July 10, 2022
By Sara Connell
Be Willing to Take Risks: The best way to grow is to step out of your comfort zone. Keep an open mind and try new things. It’s ok to fail. Failing by itself isn’t bad, because it’s never really a failure if you learn from it!
As a part of our interview series called “Women Of The C-Suite”, we had the pleasure of interviewing Nausheen Moulana Chief Technology Officer of Glytec.
Nausheen Moulana serves as Glytec’s Chief Technology Officer. With over 25 years of engineering and operations experience, she possesses a deep understanding of developing complex software products and driving process improvement to maximize customer value. She is a highly accomplished technologist with experience in the healthcare, enterprise technology and scientific computing sectors. Nausheen is known for her mentorship approach to leadership and advocacy for diversity, equity and inclusion.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
Myparents instilled me with a deep love of learning and a drive for improving the human condition. I grew up in the state of Andhra Pradesh in India. My father was an engineer who led several public works projects. My mother worked with Government & International agencies and non-government organizations (NGOs) focused on empowering and improving the lives of underprivileged and destitute women and children throughout the state, especially in the rural and tribal areas.
In ninth grade, I learned about atomic theory and was absolutely fascinated by the several ways to harness the electron. This spark helped me realize that I wanted to pursue an education in science and technology to help solve problems relevant to our times and future generations. I earned a degree in Electronics & Communications Engineering in India. After receiving an MS in Electrical Engineering in the US, I landed a job at MathWorks, the leader in scientific computing software for engineers and scientists.
I continued to work in high tech for over a decade in various technical and leadership roles but in the back of my mind, I knew that I wanted to develop products with more direct impact in areas I care about. While working full time, I earned an MBA as I wanted to learn about business and entrepreneurship to broaden my perspective and skills. These factors led me to transition my career to a different industry.
While I didn’t know much about the healthcare industry at the time, I was a very frustrated consumer. I knew that healthcare could benefit from technology, and I was confident that my skill set could help improve healthcare through better patient outcomes and experiences.
I saw an opportunity for streamlining the healthcare system through technology, which led me to my last role at Kyruus. As the VP of Software Engineering, I led multiple teams in the development of hosted enterprise SaaS patient access management & scheduling applications.
After a little over four years at Kyruus, I joined Glytec as the Chief Technology Officer. Here, I’m responsible for Glytec’s product and technology vision, strategy, and execution. I lead the teams responsible for creating the innovations that continue to strengthen Glytec’s position as the industry leader in glycemic management and patient safety.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
During the Product Feedback session at Time to Target, Glytec’s inaugural customer conference in October 2021, I heard the innovative ways in which our customers were using Glytec’s eGlycemic Management System® (eGMS) during the pandemic. It was interesting to learn how technological advances in diabetes management, such as Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM), are being adopted for inpatient use. We heard from clinicians and nurses that pairing CGM with Glucommander™ as the insulin infusion system works well in an inpatient setting, providing good patient outcomes while improving nurse workflow.
We are investing in integrating CGM with eGMS® and it was great to hear directly from users that we are working on solutions that are relevant and impactful. I’m involved with the Integration of Continuous Glucose Monitor Data into the Electronic Health Record (EHR) (iCoDE) project, organized by Diabetes Technology Society. The two working groups of this project that I participate in have been very interesting as we are collaborating to recommend data standards and best practices for integration and interoperability of CGM with EHR. It’s very exciting to be at the forefront of the promising CGM technology that can be used in the hospital setting. When CGM is approved for inpatient use, Glytec’s eGMS will be ready to support it.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The funniest mistake I made when I was first starting as an engineer is forgetting to remove an embedded “Original Hamster Dance” web page I was using for testing my code. I was leading the technical effort to create the Student Version of MATLAB®. To distinguish the student variant of the product from the full commercial version, I had to generate a distinguishing watermark in the footer of content printed via the student product. This was also required to deter software piracy. This simple task turned out to be more challenging than I anticipated as there were several print drivers to support, and the code was not modular so testing the code changes was tedious.
In any event, I was embarrassed that this inadvertent code change made it into the pre-release version of our software. However, the project team thought including the video was funny and a perfect easter-egg in the software as a user would have to “stumble” into the right sequence of steps to watch the Hamster Dance, it would be totally unexpected! I learned several lessons through this experience — developing testable and modular code, ensuring easy things are not hard, the importance of protecting intellectual property, and finding opportunities to delight your users.
I’m an author and I believe that books have the power to change lives. Do you have a book in your life that impacted you and inspired you to be an effective leader? Can you share a story?
A book that has inspired me is “Mountains Beyond Mountains” by Tracy Kidder, a book about Dr. Paul Farmer, a practitioner of “social medicine” and his impact on bringing high-quality healthcare to the world’s poorest communities. Dr. Farmer’s tireless dedication to his mission, ability to solve complex challenges in delivering life-saving care and advocacy for treating health as a human right have inspired me. Dr. Farmer’s philosophy that “the only real nation is humanity” has influenced me as a leader to develop empathy, connect with people at an interpersonal level and forge relationships to accomplish shared goals.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I’m grateful foremost to my mom who set an example for me as a working woman in India when most women in her generation did not pursue careers. She always encouraged me to have a strong work ethic, to focus on doing my best and always be willing to help others.
