer in the morning makes you more productive and a better person through the day.
Phillip K. Naithram, Host DC Local Leaders: Yeah. It’s like working out. If you just constantly did wraps and didn’t take rest. I mean, you’ll do some, but you’ll fail at some point, but if you did, you know, a set of five and took a break and then a set of five and took a break, you’ll get way more done. It’s about those in-between moments, the breaks in between.
What about you? I mean, you’re wearing a full suit right now, so you look like, you know, you’re, you’re off and running.
Venkatapathi “PV” Puvvada, CEO: Yeah. So, I don’t do anything profound, like Cavite talks about, but as far as routine goes, and this is something I’ve been doing for 30 plus years, wake up every morning, but I would, that is, it depends get a cup of tea and get physical paper, wall street journal. I’ve been reading wall street journal for 30 plus years just to kind of, you know, get a sense of what’s going on, but also understand what the environment looks like.
It’s not just about business and that’s kind of fresh into your thought process. And then I do the same on a weekend. I’ve been reading the economist magazine for about 25 years. Sometimes, you know, you get caught up on, on a Saturday. Read the magazine for the rest of the week and the next week comes in.
So, it’s like, you know, your homework piled up kind of a thing, but that’s very interesting, but refreshing that’s, you know, that routine kind of sets you to learn somethings new, but also get the perspective in terms of what do I do to kind of get away from stuff. I do two things. Actually. One is gardening during summertime vegetable gardening.
I’m a farmer’s son, so it must have been in the blood and just dig and, and put the seeds in and get the stuff going and just water. The plant during summer time. And you’re not thinking about anything. You’re just thinking about, you’re watching that last year during the. I, I got interested in birdwatching.
So, we went in and, or did a lot of nest boxes and where it says fascinating watching those kinds of things. But just as much for me is what not to do is I have very good discipline about when I, when I say I’m done, done at the night, it’s an 8, 9, 10, whatever that is, shut the phone off. Don’t bring it upstairs.
Don’t watch TV in the bedroom. Just read something before you sleep and just go and recharge your batteries. But not anything specific or profound like meditation or anything like that.
Phillip K. Naithram, Host DC Local Leaders: A couple of things I want to ask you about is you said you wake up whatever time that is. Do you just allow your body to naturally wake up or do you set up set a?
Venkatapathi “PV” Puvvada, CEO: most often? I don’t have to set a clock. Yeah. You know, you go late in the night or whatnot, you know, you, you do set a clock, you know, you have a client meeting at DC at eight o’clock in the morning. And,
Phillip K. Naithram, Host DC Local Leaders: Within reason,
Venkatapathi “PV” Puvvada, CEO: yeah, I don’t know how, who schedules her seven o’clock meetings, but, you know, I don’t, I don’t, I don’t do seven o’clock meetings.
That’s my reading time.
Phillip K. Naithram, Host DC Local Leaders: You being a farmer son and understanding farming from the perspective, like, you know, the, the work that goes into growing a crop and the, the upkeep and maintenance that it takes to. Care for a garden, especially a food garden, right. A vegetable gardens. What do you think that that did for you even at a young age to prepare you for what you do now, which leading companies is similar? You, you plant those little seeds and you continue to care for those, you know, those business lines, those people in your organization, those crops, those things that you care about, what do you think that that did? Do you think that had any impact on who you become now?
Venkatapathi “PV” Puvvada, CEO: Absolutely. I’m Phillip that’s, that’s really a good question. It is about you talked about nurturing. It’s also about hard work and it’s also learning when you, when you plant seeds, not all of them come, so you’ll learning disappointments and one-year things do really well and next year you plant the same. It doesn’t come. And also, it’s about self-sufficiency, it’s about you know, it’s not just, you know, a hobby per se, but you’re also thinking about, okay, you know, I, I have this and that has a significant impact and quite honestly, close to home when I was doing work with the department of agriculture.
And especially the rural development I can resonate with. Oh, these are the people that are in need and let’s make sure the modernization that we’re doing just makes it easy for the farmers. We, as a company also have agriculture as a big client here. So, it’s, it’s going back to like growing stuff.
But also growing people as you’re going through and people are not going to take a straight line to grow and to help them understand and learn from that. That’s definitely, I didn’t think about it actually, till you asked that question, but as I think about it, that had an impact in, and you know, it goes back to the humbleness in which our country you’re in you. If you’re in farming, you know, you’re going to have a hard time and you get humbled.
