Engineering Alumni Spotlight: Kalpana Yendluri

Kalpana YendluriKalpana Yendluri, MSCS '95, a technology executive at Experian Marketing Services, puts passion into practice. She takes an energetic, technology-driven approach to her profession, forging an impressive 27-year career in data management and business intelligence, as well as technology engineering and operations specializations. She believes in the value of building top-level global teams to solve business problems and optimize processes. She sees the importance of nurturing the next generation of engineers and computer scientists - particularly young women - following in her footsteps. She gives back to her alma mater through the Industry Mentor Program, campus recruitment, the College of Engineering Alumni Council, and the recently established WSU Women in Engineering, Engineering Technology and Computer Science Leadership Society. Kalpana is a humanitarian devoted to creating positive changes in her community.

Can you please describe your career path?

I started my first job a few months before graduation. It was a six-month consulting opportunity as a power builder developer. After that, I landed at Ford Research Labs as a consultant. I was with Ford Motor Company for about 11 years in various departments as a database consultant, PeopleSoft consultant, and ETL and DW architect. Working at Ford gave me the opportunity to learn the corporate world and the soft skills needed to succeed.

Later I was presented with an opportunity for direct hire into Equifax to establish and lead the ETL CoE for the enterprise. This was an opportunity for me to shine and grow as a leader. I quickly picked up on the direct marketing business and could relate to it well. I played with different technologies and data, from ingestion to fulfillment. I also realized the joy in giving back and participated in multiple philanthropic events, giving my time and money.

My next step up the corporate career ladder came through Ally Financial in the technology engineering and operations. I was hired to be accountable for enterprise shared services and infrastructure supporting multiple business units. This was the best time of my career. I took advantage of the opportunities that helped me grow and mature as a leader, person and philanthropist. During this time, I was actively engaged with Wayne State mentoring, and recruited interns and early talent into the organization.

I recently joined Experian Marketing Services to head the data management of the world's largest consumer database and modernize the processes and technologies to support business better.

Describe the ways you've stayed connected to Wayne State since graduation.

I mentored a few first-generation female students in the Mike Ilitch School of Business. I recruited several students into the Ally Financial Early Talent Program as well as summer interns over the last five years. I always enjoyed meeting students at the College of Engineering's fall campus recruiting events.

I have stayed in touch with Dean Fotouhi and learned about the college's research and innovation projects as well as education and workforce development. I volunteered at Hackathon in November 2020. I am actively marketing Wayne State happenings on social media to bring awareness and support, and connecting alumni to the Engineering Alumni Council, on which I serve as a board member.

With what other organizations do you volunteer?

I am very passionate about women empowerment, always finding ways to develop and expand opportunities for women in technology. I offer my leadership to multiple local organizations. I am an executive sponsor for the Women Security Alliance and a member and volunteer at the Michigan Council for Women in Technology. I sponsor STEM programs through my employer, and I serve on the marketing committee for SIM Detroit chapter and the financial review committee for Impact100 Metro Detroit.

Why did you choose to attend Wayne State?

I was an international student from India and a first-generation immigrant in my family. I have extended family in Michigan, hence my parents felt comfortable sending me to Wayne State University.

List any student organizations or teams you were part of at Wayne State.

Indian Student Association

How did your education at Wayne State prepare you for what you are doing today?

In Fall 1992, I registered for Database Management Systems course with Dean Fotouhi. I subsequently took two more classes and found that I enjoyed the DBMS series of courses, which laid the groundwork for my career in data. I spent long hours at the computer science lab writing code for class projects and built a strong foundation. There were days I came back to my apartment from the lab in the early hours and went straight to my campus job.

While these classes helped me gain knowledge and technical skills to prepare me for a corporate job, it was the on-campus jobs, team projects and internships that taught me more important skills - being a team player, communication, value of money and time, conflict management, humility and kindness.

Who influenced you the most during your time at Wayne State?

Dean Fotouhi and Dr. Mahmud were big influencers and motivators for me during my graduate school days. They were very supportive of international students, gave their valuable time and advice, and challenged us to do better. I have stayed in touch with both of them.

What is the most important thing you learned at Wayne State?

Some of those class assignments were very tough and, after several hours of coding and testing, I found myself going nowhere and often had to start all over again. Lessons learned the hard way are - do not procrastinate, never give up!

What advice do you have for current students who want to make the most out of their experience at Wayne State?

Take advantage of many opportunities available from sponsoring organizations, industries, student organizations & professors. Work hard but be sure to have some fun along the way. You will cherish these college days for a long time in future.

I recently published a LinkedIn article that provides career advice more beneficial for young people entering the workforce.

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