ITA Spotlight: Aparna Yarlagadda, Director Business Intelligence, KeHE Distributors
Monday, June 8, 2020
Posted by: Abbey Kwiat
Aparna Yarlagadda, Director Business Intelligence, KeHE Distributors
Are you a Chicagoan by birth or relocation?
I relocated here from Australia. I was attracted to opportunities in the US, and I chose Chicago because of its central location.
What about KeHE was appealing?
KeHE culture is amazing in the sense that it revolves around “serving to make lives better.” KeHE Cares is our philanthropic wing, which serves internal partners, external partners, and communities that are in need. KeHE is always looking for opportunities to help communities and our planet to make a positive difference in any way we can. All of us at KeHE share this passion and do our part.
What is the coolest thing you’ve developed or project you’ve worked on?
We built a recommendation engine that suggests replacements for items that are either not performing well or are not available for various reasons. The reason I think it is cool is not only because this is a new capability we have provided for our business partners, but also because it was our first foray into products using machine learning.
What is the hardest challenge that you’ve faced on your professional journey?
Switching careers from accounting to technology was difficult, as the software applications were completely new to me. I went from using the applications to developing them.
What do you think are the top issues facing the Illinois tech community?
Access to good talent, and the training and mentoring capabilities required to build a strong talent pool.
What is your earliest childhood memory of technology in your life?
The telephone since this was at a time when only certain people – like doctors – had access to them.
What did you want to be when you were in kindergarten?
I wanted to be a teacher, as I was always excited to explain what I learned in school to my family. I remember using the back of a door as a chalkboard!
What have been some of your favorite media of the last six months and why?
I love reading leadership articles which I subscribe to from Kellogg Insight. The topics are ones I can relate to. It enables me to follow and implement the same ideas to be a better leader and mentor my team.
What’s the best advice that you’ve ever received?
Aim high, but set realistic goals!
If you could have a dinner party with three famous and influential figures, dead or alive, who would they be and why?
Warren Buffet – I rigorously follow the stock market, and Buffet’s approach to investments has been my guiding light.
Sheryl Sandberg – She has been my role model in balancing career and family. She explains very well the need for women in leadership.
Indira Nooyi – She showed that women from different cultures can rise to the top of multinational organizations while still keeping their identity.
With more than 5,500 employee-owners and a 16-distribution center network across North America, we’re one of the largest and most respected national fresh, natural & organic and specialty food distributors. Where we go, we spread the word on healthy eating, sustainable living, and responsible business with integrity. And we back it up with a large distribution network and advanced performance metrics that assure goodness follows to our vendor partners and retail grocers.