Needing some inspiration? At Let’s Talk Supply Chain, we know the value of elevating the voices of the female trailblazers who are fearlessly changing the face of our industry. Every month, we feature a supply chain woman leader on our blog, sharing their stories, achievements, and advice for women coming up the ranks in supply chain.
This month, we’re proud to feature Vidya Netrakanti in our Women in Supply Chain blog series. Vidya is the chief operating officer, founder, and an early investor at Optessa Inc. The software organization provides edge technologies for production planning and scheduling—delivering complete solutions for execution in manufacturing.
Vidya has overseen Optessa’s finance, administration, and human resources since the organization’s inception. She has a master’s degree from the University of Edinburgh and a Ph.D. from the University of Poona.
What brought you into supply chain?
I was drawn in by the opportunity to contribute at Optessa in a long-term meaningful way—to constantly grow, adapt, and learn. I am not a sequencing or scheduling expert, I don’t work on developing Optessa’s technology.
However, I knew the organization was facing unique operational challenges—from navigating difficulties in development to meeting organizational needs working with the business founders.
We constantly evolve and tackle challenges in a variety of areas, and it makes the process interesting—there are always new opportunities to grow and learn.
Take us through your career journey:
Optessa is very much a realization of our founder’s (my husband’s) vision of providing quality planning and scheduling solutions that meet industry needs. Srinivas (Vasu) Netrakanti shared his view of the challenge and opportunity with Optessa’s current CEO, Dr. Ashok Erramilli. Ashok, Srinivas, and I formed the company together—the journey started there. We called the company Netaps at first, then the name changed to Optessa in 2006.
Srinivas led the company as the chief executive officer until August 2017, Ashok was the CTO, and I oversaw finance, HR, and administration.
We built teams in Edmonton, New Jersey, and in India. We survived the deep recession of 2008, and then in 2013, Optessa was growing and thriving again.
Sadly, we lost Srinivas (Vasu) to Kidney Cancer that summer in 2017. The Optessa team and founders, Ashok and I, renewed our commitment to realizing Vasu’s vision for Optessa at that very difficult moment in time. We reorganized ourselves to meet the new challenges and have continued forward on a path of growth
What challenges have you overcome and what did you learn from them?
As a founder of a small business, you are constantly balancing so many obligations—to customers, employees, investors—often on limited time and resources. I have learned you have to continually strive for excellence. At Optessa, the quality of our software solutions has empowered us to establish our brand and build resilient, lasting business relationships.
I’ve learned to do my homework so I can advocate on Optessa’s behalf—to be professional and also, persistent. Learning how to adapt in a crisis has been a challenge I’ve faced with my team on more than one occasion.
Small businesses sometimes feel the impact more aggressively in volatile markets and environments. I’ve learned you have to be dynamic, constantly advancing your business environment—it’s all about remaining nimble, poised, and ready to quickly respond to emerging challenges—whether the 2008 recession or the current COVID-19 healthcare pandemic.
As an organization, Optessa’s team finds the challenge of solving planning, sequencing, and scheduling issues for manufacturing intellectually invigorating. We aim to maintain a friendly, open work culture based on teamwork and mutual respect.
What advice do you have for other leaders and up-and-comers in supply chain?
Invest in people. Be resilient, it takes optimism and staying nimble to adapt. And, never stop your pursuit of excellence.
What do you want newcomers to supply chain to know?
Have confidence in your abilities, but don’t hesitate to ask for help. Know that preparation and hard work are always important—do your homework.
Outside of the office, take care of your personal financial management. And, if you are just starting out, keep business and personal finances separate. Remember to take personal time out to pursue other passions outside of work.
What has made you so successful in supply chain and life?
I am always ready for what’s next—ready to learn and adapt.
What is next for you?
Making sure Optessa comes out of this pandemic strong—not just surviving—thriving.
Meet Our Sponsor
This Women in Supply Chain feature was made possible by our sponsor, Optessa. Optessa’s Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS) software creates complete, optimal, even quality solutions. Their software can model any manufacturing requirement and can be deployed quickly. Their intelligent planning and scheduling solutions are key enablers of your digitalization strategy. Optessa is proud to partner with Let’s Talk Supply Chain and sponsor the Women in Supply Chain blog series.
About The Author
Naomi Garnice is the Director of Marketing for MicroAge where she leads the marketing team and creative strategy. Naomi has been a content marketer for 14 years and is passionate about creating engaging content that matters. Throughout her career in marketing for technology, healthcare and supply chain organizations, Naomi has advocated to highlight female thought leaders in male-dominated industries.