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An Internal Auditor, Kumararaj G.
Kumararaj G. grew up in India. After getting married (to Sarumathi G.) and having his first son (Kiran K.), Kumararaj G. decided to move to America to raise his family. In 1992 he came to Harrisburg, Philadelphia. 4 years later he had his second son, Arun K. He currently lives in Aurora, IL and works at CNA (a business insurance company).
What did you want to do when you grew up (as a kid)? Please explain why you wanted this career.
Physicist - because my role model was Sir C.V. Raman, an Indian Nobel laureate. When I did my studies, Physics and Mathematics courses had high competition and regarded as the best ones to get jobs at the prestigious R&D institutions. In addition, my elder brother who studied Electronics and Communications engineering mentored and persuaded me to go for Masters and helped to pay for it.
Why prompted your switch of careers (why didn’t you end up doing what you wanted to do as a kid)?
I did become a Scientist at the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), however, due to the assignments as a mission controller I switched to computer programming and project management. When I moved to U.S.A, since I did not have the citizenship I could not able to join Jet Propulsion Lab. So, I was forced to join healthcare consulting and accepted to work until I get the citizenship. Fortunately, I loved the job and progressed in the healthcare consulting engagements.
What education have you had? How much of this education did you use at your jobs? Please explain.
I have completed my Masters in Physics (Crystallography) and Certificate in Scientific Programming and Computer Aided Design and Manufacturing (CAD/CAM). My academic skills in Crystallography helped me to apply the Spectroscopic (8 Channel) instruments to design the onboard VLSI/micro circuits to measure the satellite’s temperature.
My programming skills helped me to build the onboard data acquisition to monitor the function of the satellites such as pitch, yaw, temperature, speed, etc.
Please describe all the workplaces you have been at, what you did there, and your career path.
Most of my careers for eight years at India were with ISRO, however, when I moved to U.S.A., I have consulted for Jet Propulsion Lab, several health insurance companies, health care providers, and commercials insurance companies.
At Jet Propulsion Lab, I have developed a component based cost evaluation module for Earth Orbiting Satellites (EOS).
At the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Pennsylvania I have developed an automated electronic benefit management system for PA Medicaid insureds.
At the Methodist Hospitals, instrumental in the acquisition and merger of fourteen hospitals and skill nursing facilities at three states, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Mississippi.
At the CNA Insurance as a Director of Audit I am responsible for auditing of CNA entities throughout the world and reporting to the Board of Directors.
How did the location affect your work experiences?
Chicago being one of the key financial centers, next to New York, is home to several insurance companies and brokerage firms. Also, Naperville/Aurora has good Metra train connections to Chicago downtown and voted as one of the best place to live in U.S.A. with excellent school system and libraries. These features combined with low crime rate motivated me to accept the job at CNA Insurance, Chicago. Also, the job at Chicago has good work life balance and provides lot more options for switching the companies in the insurance industry.
How satisfied were you with each of your jobs?
My dream job, Physicist, at ISRO helped me apply the skills acquired through my educations to design and develop satellite components. Being a R&D institution, it allowed me interact with international scientists and enabled myself to develop the soft skills such as communication, time management, and managerial skills. In the jobs at the healthcare organizations taught me the intricacies of the business operations and ways and means to run the company cost effectively. These jobs paved the path to learn more about finance and management skills that led to a M.B.A from UIC.
Do you ever plan on switching jobs, again? Why or why not?
No, I am content with the current job. The dynamic nature of the business cycle and the dire need for ethics and trust keeps me motivated and the role I play in the company has direct impact on the company’s growth and safeguarding the shareholder value. The work life balance, socially responsible management, and having a possible career progression with this 100 year old company interest me to continue.
If you could talk to your former self (teenager) what advice would you give? What advice would you give a modern teenager?
Migrating to U.S.A and travelling internationally for job reasons, taught me several life skills. 1) Life is full of surprise and lot to learn. 2) Be confident to face the life as it presents. 3) Never shy to try and learn new things otherwise you can’t realize your fullest potential. To the modern teenager, 1) there is no substitute for hard work, 2) do not limit yourself to a narrow field and start exploring your passion, and 3) open your heart and mind to respect and learn from the world.
Could you please tell me some of the strangest, funniest, or most important things you have had to do as part of your job or as part of a job interview?
Knowledge is power – Coming from a third world country to U.S.A and commanding respect only happened because of my qualifications and R&D experience from a high tech space industry.
Listen with patience and respect diverse opinions – Learning is a lifelong experience and that could happen anytime from listening and respecting diverse opinions from others.
Since you are senior and a manager does not mean that you know everything. But your wisdom gained through your experience and patience will allow you to make right decisions at the difficult times.
What would you say are the most important things to have on a strong resume?
Managerial skills and the positive business impact you have created in your previous jobs.
Diversified work experience such as experience in multiple industries, technical and business skills, and progressive job growth.
Quantify and qualify the achievements such as financials related to cost savings, business growth, etc.
If you could redo your life with the knowledge and experience you have now, would you follow the same career path or would you do things differently? Please explain.
Even though, I am content with my current job, I love to follow my passion as a Physicist. But, after working at the corporate world for the past fifteen years and the decline in the R&D jobs at the Space industry, due to funding, it would be hard to find the dream job once again. Also, working for a private company for salary limits the options to express myself. So, I would like to start my own small business and built it from the ground.
Has your work life ever interfered with your personal life? Please explain.
To perform audits and investigations I travel a lot (30%) in my current job. The flight cancellations due to weather, over booking, and mechanical problems forces the delay in arrival time to home. These business trips occasionally interfere with my personal life such as my son’s concerts, competitions, etc. Also, my parents and most of the family members live in India. Due to work schedule and number of personal time off days available limits the possibility of visiting my family members both on regular (annual) and emergency basis.