MBA Alumna Thrives Under High Pressure as a Global Supply Chain Manager for Google
Niveditha Sunderraj, MBA '13, credits her NC State MBA background for teaching her the importance of confidence and resilience during the last few years as supply chain issues have been more prevelant in the global economy.
By Jess Clarke
Supply chain always has been a vital part of the global economy, but it usually had a low profile with the average consumer. Then came Covid-19, the war in Ukraine, inflation and other challenges.
Those issues transformed the work of Niveditha Sunderraj, a global supply chain manager for Google and a 2013 Jenkins MBA alumna.
“When Covid hit the world, supply chain people were suddenly brought into the limelight. In the last three years, I’ve seen every supply chain problem the world could have, and shortages ranging from power to plastic to computer chips. It keeps me from getting bored.”
Even without recent supply chain issues, Sunderraj has no time for boredom, working with next-generation technology for such leading companies as Google — and Tesla before that.
What’s helped her excel? Her MBA background has been invaluable.
“It taught me the importance of networking and drove home the point of resilience. It gave me the confidence I could go out in the world and achieve what I want…that I could work in a high-pressure environment and succeed,” she says. “It gave me the ability to talk to people from diverse backgrounds. And the MBA curriculum was really strong.”
A highlight of the program was the diversity of students in Sunderraj’s full-time, on-campus cohort. She went to NC State from her home country of India and wasn’t used to such a mix of people.
It boosted my confidence speaking to people who were not similar to me. Pitching my ideas to them was useful, and learning about how they looked at life extremely differently was awesome. That has helped me much more than I can quantify.
The ability to collaborate with a variety of people has been crucial in Sunderraj’s career since she finished the Jenkins program.
In her hybrid position with Google in the San Francisco Bay Area, she’s the liaison between the company’s engineers who are developing new technologies and the suppliers. She makes sure suppliers are meeting timelines and engineers’ requirements of functionality, quality and design.
Sunderraj focuses on the Google Nest line of smart home devices, a hot area for the company. “The Nest product line is used everywhere. It has a huge market share. Technology is something that really interests me,” she says. “I feel like I’m in the right place for me.”
She also was at the right place at NC State, a popular graduate-school choice for students in India, she notes.
She was the first graduate of the MBA and Master of Science in Industrial and Systems Engineering dual-degree program. Poole College career services advisers were attentive to international students’ needs. They helped prepare her to find relevant employment through networking events on campus and assistance with writing a resume and using LinkedIn.
Eventually, Sunderraj leveraged her career preparation and experience to land a fast-paced, high-pressure supply chain position at Tesla, where she worked for two years in the Bay Area.
She handled procurement for two types of car chargers by herself, which she calls “a pretty intense time” and her biggest career accomplishment so far. “It was a great learning opportunity and super interesting. I was doing a lot of impactful work,” she says.
She’s making a mark in her Google position, too, learning about technology and products that will be launched in the market in a couple of years. “I’m in the thick of things that really impact people,” Sunderraj says.
One of her career goals is to manage people eventually. And she wants to grow her side business, offering career counseling to international residents who live and work in the U.S. — inspired by the help she received from Poole College career advisers. Her clients are from the Middle East and Asia.
But her focus remains on supply chain.
“I really like working at Google. It’s a company that likes to take care of their employees,” Sunderraj says. “I have a good work-life balance. That keeps me happy.”