Phillip K. Naithram, Host DC Local Leaders: My light bulb went off when you said that. Cause that’s goes to some of that entrepreneurial spirit. You mentioned that of sustaining yourself. Not, not that if you work for someone else, you’re dependent on that person, you can be empowered within your company not everyone is required to be an entrepreneur, but there is something about certain people that want to do it on their own and know that they can do it on their own.
What about you growing up? What, you know, what was your home life like? What were your parents like and what do you think, you know, what did they do? And what impact did that have on who you become?
Kavita Kalatur, Chairperson: It’s pretty pampered.
Phillip K. Naithram, Host DC Local Leaders: where are you where they nice to you? Your parents were nice to you.
I don’t Know why I’m so shocked by that I think that says way more about me than it does about you. So, I just want to apologize. I don’t know why that surprised me.
Kavita Kalatur, Chairperson: No, I, I think my, my dad has had a very difficult life growing up and he started working when he was 13. His father had passed away. He was living at someone else’s house and, you know, putting himself through school and stuff. So, I think for him, he wanted to be self-sufficient right. Like that really started him off at 13 telling them he was much older, getting a job and, and really networking within the company. Like he started off as a clerk in a warehouse. And then when the managers in that organization was starting a new business, they actually pulled him in to be a director with them. Right. So, he, he really was very committed to the job, but he also knew and worked well with people and, and he really built everything that he had from scratch.
I think a lot of my work ethic comes from seeing that and in appreciating everything that I have today really came from, you know, the efforts that he put in and what he was able to do. I also take it as a personal responsibility that, you know, if he started with nothing and he got it there, you know, I started with everything and I I’m very grateful for that, but I also think to whom much is given much is expected. So, I try to live that as my own personal philosophy, whether it’s at work or, you know, in what we do in life, that that is important way more than, you know, like PV was saying the next contract next month. You know, next million or whatever it is, it’s, it’s really those long-standing relationships with people. And I will tell you like that is the basis and the foundation of the happiness in my life, as well as my success.
Phillip K. Naithram, Host DC Local Leaders: how are you defining success for yourself? Right. Just in general. Like when you think of, I’m a successful person today, what’s, what’s that image that’s in your mind, that’s telling you. That’s why,
Kavita Kalatur, Chairperson: I don’t know if I’m successful. I think I’m a work in progress, but because I still think there’s so many aspects of me that can be better. But I think, you know, for me, it’s on a daily basis, just being able to like, you know, look back at the day, you know, be grateful for the lessons learned in the, the people who’ve been there to support me.
And then just going to bed, feeling like I’ve accomplished something, I made a contribution, you know, whether it is at work, doing something for a colleague, doing something for a friend. I really think it’s, as I’m getting older, it’s, it’s a lot more than just who work. I, I really look at it more holistically around. How we work together as people and how we stay connected. People in relationships mean a lot to me.
Phillip K. Naithram, Host DC Local Leaders: What about you? Do you have a, like a specific definition for success or, fulfillment that your kind of live by, or that you try to aspire to on a daily basis
Venkatapathi “PV” Puvvada, CEO: I think it evolves as, as you kind of grow, as you learn about things, learn about yourself, learn about your environment. So, to me, success is about a sense of accomplishment, fulfillment, and satisfaction about yourself, really. And it’s not really about, you know, what you have achieved or you know, what your recommendations are. It’s about. In ourself feeling that you’re making a difference. I think that’s my definition of success.
Just as much a definition of success is that to those matters is about whatever you achieved. You achieved along with the people because of them and sharing that success is just as important as opposed to a personal thing. You know, it’s always, you know, personal achievement is great, but who, who did you do that with from a professional perspective?
And you know, there, there are, you know, classic measures of success. But I think you want to look at intangibles the success and that’s what drives different individuals are driven by different things. Is that the challenge meeting a challenge in and rising up to the challenge overcoming? Those obstacles and nothing are easy.
And especially for people like us who have very high expectations and we tend to raise those expectations as we go along. But that’s, that’s all with a purpose on what we’re trying to do. Success is all about you know, being happy for me being fulfilled at the end of the day. I always think about I’m a father, I’m a husband, I’m a son, I’m a brother I’m a friend. And that’s just as much defining then, you know, what did you do in our company? Obviously, we want to do great things as a company in which we’re going to, and we have a great vision and built on the tremendous success coming down to the team here, had but it’s friend. all about, you know, what makes you happy and how do you think about yourself?
Phillip K. Naithram, Host DC Local Leaders: How do you think becoming a father changed the way that you communicated with other people, you know, within your organization?
