Ambiga Dhiraj of Mu Sigma leads from the front


Update: Ambiga Dhiraj has taken over the reins from Dhiraj Rajaram as the the CEO of Mu Sigma.

Ambiga Dhiraj runs operations at Mu Sigma, one of the largest decision sciences companies based in Bangalore. Ambiga is the flag bearer of unique culture, client operations, learning and development at the fast growing organization.

In this honest conversation, Ambiga opens up about being a geeky mother, the origins of Mu Sigma and her values. Watch video below –

Transcript of the conversation below –

Origins & Values

I grew up in a small town called Tirunelveli. I did my engineering from Guindy, Anna University. From there I went to the US for my Masters. I worked at Motorola in their research division for about 10 years, and then the Mu Sigma journey happened.

One thing my father always instilled in me was the value of work hard. He also taught me that anything done with good intentions will lead to good impact. And also never be worried about what the conservative way of thinking says. I always had the freedom to do whatever I wanted.

Being a geeky mother

In my engineering class in Guindy, in a class of 70, thankfully there were about 25 girls. But when I went to the US for my Masters, it was a shocker. In the research group, in an entire floor, there were only two women. I have felt it multiple times when you walk into a room and you are the only woman. It makes you anxious at times, but it also makes the journey interesting because you have a challenge ahead and you have to overcome that.

Being a geek myself, my son often complains that I am not like other mothers who make things for their homes and am always in front of my computer. That is a complaint I have to listen to every now and then. Hopefully, I will teach him programming soon, and he will see some value out of my geekiness.

Meeting Dhiraj Rajaram and genesis of Mu Sigma

We met in engineering college. We were in the same class. Then we went to the US. He had done his MBA and management consulting. I don’t think Dhiraj wanted to become an entrepreneur. He had an idea and he wrote a white paper about it and suggested to his employers to implement it. His company gave him an award for the best white paper presented, but they said that the idea didn’t fit in with their line of business. After thinking about it, he felt that the world needed such an idea to come to life, and decided to do it himself.We were young, only 28 years old. It was not like we always grew up with riches, and if something was not meant to work out we were willing to start from scratch again. In fact, I still believe that.

Joining Mu Sigma

When Dhiraj started Mu Sigma, I did not join him because we had a year-old baby and we didn’t want to keep all our eggs in one basket. So I had a more stable job at that time. But after a few years, Dhiraj had struck a big deal and he and his colleague were talking about it when they suggested that I join them to manage the new client. My first engagement with Mu Sigma was to take care of one of the client engagements out of Chicago.

Today, I pretty much run the operations of the company. I am the Head of Fulfillment. I take care of all the client engagements we have across the globe, and the India delivery center. I work very closely with our talent management teams to ensure we hire the right kind of people and we put them through the right kind of training. I also ensure we adopt the right processes and framework, and the right kind of culture is built into the company.

I also work closely with our Product and Innovation team to ensure the right kind of products are being built for customers, and also any learnings that we have get synthesized into best practices across the organization for problem solving. I kind of play that glue role within the company and I run the delivery itself.

Ambiga and Dhiraj have indeed built an impactful and sustainable business from India.