I’m fortunate that I had Helen Paret and Loren Shure as my managers successively as I started my career at MathWorks. They were the first people to tell me how important it was for me to not only be technically competent but also be visible and to have my voice heard. I didn’t entirely grasp the significance of their feedback at the time but I started to recognize it as invaluable advice as I progressed in my career. I believe everyone should own their career growth, however as a woman, you have to become comfortable advocating for yourself and sharing your thoughts and opinions.
As you know, the United States is facing a very important self-reckoning about race, diversity, equality and inclusion. This may be obvious to you, but it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you articulate to our readers a few reasons why it is so important for a business or organization to have a diverse executive team?
There’s been lip-service around diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) for a long time now. Sustainable DEI efforts need to start with the executive team with associated measurable corporate goals.
Representation is important. When employees see leaders that they can relate to, they expect an environment of inclusion which improves engagement and productivity.
Having a diverse executive team means that important company decisions will leverage the unique perspectives and experiences of the team and won’t be a result of groupthink or come from a singular point of view. Diversity of thought and lived experience are among key factors that can make an organization stronger and resilient.
As a business leader, can you please share a few steps we must take to truly create an inclusive, representative, and equitable society? Kindly share a story or example for each.
Building an inclusive society and workforce is a cross-functional effort, and there are no silver bullets. From my perspective, women, male allies, and employers need to work together on viable approaches to recruit, develop, and retain women.
I’m a firm believer that this push needs to start early. We need to break down gender stereotypes at the developmental stage and show that science, math and engineering are interesting and accessible for everyone. As a society, we need to showcase women role models in science and technology and present them as “cool” alongside those in sports, music, entertainment, and fashion.
From a work perspective, we need recruiters and talent acquisition teams to cast a wider net to reach qualified women. Employers also need to create mentorship, networking, sponsor, and training opportunities for people from all backgrounds. Once we hire these amazing people, especially for women, we need managers to acknowledge the need for flexibility in work schedules. Women and single-parent homes face unique challenges like balancing childcare, eldercare, and their career, so flexibility is critical.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. Most of our readers — in fact, most people — think they have a pretty good idea of what a CEO or executive does. But in just a few words can you explain what an executive does that is different from the responsibilities of the other leaders?
Great question. The biggest thing is that the buck stops here, with me, as an executive. If people on my team cannot solve a problem or agree on a decision, I have to make the final call, and take ownership for it. Also, as the executive, I’m accountable for the results or lack thereof of the teams’ deliverables. Being an executive includes taking ownership for the strategy, execution, as well as the overall engagement of your organization.
One of my favorite books is “An Elegant Puzzle” by Will Larson. A key management principle in the book that resonates with me is that you not only have to think of the success of your team, but the success of the company as a whole and how you fit in it. As you move higher up you need to focus on issues like being a good partner for customers, product innovation and market engagement, shareholder value, team morale, company’s corporate social responsibility, etc. You become more of a partner to the rest of the company and have to keep that in mind. It’s not just about your individual team anymore, but how that team fits in with the bigger picture.
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a CEO or executive. Can you explain what you mean?
As an executive, people assume you have all the answers, but that’s not always true! You often have to make decisions with partial or incomplete information.
I find being an executive can be isolating. You don’t always have the full information. People don’t engage with you because they don’t want to be a burden or take up too much of your time. Yet, getting that information and engagement helps me (and my team) make informed decisions.
As an executive, it’s hard to get unvarnished feedback. You can pretty quickly get out-of-sync with the reality of your organization if you don’t have mechanisms to understand the issues and challenges from your teams. To build a workplace of excellence and achieve business results, you have to earn the trust of your team and work hard to create an environment where transparency and information exchange happens without fear of retribution.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women executives that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?
I think women put a lot of expectations on ourselves and we don’t give ourselves enough credit. Women tend to take on a lot in a family, whether it’s childcare or eldercare and our careers usually take a backseat because of that. We also don’t advocate for ourselves, whether it’s investing in self-care or taking on an interesting or challenging project. While many people experience this, women particularly are plagued by the Imposter Syndrome, doubting their abilities and possessing an ever-growing checklist of things they need to accomplish to feel confident taking the next step in their careers. Something I see often is when women apply for jobs, they think they need to check off every single job description bullet, when men will only have half the job description and apply anyway.
My hope is that we are kinder to ourselves and mindfully cultivate the ability to nip in the bud self-limiting beliefs about our capabilities and accomplishments. We also need to be more active in our career development. An example of this is networking. I didn’t network for the first ten years of my career. Over time, I realized it’s not just about what you know but who you know. Eighty percent of people’s career opportunities come through your network and women are underserved by not knowing how to network or not having the time for it. The same goes for negotiating. Women tend to be poor negotiators; this has an impact during salary negotiations. This also goes back to self-confidence and believing you are capable and deserve to be paid a fair wage commensurate with your experience and results.
