Raman Bukkapatnam, the Vice President of Global Technology Starbucks, is in charge of engineering and quality assurance for back-office applications where he leads the development of mobile/computer applications and many other behind the scenes control. His position at Starbucks is mainly based on the supply chain, finance and the development of stores.
Mr. Bukkapatnam was initially with Tata consultancy services where he learned supply chain management and gained first-hand experience in the retail field, which laid the foundation for his position at Starbucks.
As always, it was not an easy task to get to the position he is currently in today. His journey involved many tough decisions that allowed him to elevate himself and his company. One such decision was learning the right technical knowledge, but the harder part was convincing others and ensuring they trust and collaborate with one another in order to get the job done.
Mr. Bukkapatnam believes gaining trust from others is the most crucial part of a job and that the only way to achieve it is by constantly thinking “what can I do for others”, even if that person is not in the position to give anything back. Living by this motto, Mr. Bukkapatnam was able to advance from a simple developer to a manager. From there, it was only a matter of time until his skills landed him his position as a director and then a Vice President, in under 15 years.
At the entry-level, it is all about individual performance and contributions; however, as one grows, it becomes more orientated around how people perceive you and how you look at yourself. In order to elevate your position, one must focus on how they influence others since everyone already has the knowledge in a particular field. This makes communication skills the differentiating factor between employees.
As a teenager, Mr. Bukkapatnam was not orientated around his individual achievements, but instead being an influencer/leader. His main influences, apart from his family, were his teachers. There was one teacher in particular who always taught to benchmark against the highest grade possible rather than other performing students. Mr. Bukkapatnam also made sure to always surrounded himself with intelligent others in order to better himself.
Along with trust, one must possess the curiosity and innovative capability to rise among corporate levels. When asked about the importance of degrees vs experience, Mr. Bukkapatnam believes that they are both valuable. A degree allows one to have a solid foundation on the subject while adhering to the social norm; however, experience has increased importance which can be attained by listening and learning from others. Mr. Bukkapatnam compares it to a driver’s license, where a degree may be proof of knowledge whereas experience is mandatory in order to excel in the field.
Starbucks recruits people based on three main criteria: achieving results (outputs), following the mission values, and helping others. These three aspects are important for becoming a leader in any field.
Mr. Bukkapatnam believes the next generation’s young entrepreneurs should pursue their passions by finding a real-world problem in today’s society and seeing how one can create/improve upon a solution in order to elevate themselves and their own future.