After earning his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, Pune-based Associate Principal Vickye Jain didn’t realize he was destined for a career in consulting. All he knew was that he did not want to be a mechanical engineer.
“When I started looking for jobs, I was immediately attracted to ZS because of the emphasis on business,” said Vickye. “I wanted to do something totally different and the analytics, data and operations problems that ZS tackled were interesting to me, so I was excited to learn more.”
During the early years of his career, Vickye was known for the business acumen he brought to projects. While he always had an interest in technology, he was originally known as a data expert. As the years went by, Vickye saw his clients’ needs changing as society grew increasingly reliant on technology. Always eager to learn and take on a new challenge, Vickye shifted his focus and began diving into cutting-edge technology solutions.
At the time, Vickye was working alongside other ZSers on a project at a major pharma client to address the exponentially growing volumes of data the company was struggling with. Convinced there was a better way to process this data, they began researching big data technologies.
“It was a risk because it was our first time working with big data,” said Vickye. “We had to convince the client and ZS leadership that it was worth pursuing this uncharted territory.”
They landed the project and built the first true data lake in the pharma industry. The rest is history. ZS’s big data work scaled quickly over the years and continues to keep pace with rapidly changing technologies, using artificial intelligence and machine learning to make sense of data and derive key insights.
With his well-rounded expertise, innovative contributions and impressive career trajectory, it’s no wonder why Vickye was selected as a 2019 Rising Star of the Profession by Consulting magazine, a list that recognizes the top 35 consultants under 35 years-old.
You started a consulting career at ZS fresh from your undergrad studies — what made ZS a great place to work early on and what’s kept you here all these years?
Originally, my plan was to stay at ZS for two or three years to get some experience before pursuing my MBA. But once I got here, I was involved in such interesting project work and given so much responsibility that I never wanted to leave. Everyone was so open and willing to let me take on as much responsibility as I wanted and that’s really what has kept me here. When I would talk to my friends in the industry, I learned that I was doing things at ZS after three years tenure that people in other firms don’t get to do until working there for ten years. That was a huge motivator for me because I was getting amazing exposure and working with incredibly smart people.
If you could give your 25-year-old self a pep talk, what would you say?
When I was 25, I was already with ZS and working really hard at that time. I approached every project as if I were the owner of the organization delivering that work, and that inspired me to take on more complex responsibilities. With that in mind, I think I would tell myself to accept my failures and don’t be too hard on myself. I’d also tell myself that there’s no shame in asking for help when you need it.
One of my mentors, Principal Sandeep Varma, helped me understand that there’s a difference between intelligence and wisdom — wisdom is the maturity to let your previous experiences guide your judgement when solving problems. A person can be extremely intelligent, but it takes time and persistence to become wise. Sandeep helped me understand that I need to cherish my failures just as much, if not more, than my success because all of my experiences will help me gain wisdom over time.
What advice would you give to ZSers under 35 to help them cultivate a successful career at ZS — and maybe even end up on the Rising Stars list one day?
The most important thing about ZS’s culture is that the team as at the forefront of everything we do — you rise as a team and you sink as a team. We always want the best for our clients, but that shouldn’t come at a cost of what’s best for our teams. The needs of our clients and teams must be equally important for us to be successful.
I would also stress the importance of cultivating a network of people that drive your growth. People who will be 100-percent honest with you and provide candid feedback. People who will challenge your thoughts and spark interesting intellectual conversations. And mentors who help change your thinking and encourage you to push your boundaries. I’ve been lucky to grow my network over the years and I rely on many people for feedback and advice. When I meet with my seniors, I tell them, “I know what I’m doing well, can you help me understand what I’m not doing well?” That has always helped me push toward success and work to become the best version of myself.