Embracing Failure, Pursuing Passion: The Path of Reena Jain

Reena Jain
Reena Jain

Across a desiccated plain, the skeletal remains of wells stand as silent examples of a bygone era of abundance. These once life-giving structures now stand dormant, stark reminders of the region’s faded prosperity. Here, facilitating a remarkable revival of these dormant wells—Reena Jain worked tirelessly armed with her expertise as an oilfield engineer at Schlumberger. Her technical prowess in executing well-stimulating jobs breathed life into over a hundred abandoned wells, rekindling hope and productivity.

Transitioning to Universal Aquatech, Reena’s journey took a diverse turn. Heading its operations unit, she charted strategies that navigated the complexities of aquaculture. From nurturing business development strategies to overseeing operational excellence, Reena’s tenure was marked by versatility and innovation.

But it was her pivot to the tech realm that truly showcased her adaptability and drive. A product management internship served as a springboard, propelling her to the role of VP of Products at Cedarwood Eduventures. Here, she spearheaded the launch of two mobile applications and a website, showcasing expertise across all product phases.

Now, as a Consultant at McKinsey & Company, Reena leverages her multifaceted background to offer unparalleled insights and solutions. With skills spanning SQL, full-stack development, HTML, and CSS, she’s a force to be reckoned within the tech consulting sphere.

The Curious Mindset

Reena is a Chemical Engineering graduate from BITS Pilani, India who initially had limited exposure to technology. However, her passion for technology and relentless drive to learn prompted her transition from operations to a technology-focused role. She shares, “Approaching each project with an open and curious mindset, I thrive on the opportunity to immerse myself in diverse industries.”

With five years of experience in operations, Reena’s mindset centers around growth and continuous learning, seamlessly translating into her current role as a Consultant at McKinsey & Company. Collaborating with clients across various sectors broadens her understanding of different industries and fuels her passion for problem-solving.

Reflecting on her journey weekly, Reena finds satisfaction in witnessing her learning curve steepen. This pursuit of knowledge drives her professionally and aligns with her personal values of growth, curiosity and resilience. She emphasizes, “My approach to leadership in the technology domain is grounded in a commitment to continuous improvement and a steadfast dedication to making a meaningful impact.”

Tech, Trials and Transformation

Reena’s journey has been akin to a thrilling rollercoaster ride. In her tenure at Schlumberger, she spearheaded teams managing multi-million-dollar oil extraction projects, honing her knack for decisive action under immense pressure. She adeptly tackled the challenges of gender bias in the predominantly male-dominated oilfields, relying on her interpersonal skills to drive operational excellence. “My time at Schlumberger taught me invaluable lessons in leadership and resilience,” reflects Reena.

Transitioning to Universal Aquatech, her family’s aquaculture business presented an exhilarating opportunity to pioneer new products. However, challenges arose during one product launch due to unforeseen environmental factors resulting in financial setbacks. Yet, Reena embraced the lessons from failure, recognizing it as a crucial stepping stone. “I learned that failures are the pillars of success,” she shares, highlighting the importance of resilience and adaptability.

Driven by her passion for technology and a desire to embrace failure as a means of growth, Reena found her calling in Product Management. Despite industry norms dictating the necessity of coding experience or formal software engineering education, she remained undeterred. “I was determined to prove that passion and dedication can outshine formal qualifications,” Reena asserts.

Her journey towards becoming a Product Manager was marked by relentless pursuit. From undertaking product management courses to securing internships—both unpaid and paid, Reena exhibited firm determination. This dedication eventually led her to secure a full-time role as a Product Manager. Subsequently, she ascended to the position of V.P. of Products at Cedarwood Eduventures—a burgeoning ed-tech startup.

At Cedarwood Eduventures, regardless of the challenges posed by the pandemic, Reena led a digital transformation of their brick-and-mortar establishments. Her strategic initiatives and innovative solutions ensured a seamless transition to remote learning and ensured continued access to quality education for students globally. “The pandemic underscored the indispensable role of technology in education,” Reena reflects, emphasizing the transformative impact of her work.

Creative Solutions in High-Stakes Environments

Reena’s journey from overseeing the revival of over 100 dormant wells as an oilfield engineer to her tech-focused role has been defined by a pivotal moment that deeply influenced her approach to problem-solving and innovation.