Venkatapathi “PV” Puvvada, CEO: Yeah. That’s really interesting. And yeah, lots of stories about how it does that humble you, because before you become a father, you aren’t in control, you know, you’re, your w you know what you’re doing, and obviously with the kids, you got to get a lot of patients sometimes you know, I wasn’t sure.
When I came to work, I’m babysitting, my kids are maybe sitting challenging people, right? So, they do interrelate, but it’s also a sense of you know, growth. You’re able to, the difference that you are able to make. And it also makes you more human. You know, it’s not all about the business. It’s about people, it’s about what you do.
And it’s just you know, gives you a dimension that is an important, and obviously that is emotional love. And while you tend to not to be rational about those kinds of things, when it comes, I think that’s a softer side of what you get as a father. That experience that you have is just as an important ingredient that you need to be successful in leading organizations, running business.
Phillip K. Naithram, Host DC Local Leaders: What about you Kavita do you think, you know, being a parent changes the way that you communicate with other people or you know, does that make for different types of Leaders?
Kavita Kalatur, Chairperson: I think I’m being more patient with other people than I’m with my kid, but Leaders I know, you know, for me it’s been a little different because I started net impact when my daughter was three years old. So., I think I gave a lot of my energies to the business and it was almost like having a second child and she has been extremely patient. But it’s also made her very independent and in when she’s 15 now, and when I look at her, I learned from her on a daily basis, like the other day we were, we were chatting and we were talking in the car about something about people and leadership, and she started a new initiative. So, we discussing that and she’s like, it’s okay. I’m a little frustrated, but I’m always going to assume positive intent. And that just made me like pause and think I’m
Phillip K. Naithram, Host DC Local Leaders: Is that something you’ve said before?
Kavita Kalatur, Chairperson: no, but it’s something I learned. And now, right since I heard that, even I go in and like, why couldn’t you think of that? I’m like, no assume positive intent. Like, it’s not like they’re trying to like, you know, frustrate you, like, you just want to look at it and, and be a little bit more patient.
So, I think I’ve, I’ve been learning a lot from her in terms of patience and perseverance and grit. And so, she’s definitely an inspiration to me and she’s been extremely patient because I’ve literally watched her grow up on, on FaceTime and you know, we communicate mostly on WhatsApp, so but she’s So, turned out. Okay.
Phillip K. Naithram, Host DC Local Leaders: Was that hard for you as a mother, just to be disconnected from your, your daughter like that?
Kavita Kalatur, Chairperson: I think it was, but again, it’s like, once you make a commitment for me, like, it was like, okay, I made this commitment to the client, right. Like I had to deliver and I think I always expected people at home to understand. And then I’ve been very, very lucky that I did have that support system without whom I couldn’t have done as much as I have. I am not, I recommend it, but I think, you know, over a period of time, I’ve understood how to find a better balance. But in, in the initial years it was very hard to, because of you know, the age factor and also that, you know, both the business being young and her being young, it took a little bit more of a balance.
Phillip K. Naithram, Host DC Local Leaders: what do you think, w what impact do you think you’re having on her being in the position that you’re in for her perception of what’s possible as she gets older, she’s 15. She’s eventually going to go to college. She’s going to think about careers. Do you think that you’re impacting her? Do you guys talk about that or do you think that that’s the thing that you’re impacting? What she sees herself as at the possibilities
Kavita Kalatur, Chairperson: I don’t know that she’s, you know, she’s much more STEM-focused and she’s, you know, very, very focused and has a lot of clarity in terms of what she wants to do which is way more than I had growing up. But we do talk a lot and I think a lot of the conversations she S she started this thing called right. Cause, which is like a, a global platform for teens to express their, their thoughts on social issues. And so, it’s a volunteer event. She’s got volunteers from across the country and the way she’s organizing them, running the meetings action items.
I would say, take some credit for some of that. Right. I think she’s really learned, and she’s been in cars, she’s been listening to these conversations. So, I think she’s got a lot of those skills and, but it’s interesting that her challenges at her level are very similar to some of our challenges at workplace with this. So, it’s kind of interesting perspective to look at it from her point of view and learn from it,
Phillip K. Naithram, Host DC Local Leaders: Just through osmosis, she’s absorbing it. What about your kids? I mean, do you think that you being in the position that you’re in is kind of shaping some possibilities for them that they may not have?
