Kirthiga Reddy- News-Un-Maker

14th Jul, 2017

| by writesolutions

Kirthiga Reddy, the former managing director of Facebook-India is remembered for the wrong reasons.

She was hand-picked to head the country operations of the world’s largest aggregator of personal contacts because of her antecedents, but on February 12, 2016 was unceremoniously recalled to FB headquarters in Menlo Park, California, when she failed to deliver the goods on Free Basis, which was Facebook’s ambitious attempt at penetrating the rural Indian market with the promise of a stripped-down version of free internet?

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) played spoilt sport and struck down Facebook’s bid to introduce Free Basics in India on the ground that it interfered with the principles of net neutrality. Stung, Facebook wrecked its anger on its MD, Kirthiga Reddy and removed her from her post in India and recalled her to the US.

A promising career cut short? Perhaps.

But let’s not get into the politics of her removal.

Instead today, let’s recap Kirthiga Reddy’s glorious rise to the position, and how she made it this far, which can be an inspiration to many others of her ilk.

In the corporate world, our ingrained social conditioning always makes us imagine that high profile careers are “men’s” fiefdoms, resulting in skewed gender ratios. This did not however apply to Kirthiga Reddy.

Born to middle-class parents in Nagpur, Kirthiga grew up with strong values of hard work. She spent her formative years in Dandeli and Nanded because of her father’s transferable government job that required the family to frequently shift stations, every four years. As a consequence, she spent her formative years in Mumbai, Chennai, and smaller, mofussil towns such as Dandeli and Nanded.

“My parents believed that if there was a school in the neighborhood, that’s where I would go. That made me learn to make the most of any situation,” she said in her talks with media persons – not realizing that this is a skill that would come to her rescue several years later.

She completed her Computer Engineering from MGM College of Engineering, Nanded, and moved back to Nagpur to enroll at Kanetkar tutorials. At Kanetkar, instructors would help engineering students’ master C skills. Soon after, Kirthiga moved to the US to pursue higher studies. She was incidentally the first in her family to get a technical and business degree in the United States.

After she finished her Master’s in Business Administration from Stanford University, followed by an MS in Computer Engineering from Syracuse University, Kirthiga started working with Phoenix Technologies.

When Facebook opened its India office in 2010, Kirthiga Reddy had to start from scratch. Over the course of three years, Facebook has witnessed rapid growth in user base in India, and managed to maintain impressive brand and business engagement with its Indian audience. However this was also a time when Facebook did not run a formal office in India. Nor did the social media giant know how to conduct business relations with the Indian audience. Kirthiga, owing to her Indian origin was meant to plug this vital gap.

Several key projects were biting dust at the time when Reddy assumed the India challenge.  Starting as the first employee for Facebook in India, she also had the privilege to be part of its amazing growth journey, from a bootstrap operation in Hyderabad to leading a full team in less than a year, while transacting daily business with a steadily growing Indian clientele.

Reddy had earlier served a few blue-chip companies such as Silicon Graphics and Motorola – but none as big or vast as Facebook. At Silicon Graphics, she was the youngest director of engineering and the only woman put in this role in her team.

In her first job in the US, at Silicon Graphics, then a $2-billion company, she surprised her manager when instead of restricting herself to her pre-defined role, she declared she would be ready to do “whatever was required by the company”. At a software project which she was involved with, she went beyond her narrowly-defined profile to play a larger role, starting from defining the product features and its interface to its final rollout in the market.

Even today, instead of feeling dejected with her recall, she is happy to relocate to the USA. In her tweets, she has maintained that it brings her more opportunities as a CEO and gives her greater freedom and personal choice in her work.

Like other women professionals, Kirthiga manages to juggle professional with personal life with remarkable ease. Mother of two daughters, at the time of the birth of her second daughter, Ariya, Kritika started worrying whether she would be able to do justice to both her roles, and to everyone’s and her own surprise, she could.

Since travel was a necessary part of her job, for the must-travel times, her baby travelled with her, and she managed to find local day care wherever she went. To quote her “When you decide something is important, it is amazing how nature conspires to make things happen for you. The message here is to create your own choices. To not accept the tyranny of the ‘or’ but embrace the power of the ‘and’.”

At the peak of her career, Kirthiga won the title of Fortune India’s Top 50 Most Powerful Women.  Her name also got listed among India’s 25 Most Influential Women.

Like all happily married women, she gives full credit to her supportive husband, Dev. After all, if there is a woman behind every successful man; there is also a man behind every successful woman


Radhika Sachdev

Content Strategist

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1 year 7 months ago

Very nice blog