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Rashmy Chatterjee, CEO of ISTARI, On Listening and Taking Risks

By the time Rashmy Chatterjee entered the professional world, she was used to carving out her own path. She was one of the few women at one of India’s top technical institutes. “It was a shock to see that women made up less than 1% of the population.”

In her first job, Rashmy again was a trailblazer as the first female engineer to join the Indian Navy. And she delivered great results. The President of India commended Rashmy for her work establishing the Indian Naval CAD/CAM center. “Once I understood what I needed to get done and the people who could help me do it, I felt very comfortable.”

I am more empathetic to others because I know what it feels like to be the odd one out, the person who thinks or looks different from the others.

Those early experiences shaped Rashmy’s general outlook. “I am more empathetic to others because I know what it feels like to be the odd one out, the person who thinks or looks different from the others.”

After more than 11 years in the Indian Navy, Rashmy moved on to IBM, where she spent over 22 years in a variety of marketing and sales leadership roles. “I moved around a lot within IBM because I’m very curious and comfortable taking risks. I find it exciting to build out roles the way I want to define them.”

Rashmy has parlayed all her opportunities to define herself in engineering, sales and marketing into a new role – CEO of ISTARI, a global cybersecurity platform dedicated to helping clients build cyber resilience. As the company’s leader, she calls upon one of her superpowers: listening to people’s ideas and disagreeing if necessary but in a way that leaves people feeling heard. “I understand that as CEO, decisions are ultimately mine, but I surround myself with good people and give them lots of room to disagree with me. I make better decisions when I consider different perspectives.”

Rashmy’s other keys to success include:

  • Mitigating risk. By surrounding herself with people who are curious and insightful about what trends indicate, Rashmy confidently pursues new ideas.
  • Keeping an open mind. Rashmy feels she makes the best decisions by taking into consideration many different perspectives.
  • Appreciating small wins. In Rashmy’s experience, it’s not about winning it all or losing it all – even small progress is good.