Venkatapathi “PV” Puvvada, CEO: I think what, I hope that what they’re shaped by is the value system and hard work thankfulness, humbleness, and patience. A lot of times things don’t go your way. Right. And that just the commitment and the dedication and the persistence. I think, I hope that’s, that’s what they,
Phillip K. Naithram, Host DC Local Leaders: that’s what they pick
Venkatapathi “PV” Puvvada, CEO: their pickup, I hope
Phillip K. Naithram, Host DC Local Leaders: What do you think about the language we use with ourselves? Like I am statements, how, how effective or what do you think that does for us? I I’ve been there plenty of times and I wasn’t always kind to myself. I’d say I am an insert, you know, I’m too fat. I’m too much of this. I’m not enough of that. I, you know, and I think. There’s a lot of psychology there with synapses that you can actually, we can program ourselves to really start to believe that and think that, and what we think is what we become and I study a lot of this and we can get into a big conversation with that and I love it. But what do you think that that does? And how do you prepare yourself, your team, your kids
Kavita Kalatur, Chairperson: It’s funny you say that because I’m literally like the first time I heard loving kindness, I was like, what kind of hippy thinking is that? Right?
Phillip K. Naithram, Host DC Local Leaders: Do you think that’s cultural?
Kavita Kalatur, Chairperson: I don’t
Phillip K. Naithram, Host DC Local Leaders: Well, your parents were nice to you, so
Kavita Kalatur, Chairperson: I don’t know, but I was hard on myself. Always set the bar high. I always thought I was failing. Like even when I was like, you know, when the top 5% and everything that I did, I still taught. I was like, oh my God, if I don’t get this right, I’m going to fail. I’m going to always live with that kind of expectation. I don’t think it was externally imposed. I think it was predominantly,
Phillip K. Naithram, Host DC Local Leaders: Did you feel shame or was it guilt? I went to Catholic school all my life. definitely. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, that’s
Kavita Kalatur, Chairperson: No, but I think like this whole loving kindness concept, like, I mean, its mind blowing once you get it. And once you understand. Like I never understood and really growing up, you know, you just like, you know, suck it up and, and do better or work harder. Right. But the minute I understood it, what I found it did for me was being kinder and gentler to myself actually made me a better person to, to other people as well, because I was a little bit more understanding, more patient and, and a little bit more mindful about all the factors that go in and not just always push, push, push. And I, I mean, it’s, it’s exactly what I tell my daughter now, because she’s exactly like me. And she’ll like, one thing goes wrong and she’ll think like, you know, it’s the end of the world. Like, you know, loving kindness, be nice to yourself, you know, it’s, keep making progress. But I don’t think perfection is, is attainable, but just that kind of thinking. That whole concept. Loving-kindness like the whole word and self-love and all this stuff. It was like, what are you talking about? Like, I went to an MBSR class it’s mindfulness-based stress reduction. And the first time I got talked about it, I was just rolling my eyes and say, what am I doing here?
And I think it’s taken me a time to read about it, but, you know, thinking, reading about neuro-plasticity conversational intelligence, how word choices make different connections with people. I find that subject extremely fascinating too. And I I’ve been advocating it and I’ve been telling everybody else about it since, you know, it clicked with me.
Phillip K. Naithram, Host DC Local Leaders: Yeah. And I think it’s a natural thing too, for the ego, right? The human ego to say, this is foolish, this is dumb. Like I’ve made it this far without having to worry about this. I’m sure I should just be fine. Meanwhile, we’re not fine. Right. I’m like, I’m being mean to myself and there’s things. We don’t know what we don’t know. And I think, yeah, it’s improved the way that I communicate with other people. It’s allowed me to reach more people and to really actually resonate and build relationships with people where otherwise we would just be talking about news, sports and weather, you know, or something.
Yeah. Or what you know, what about you? What about I am statements? Do you journal or think about those kinds of?
Venkatapathi “PV” Puvvada, CEO: so, it may go back to your background. I left home for boarding school when I was 12 and just became independent from there into my own kind of a self-define kind of world. You always have disappointments, but I never had the sense of I’m not good or, you know, any of that stuff.
Phillip K. Naithram, Host DC Local Leaders: Do you go the other way? Do you like, because you know, there’s, there’s something about mantra is like, I am successful? I am thoughtful. I am loved, I am loving, like to say those things to help us if you need to.
