A quiet and shy young girl who grew up to lead a team of 100+ engineers in Digital Cockpit Electronics, spread across Visteon India, where she has thrived for the last 23 years, this is Jayasree Sivasubramanian’s story…
I am the first female engineer in my family. My parents were first-generation city-dwellers, in Chennai, a city in south India. I graduated in Electronics and Communications Engineering, inspired by my father who was a civil draftsman for the southern Indian railways. Whenever he was drawing a new draft he would include me in the process – explaining each fascinating detail. After graduation, true to the grit and determination inherited from my mother, I was determined to continue with my core engineering training and passion – product development, versus application/IT which was booming in 1990’s in India, with multiple job offers for me and my graduating classmates.
My career began in the Instrumentation & Industrial Automation domain where I learned the basics of embedded concepts, which earned me a foot in the door to the automotive industry, at Visteon, where I have been for the last 23 years. I have experienced the joy and pride of working on multiple product lines and growing with the company. I now lead a team of 100+ people across India.
Beginning with clusters, displays, telematics, and now expert in digital cockpit electronics, I have worked on mid-segment, low-segment, and luxe-segment cars across the world. In my opinion, Visteon has always been an equal opportunity employer. All that matters for a new project or promotion is the skillset and potential of every employee. With that said, I started as a software design engineer and evolved into taking on leadership roles on both the platform and delivery side, while raising two smart and determined daughters along the way with my husband.
Here are my lessons learned thus far in my career. One of the most memorable teaching moments in my life occurred about 20 years ago. I was sent to the United Kingdom for an onsite project for a German-based OEM customer as a young engineer and the airline lost my baggage. My heady excitement blended with fear of visiting a foreign country for the first time, being trusted with an important client at such a young age, and wanting desperately to make an excellent first impression, but then losing my luggage which contained all my clothes and toiletries I had brought with me for said project, was a sequence of emotions and the lessons they taught me that I will never forget.
The lesson is to always be prepared with a backup plan – wherever I’m going and whatever I’m doing.
As an adventure-sport junkie, I once went whitewater rafting at River Teesta, at Darjeeling, and after I saw the images from the trip, I learned the importance of calculating risk – evaluating risk vs. reward which I now incorporate into my professional and person life during the decision-making process.
Last year, I managed several new programs and mobility client demands for Cluster and Display technologies deliveries for our Asia-Pacific programs, by identifying external talent and grooming internal talent for leadership roles. I successfully expanded the team across sites by 50%, working closely with our Talent Acquisition team.
This year, I am focusing on building the capability and improving the efficiency of my team’s deliveries by creating development plans, assigning mentors, operating feature group scrums and rolling out knowledge-sharing sessions to strengthen features and OEM knowledge. I also coach my team on the importance of process and quality compliance and the impact and value of product delivery to our customers.
The most energizing part of working at Visteon is the exposure to diverse OEMs, multiple geographical regions, cultures, and leaders that Visteon possess as a team, along with managing the expectations of different global clients. I constantly feel supported by my team, and the company – even when I need flexibility in my personal life.
As an elected participant in Visteon’s Momentum program for emerging women leaders, I am currently on an incredible journey that is helping me to examine and hone my key leadership skills coupled with maintaining a growth-mindset.
I am demolishing self-constructed barriers and connecting with other women leaders at Visteon across the globe, learning from their knowledge and experiences through capstone projects.
If I could give advice to young people entering the workplace today, it is to stay curious and keep learning. In your work, learn to be proud of both tangible and intangible results; don’t be afraid of failure.