Picture this: Reena is leading a crew in a remote oilfield that is tasked with performing high-pressure pumping operations at 15,000 psi. It’s almost sunset and any leak in the equipment could spell disaster—fatalities or severe injuries are a real risk. But here’s the catch—the client is pushing for nighttime operations to avoid hefty downtime charges, despite the heightened risks.

The urgency of the situation called for a unique approach and Reena threw herself into convincing the client of the risks involved, painting a vivid picture of the potential consequences, and emphasizing their isolated location with no nearby medical facilities. However, the client remains unmoved and fixated on avoiding downtime costs.

Determined not to give up, Reena pauses to consider the bigger picture. Delving into nearby resources and potential collaborations, she explores alternative options. Against all odds, she pulls off a minor miracle—rallying a team overnight from a nearby district. Their mission? Next day along with her existing crew to execute two parallel pumping operations and deftly dodging impending downtime charges. What seemed impossible mere hours ago now stands as a shining example of perseverance and creative problem-solving.

The next day, as dawn breaks, they’re on-site with renewed determination. And just in the nick of time, they identify a major leak in the lines, reaffirming the critical nature of their decision to avoid nighttime operations. Both jobs proceed smoothly, and the success is palpable. In the aftermath, Reena’s management lauds her steadfast commitment to crew safety and the client is so impressed that they entrust her with leading all their domestic projects. This experience taught Reena a crucial lesson- “In moments of intense pressure, it’s easy to lose sight of what truly matters. But by taking a step back and considering the bigger picture, we can find solutions that not only address the immediate challenges but also uphold the safety and integrity of our operations.”

From that day forward, Reena has applied this principle to her problem-solving approach, ensuring that she tackles the most critical aspects of a challenge while maintaining a holistic perspective. And it’s this adaptive and strategic mindset that continues to drive her success in both the oilfields and the tech industry today.

Farming Futures

Heading the operations unit at Universal Aquatech, her family’s business in aquaculture feed supplements provided Reena with invaluable exposure to a diverse industry landscape. “Interacting with B2B clients and Indian farmers, I quickly realized the dire predicament many farmers faced,” she recalls.

Determined to make a difference, Reena embarked on a mission to address these issues and improve the livelihoods of the farmers. “By organizing field visits with experts, I gained a comprehensive understanding of the challenges faced by the farmers,” she explains.

Armed with this knowledge, Reena launched information dissemination programs to dispel misconceptions and educate the farming community. She also advocated for the establishment of diagnostic centers to assist in aquaculture disease management, presenting data-backed arguments to local authorities.

Additionally, Reena conducted a thorough analysis of the feed inputs used by farmers, identifying opportunities to economize costs by developing cheaper substitutes for expensive imported products. Through these proactive measures, she succeeded in reducing farmers’ costs by 15% while simultaneously establishing a foothold in the B2C market.

“Listening to and understanding the pain points of end-users, we transformed a group of farmers into our first B2C customers,” Reena reflects, emphasizing the importance of empathy and active listening. These qualities, she believes, are key to driving success and creating meaningful impact in any industry.

The Art of Product Management

In Reena’s approach to product management, she’s found a groove that’s both effective and enjoyable. It all starts with understanding customers inside and out, gathering their feedback directly and diving deep into market research for insights. From there, she focuses on bringing everyone together early on with clear wireframes and roadmaps that keep the team on track.

When it’s time to prioritize features, Reena aims for a balanced blend of what customers want and what’s feasible, always keeping resources in mind. Throughout the development journey, she ensures the product is top-notch and user-approved through continuous testing.

On launch day, Reena orchestrates everything to run smoothly, ensuring all details are in place to make a splash. Even after the dust settles, she stays flexible and adapts the strategy as needed to stay ahead of the curve. Because in the end, it’s not about bragging rights—it’s about delivering value and enjoying the ride along the way.

Tech-Enabled Leadership

Reena’s experience with various technology tools and software allows her to effectively bridge the gap between the business and technology aspects of product management. Understanding the intricacies of SQL, HTML, CSS, Python, and full-stack development enables her to communicate effectively with both technical and non-technical stakeholders, ensuring alignment of product initiatives with the company’s strategic goals.