Venkatapathi “PV” Puvvada, CEO: Yeah. I mean, I, I never felt the need for self-motivation, to be honest with you there, there was always a drive and I never thought about, you know, I was, you know, you have goals and you want to do certain things. It was never a big concern internally for me about really, I love myself or, you know, I don’t like what I’m doing sometimes, you know, you do reflect and say, yeah, you know, you’re not good at this stuff and you better get good at it or
Phillip K. Naithram, Host DC Local Leaders: Yeah. The solution is to learn.
Venkatapathi “PV” Puvvada, CEO: yeah. Solution is to learn. So now when we went through that journey, maybe I’m blessed or maybe I’m not, no that’s whatever that is and you know, maybe Being independent and reasonably successful gives maybe just a quiet self-assuredness maybe, maybe some of that.
Phillip K. Naithram, Host DC Local Leaders: Yeah. That you’ve been able to rely on certain things and skillsets. And I think you’ve probably learned along the way. I’ve heard it in our conversation today that you’ve continued to build on skills and shore up the things that, that we don’t know. And, and I think that that’s a big part of entrepreneurship too. Surrounding yourself with the people that shore up your weaknesses that make a unit strong.
You guys are, you’re, you’re two different types of entrepreneurs. It seems like, but to the aspiring entrepreneur, what advice can you give them? Someone who wants to get into an industry like the government contracting industry and support these agencies through their mission and wants to be mission-based and affect other people’s lives.
Kavita Kalatur, Chairperson: Don’t underestimate the work. I, it, it takes true passion. If you’re doing this to just make money, I think you’ll be disappointed because I think there were times that working in McDonald’s would have paid me more for the hours it was putting in with what I was making. Right. But I think it’s really having a true passion for, like you said, you know, what you do and what, the kind of outcomes that, that give you that, that internal intrinsic satisfaction of making a difference. Finding a mission that you truly believe. And for me, that was health and.
You know, it resonated with me and I felt like, you know, I might not be a doctor, but I, at least I’m indirectly enabling the people to do their job better. And for me, that was my calling and that’s where we started. That’s where we grew quite a bit before we branched out to other agencies, I think starting somewhere there and that finding your true passion is, is really where what it gives you that energy to Chairperson: get up another day and keep that grit going to, you know to keep at it. Even when all those things don’t go your way.
Phillip K. Naithram, Host DC Local Leaders: What about you?
Venkatapathi “PV” Puvvada, CEO: Have a clear vision for yourself on what the enterprise that you’re starting to build is about. And having that persistence, and it’s not going to be easy straight line and be prepared for that. But some of the things that you want to watch out as an entrepreneur is not to get false negatives or not to get false positives.
So, when you are successful, as you’re going through the journey successful, you may get really overconfident and say, hey, you’ve been successful in this journey and get false positives. You don’t look at things that you need to do to get better at, on the other hand, you can be down on yourself by getting false negative.
It’s a very tough competitive business. Whichever is in the business that you are in now, our business, certainly there are 20,000 companies competing for the. Same thing pretty much everybody. So don’t have that false negative just because you aren’t successful. Don’t think that everything that you’re doing is not, you know, not right.
So have that compass and I have a reflection and it’s all about learning. You want to learn from your success, learn from your mistakes, learn from your setbacks, learn from those kinds of things. And that’s quite often just people just don’t have that in a sense of you know, what made you successful is not necessarily tile a certain point is not necessarily going to make you successful. The next journey that, that you in there.
Phillip K. Naithram, Host DC Local Leaders: What got you here? Won’t get you
Venkatapathi “PV” Puvvada, CEO: won’t get you there. And, you know, that’s the reason why I kind of said false positives and false negatives. You’ve got to check yourself about.
Kavita Kalatur, Chairperson: I think its a lot like raising a child Right? Running a business. I think the problems that you have when you’re just starting off or like, oh my God, if this kid would just sleep through the night, that would be great. Right. And then it’s that, it’s something else. It’s and it, it just, I think as the business grows the problems don’t, they don’t go away. It’s just, you know, there are, the highs are really high and the lows are really low, but it’s, it’s truly like parenting. It takes a same level of emotional investment and energy into, you know, doing all the right things and really thinking about what’s good for the organization. Sometimes making some tough choices, even if they’re not the popular choices. Right. So, I really felt like, you know, because I think my daughter was so young when I started the company and the company was growing simultaneously. I could start seeing a lot of parallels between the two. And I really do think it’s, it’s, it’s a labor of love.
Phillip K. Naithram, Host DC Local Leaders: How long were you at 10 99?
