Rohini Suri: tech and people skills at JPMorgan Chase
With a brain for IT and a heart for people, this technical leader serves as an example for other diverse pros in a male-dominated field
Rohini Suri grew up in Punjab, India. Her father was a naval architect, and her parents expected their children to become doctors or lawyers. But she never considered law and soon found that her heart wasn’t in the medical field.
Today, Suri is vice president and sourcing group manager of information technology project services at global financial services firm JPMorgan Chase & Co (New York, NY).
She’s responsible for application development, production support and quality assurance for the company’s global lines of business, including corporate investment banking, asset management and corporate services. She also works with innovative technologies, risk and reporting.
“I partner with lines of businesses within JPMorgan Chase to secure temporary resources in support of technology-based projects,” she explains. “I’ve supported technology for the last eighteen years. Before that, I sold IT services, and I understand the process and methodology of executing IT projects of all kinds and the differences among them. I’ve been the head of IT recruiting and interviewed hundreds of people on their IT skills.”
When she reviews vendor proposals, she must make educated comparisons and selections, which often are not based only on price. “For example, I support the digital Internet group. We had an RFP for a new digital platform in Agile. I know how Agile projects are executed, what the latest technologies in the digital and mobile space are, and which ones are best suited to our needs. I have to keep abreast of trends and new players in a rapidly changing environment.”
Suri is part of the strategic sourcing group, which has locations in North America, Europe and Asia. A team of eleven people supports its IT services. Suri has seven members reporting to her.
“I have one-on-one meetings with my staff to discuss projects and their challenges. We discuss their career aspirations, and I provide feedback as needed,” she says. “I also hold regular team meetings where everyone shares updates. Those give me an opportunity to bring out each team member’s individual strengths.”
Business with a psychology base
Growing up in India, Suri was interested in people and organizational behavior. “Psychology fits in well with my personality,” she says. “It’s what I focus on in my everyday work life.”
She received her undergraduate degree in psychology and English in 1980 at GND University in India. “This was my way of adapting to everyone’s expectations of me,” explains Suri. “I enrolled in college for a degree in science and transferred to psychology. Now I’m back in information technology, closer to the sciences, but with a degree that lets me do what I do best: work with people.”
Suri sees information technology as an exciting, growing area, especially outsourcing. “With my background, degrees and work experience, it was a relatively easy entry. I moved from sales to resourcing to the buying side. I’ve found the basic principles that govern any role, and those that bring success, are much the same – passion, commitment, openness to learning and giving it your best.”
Suri has certifications in IT languages including COBOL and early “C” from NIIT Technologies in Gurgaon, India. She also earned her MBA with a specialization in corporate strategy and finance from the Olin School of Business, Washington University (St. Louis, MO) in 1995.
After getting her MBA, she joined an IT services organization, starting in sales and later heading the resource/recruitment function. Suri soon realized her forte was more with strategy, and the opportunity to work for an industry leader like JPMorgan Chase was better suited to her personality.
Using her story to inspire others
“My identity is shaped by many attributes and experiences,” she says. “I am an immigrant, a woman of color, and an out lesbian in a male-dominated field. I have tried to use my experiences to inspire and encourage young professionals. As my generation has benefited greatly by the early feminists who fought for women’s liberation and equality, we too can be an example to LGBT and minority youth. I am lucky I work for a company that embraces all diversity.”
She is active in JPMorgan Chase’s newly launched Women in Sourcing Empowerment group (WISE). She was on the board of the New York chapter of JPMorgan Chase Pride, spearheading a series of events concentrating on authenticity in the workplace. “Each event focused on a specific area of personal difference,” says Suri, “the intersections in minority spaces and the opportunities and challenges they bring.”
Suri is a past vice president of the New Jersey Lesbian and Gay Coalition (NJLGC) and a former board member of SALGA (South Asian Lesbian and Gay Association).
“While I continue to work on my professional development and enhancement of my role, the next steps in my career are really more about creating avenues for sharing experiences to help career advancement and growth opportunities for women of color and LGBT minorities, specifically in traditionally male-dominated fields,” affirms Suri. “I hope to accomplish this through direct mentoring and organizing events.”
Suri says that her grandmother was her greatest inspiration. “My grandmother came from a small village and was always dependent on others, first her parents and then her husband, and yet she displayed an independence that was hard to ignore. I admire her because her example demonstrates there’s nothing impossible, and in order to succeed we have to dream, dare, believe and do.”
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