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Culture is key: Interview with an inventor

California-based Pelco by Schneider Electric is a world leader in video security systems. Kshama Vijayakumar, who earlier was in my team at Cognizant, is now an inventor at Pelco. Here's what she thinks about invention, inspiration, and impact.

1. What are your inventions?

My patented invention is a "Method and Apparatus for Creating a Zone of Interest in a Video Display." The method includes creating zones on a video. A zone can be a person or an object of interest. The customer can focus and select it to view it separately.

I also have two more inventions filed for patenting.

2.What inspires you to innovate?

I really love what I do. A desire to make the user's life easier drives me to work everyday. So I guess my passion is what inspires me to innovate. The work environment at Pelco and the people here are also a big motivating factor.

3. How does innovating and winning patents change your career? What do they do to your employer and customers?

Patents are definitely a good thing to have on a resume. But its not just about winning patents or adding value to the resume. Innovation is a change in mindset. It is getting into the habit of thinking out of the box. Once this happens, you try to be innovative in everything you do. This I think has had and will continue to have a positive impact on my life and career.

From the employer's perspective, innovation within the company is about building new and better products – and that signals business growth, which is a good thing. For the customer, the benefits include better use of their time and money and a better experience with the product.

4. We had created an innovation culture within our team at Cognizant. Did that culture help you?

The culture within our team at Cognizant definitely sowed the seed for thinking out of the box. The constant insistence back then on thinking different even now makes me challenge my own creations. I also see the importance of certain things I was involved in back then – like doing research projects and running weekly creativity clubs. They help one develop an innovation mindset.

Though I have learned a lot since then and continue to do so, the basics I got from our team have taken me a long way. I have to thank you for creating this opportunity to learn from you and the team.

5. Our team's morale peaked while you were there and we called you CFO (Chief Fun Officer). What are some of the new things you are involved in? And what's coming up next?

I'm happy to hear that our team's morale was at its peak while I was there. I did have a lot of fun, too! Currently, I'm part of R&D, which focuses on innovation and on building a corporate culture of innovation. I'm completely enjoying my role! I haven't given much thought to the "next," but I think I'd like to continue what I do and hopefully be more innovative and inspired.


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