What is the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?
I joined Glytec to partner with the executive team to help us grow and scale as an enterprise SaaS product company leveraging the deep clinical knowledge and expertise we have. The process of transformation is challenging as change is hard, even when everyone understands that we need to do things differently. Change management is a very critical skill to be effective as an executive. I find that you need to be mindful and patient in how you motivate and lead change not only in your area but across the organization. And it takes time, generally longer than you expect to align, and execute on the growth strategy.
Is everyone cut out to be an executive? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful executive and what type of person should avoid aspiring to be an executive? Can you explain what you mean?
In my experience, being a rockstar individual contributor doesn’t necessarily translate to being a competent manager. A few key things to consider to be an executive is how you deal with ambiguity, decision making, stakeholder engagement, change management, strategy development, and working collaboratively with people to achieve results.
You need to understand if you are a person that gets satisfaction from solving business problems, creating customer value and working with people to make it happen (manager). Or are you someone who likes to be given goals and have autonomy to solve difficult problems on your own (individual contributor).
Do what motivates you, and aligns with your personality traits, interests, and skill set. Also, there’s no substitute for real experience, so if you have the opportunity to “try out” management before committing to it as a career path, go for it.
What advice would you give to other leaders to help their team to thrive?
It’s easier said than done, but your success depends on the success of your team. You need to create a culture and work environment of psychological safety that is supportive and will help your team to engage more fully. I would also recommend that you enable your teams to operate autonomously and provide the right level of support to overcome challenges they cannot address at the team level. Finding the right balance between advocacy for your teams and accountability is critical to help teams thrive. Encouraging use of frameworks such as Objectives & Key Results (OKRs) or Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that tie back to corporate goals will bring clarity to prioritization and impact of their deliverables.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
The five things I wish I knew when I started are own your journey, make yourself visible, take risks, meet as many people as you can, and understand the value of financial literacy.
- Own your career: If you don’t have your own board of personal advisors, get one. Building relationships within and outside the companies I worked for helped me have mentors and advisors that provided technical, management and professional guidance. Make a commitment to own your skills development, develop a support system and treat growing your career as a critical investment in yourself.
- Make Yourself Visible: The reality is that if you don’t speak up for yourself, no one else will. It can be hard for women in the workplace to do this, but you won’t be able to get what you want unless you advocate for what you need. This also applies to working mothers. There are so many people willing to help but if you don’t speak up and advocate for the resources you need to succeed, you could face burnout.
- Be Willing to Take Risks: The best way to grow is to step out of your comfort zone. Keep an open mind and try new things. It’s ok to fail. Failing by itself isn’t bad, because it’s never really a failure if you learn from it!
- Network: As I mentioned, I didn’t network in the first ten years of my career. I didn’t see the value in it, nor did I know how to do it. A massive portion of people’s job opportunities come from their network. Utilize the connections and people you know to drive your career in the direction you want it to go. There are so many insights you can gain from other people too, along the way.
- Financial literacy: Learning to manage my finances has given me more optionality. The best advice I ever received was from a HR manager earlier in my career advising me to contribute to my 401(k) especially given the employer match. That one decision I made helped me save for retirement without having to worry later in life. Developing financial literacy gave me options, like going back to get my MBA and later switching jobs and industry. Options are freedom — especially for women. Having a strong financial basis gives you the ability to do so many more things with your career and life.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
We need to fix healthcare in the U.S. — it’s just broken. As an industry, healthcare is twenty percent of the GDP and we still have significant gaps in caring for large segments of the population. There is so much work we have to do to get good outcomes for patients across areas like price transparency, quality and access to care.
We need to address the data silos and lack of seamless interoperability across systems involved in the continuum of patient experience. We need a 360-degree view of patient data. In the hospital there is only EMR or EHR data. Patients have access to their own personal health data they track through evolving wearable technologies. For example, my Apple watch can provide so much information about my health, but my PCP and care team don’t have access to it. Only episodic patient health information is captured in the hospital systems. There is no data consolidation. I think there’s so much opportunity to improve patient outcomes utilizing health data in a more holistic manner.
With the lessons learned from the performance of the US health system during the pandemic, I hope going forward we can start to systematically improve it, and also focus on addressing the growing challenges related with emotional and mental health.
We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them
This is tough. I think time with Sunita Williams would truly be an out of the world experience! She has set several records as an astronaut, pushed the boundaries of what is possible, and is an inspiration for women aspiring to have an impact through science and technology.
From a leadership perspective, I’m a huge fan of Brené Brown and her podcast “Dare to Lead” and would love the opportunity to have a private conversation with her. In popular culture, leadership is almost always associated with being in control, powerful, infallible, and strong. Brené has shown that effective leaders are authentic and leverage vulnerability as a strength.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.
This article originally appeared in Authority Magazine.