Kavita Kalatur, Chairperson: I was a subcontractor, right. It already set up net impact strategies. When I started so I, but I was like, I didn’t really have the grand vision. I’m going to go build this company. And I’m being honest. Right. It was like, okay, I want to go do good work. I don’t want to go. And I want to work as many hours as I want to, to get to the goal, without having to worry about, you know, this is what we budgeted for, whatever it was. Right. Like I just wanted to do good work and not worry about what the scope said or, you know, just like sometimes you go into the client and you’re going to implement a system. But you realize the process is broken. So, you really need to do some process. Re-engineering work first because otherwise you’re automating a bad process to make bad things happen faster. Right? So, it’s like those kinds of things that, you know, you’re not like trying to nickel and dime your clients. You’re going in there with the intent to see what’s the outcome that you want. And if that outcome requires, you know, me making photocopies, me running, meeting me, bringing coffee, whatever it takes to really like, get everybody to coalesce and agree and really buy into something. That’s what I want to do. But it didn’t take me very long. Like I think within like four months I already was starting to get additional orders that customers want. I just didn’t have the staff to do it. So, I gave it to other vendors to fulfill those contracts. And in, in 2010 one year into being in businesses when we brought on our first employees.
Phillip K. Naithram, Host DC Local Leaders: What was that process like of adding an employee? Did you have the budget?
Kavita Kalatur, Chairperson: Oh, initially it was not that bad because I was, you know, really getting all my friends to come and work here. I was like, hey, you want to do this will be so much fun. We can talk to each other every day and we can still like, we like a school project. Right. So initially it was fine. You know, the first couple of people I hired, I already knew them for a long time. And you know, we started together and in fact, our first employee still works here.
So, I’m very proud to say that. And she was just phenomenal. Soon Angela is I need more friends. Like I didn’t have enough people I knew. And I was like, oh my God, I need more friends. I just don’t know whom to hire. And that part, I think was a little bit scarier to go out and just, you know, decide that the it’s like an arranged marriage, right? Like go meet this person and like, okay, fine. I think you are the person. I want you to go do this contract, which, and I’m going to give you all the control. I think that part was a little bit scarier initially
I mean, are people who I started with, all of them stepped up in, I mean, my, my success today or where we are today as a company is I wouldn’t give full credit to my mentors who made me believe in myself and told me I could do it even on days that I was like, what are you talking about? I don’t know what you see because I don’t see that.
And so, really the team that we started with. Who, I mean, whatever it took, right? They would tell you the client delivery work, they would write the proposals. They would help with recruiting. It was a team sport and without them, it wouldn’t have been as much fun to, to have done this.
Phillip K. Naithram, Host DC Local Leaders: What’s next for net impact. Now that you’re here,
Venkatapathi “PV” Puvvada, CEO: We have really an exciting journey. What we’re trying to create here is a company that’s in next generation Leader in solving real challenges our customers have, and we call ourselves a next generation digital transformation company. That’s the enterprise that we’re trying to take our company to the next level that comes with yeah, it’s a high expectation. People believe that we can disrupt the market. People believe, make people believe the art of the possible. And at the same time, helping them kind of get there. And that’s a journey that we’re in and it’s an exciting journey. It’s not about revenues.
What is really exciting about is the culture, Kavita earlier describe what that means, but it also means people end getting engaged. And I’m so excited to be here, to see people that are voluntarily taken on doing things on top of their full-time job, which is the true entrepreneurial spirit. They want to learn; they want to contribute and they want to make a difference. That’s what we’re trying to do. It’s an exciting journey.
Kavita Kalatur, Chairperson: And I think and this is, this has been a great conversation. I think it’s travelers both like the personal journeys, as well as the you know, the, career success. And I think to me, that’s the whole individual, and I think that really is what makes you successful because even when you go into a client space, right. It’s, it’s understanding that they’re human too. It’s not like, you know, just, it’s not just it’s. I think it’s human centered. But it’s mission-driven and being able to connect those two through technology is, is great. And having fun through that process by building friendships and relationships. And to me, you know, not growing up here and coming from a different country I finally feel like I have my roots here because now I’m connected to the community in a way that I was never connected for the first 10 years of my life here.
Phillip K. Naithram, Host DC Local Leaders: Mission first people always, well, I really appreciate you guys taking the time to chat with me.
Venkatapathi “PV” Puvvada, CEO: Phillip this has been a very interesting conversation. Thank you. In your very thoughtful
Kavita Kalatur, Chairperson: yeah, I just thought the questions you had were, were really, really interesting, very different from all the other traditional interviews that we’ve done.