In shaping strategic initiatives, technology serves as both an enabler and a driver of innovation for Reena. By keeping up with emerging trends, she seizes opportunities to utilize cutting-edge tools and platforms. Whether it’s implementing automation to streamline workflows or leveraging data analytics for informed decision-making, technology empowers her to stay ahead and deliver value to stakeholders.

The Learning Leader

Transitioning from a hands-on operational role to a leadership position in technology demands a versatile skill set and a commitment to continuous learning for Reena. To stay abreast of industry trends and emerging technologies, she prioritizes curiosity and ongoing education. Reena makes it a habit to immerse herself in tech news and podcasts daily, ensuring she stays informed about the latest developments.

Additionally, she actively networks with industry professionals to understand their projects and perspectives. Furthermore, Reena consistently updates her skill set by taking relevant courses in up-and-coming areas; for instance—she recently completed courses on deep learning and cloud computing. By embracing a proactive approach to learning and development, she ensures that she remains well-equipped to lead in the ever-evolving landscape of technology.

Leading with Heart

As a woman in a leadership position within the operations and tech industry, fostering diversity and inclusion is not just a responsibility but a passion of Reena’s. One instance that truly exemplifies this commitment occurred during her time as an Oilfield Engineer at Schlumberger. She was facing the challenge of completing well-stimulation jobs during the holy month of Ramadan—a period of fasting observed by Muslim crew members.

Understanding the significance of Ramadan and the sacrifices her Muslim colleagues were making, Reena knew it was essential to create an environment where they felt respected, supported, and included. So, she took proactive steps to ensure their comfort and well-being.

This included adjusting meal catering times to coincide with their fasting schedule, relocating lunch areas to prevent others from eating or drinking in front of them, and arranging for paramedics to monitor their health. But it wasn’t just about logistics—it was about fostering a culture of empathy and inclusion among the entire team.

Encouraging her colleagues to put themselves in the shoes of their fasting crew members, Reena witnessed an overwhelming response. Despite the challenges of their labor-intensive work, every member of the team demonstrated remarkable solidarity. They willingly shared responsibilities and went above and beyond to ensure their Muslim colleagues could observe their rituals without hindrance.

The efforts paid off, with the company recognizing the value of her inclusive practices and adopting them for all Muslim crew members during Ramadan. This experience underscored the importance of empathy in team dynamics and showcased how understanding as well as support can foster inclusivity and drive success. As a leader, Reena continues to prioritize diversity and inclusion striving to create environments where every individual feels valued and supported regardless of their background or beliefs.

The Human Touch

“Balancing the technical aspects of my role with the human elements is a delicate yet crucial aspect of my approach,” reflects Reena. Recalling her journey into tech without a coding background back in 2019, she acknowledges the pivotal role of Vishal Kapur, CEO of Cedarwood Eduventures. “When the odds seemed stacked against me, Vishal took a chance on me,” she recalls gratefully.

Through Vishal’s mentorship, Reena learned firsthand the importance of human elements in leadership. “Vishal’s mentorship guided me to adapt with the power of giving someone a chance to demonstrate their abilities,” she explains. In terms of team development, Vishal taught her the significance of creating a safe space where every team member feels empowered to voice their thoughts and ideas.

Moreover, Reena discovered the value of small talk in easing everyone up before a big stressful meeting, fostering camaraderie and building rapport within the team. “Vishal’s guidance has been invaluable in shaping my understanding of how to effectively balance technical expertise with the human side of leadership and team dynamics,” she states.

Tech and Business Synergy

Looking ahead, Reena’s aspirations and goals within the tech industry are driven by a desire to leverage her diverse industry experiences and expertise to create meaningful impact. Having worked across sectors ranging from oil and gas to manufacturing to education, she recognizes the immense potential for technology to optimize operations in every industry. Her background in business, complemented by her product management and tech expertise, positions her well to contribute effectively.

With an MBA under her belt, Reena possesses a deep understanding of the business aspects of organizations. Moving forward, she aims to synthesize her knowledge and experiences to work as a consultant, advising businesses on their tech strategy. By combining strategic insights with innovative technological solutions, she seeks to help organizations navigate the advancing landscape of technology and business. Her ultimate goal is to drive positive change and make a tangible impact on the way businesses operate and innovate in the digital age.