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Alumni Spotlight: IQVIA career leads to non-profit

Alumni Spotlight: IQVIA career leads to non-profit

Shekar Hariharan, Founder and CEO of the Shifting Orbits Foundation and member of the IQVIA Alumni Network, discusses how his time at IQVIA equipped him to pursue his passion for philanthropy.

What was meaningful about your work at IQVIA?

In 2000, I started as a developer at Software Associate International which was acquired by IMS Health, bringing me into what is now the IQVIA family. I was fortunate enough to grow through the ranks and cultivate a large network of friends and colleagues whom I can trust.

Describe a breakthrough moment at IQVIA.

One distinct moment was in 2004 when IQVIA opened an office in India. I had been in the United States for four years, but was interested in returning to my home country. As a result of my move back to India, my role changed from managing a small team to managing over 20 people while handling offshore development work for global stakeholders. This allowed me to experience what it was like to run larger programs and teams. When I left IQVIA in 2017, I was heading the U.S. business unit's offshore team with more than 650 employees. In retrospect, that moment was a defining one for many of the events that followed, including my current endeavor.

How did your time at IQVIA shape who you are today?

IQVIA has been a major part of my professional life. Besides giving me global experience, working across countries and teams and financial stability, IQVIA is also the reason I had the opportunities to learn skills including: managing enterprise software development cycles, growing and managing large teams, financial management and customer engagement. I also lived through a series of mergers and acquisitions within my tenure. One thing I immensely respect is how the culture improved with each new addition! Today, these experiences are what helped me create and shape my own non-profit organization.

Since IQVIA, what have you been up to career-wise?

In 2017, I decided to pursue my philanthropic passion. I joined the fellowship of Teach for India, teaching grades five and six children in low-income public schools. It was a memorable two-year experience where I learned the realities of poverty and the limitations of the public education system. In my second year, I founded my non-profit organization, Shifting Orbits Foundation, with a mission to democratize after-school support for every child from low-income communities. Since starting with four families, our team of now 20, supports over 350 families in several urban and rural communities in India.

Tell us about the proudest moment in your career.

I think my proudest moment in my career coincides with my boldest one: when I decided to pursue my philanthropic passion. I spoke to senior leadership and human resources about my non-profit venture and, even though it meant parting ways, they offered to help me pursue my passion. both now and in the future. Since then, IQVIA and its employees continue to be a strong support to me both in personal and professional capacities.

What's the single most important piece of career advice you can offer anyone?

In your life, you are surrounded by opportunities that can help shape you and your future. Many of us turn a blind eye to them and end up obsessing over the ones that suit our immediate needs. This leads us to believe that the ‘real’ opportunities are elsewhere, when in fact they’ve been around us all the time. Don’t forget to focus on your long-term dreams and goals.

The IQVIA Alumni Network is open to alumni of IQVIA, its joint ventures, legacy and acquired firms. Register today.

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