“Permission to Make Mistakes” is Key for Success and Other Advice for Growing Your Career

By Melissa Sheehan

March 17, 2022 | min
Deep Mahajan

“Nutanix is a deeply human company,” says Deep Mahajan, Senior Director and Head of People Development and Culture at Nutanix. “We take into account what makes sense for our people, whether it’s navigating office reopenings, architecting our benefits portfolio, or designing our learning and development programs.” Mahajan also notes that the company offers employees “the unique flexibility to build their careers and architect their impact at a growing company.”

This culture of care, autonomy, and development has been instrumental in Mahajan’s career growth too, enabling her to build a global function while continually experimenting and learning. When a chief of staff opportunity arose, Mahajan took the leap to expand her skills and experience beyond her background in learning and development.

“The new role was fascinating. It offered an opportunity to work cross-functionally and to lead a key project for Nutanix—defining the Future of Work initiative or our approach to designing a hybrid work environment with team members who are remote, in-office, or a blend of the two,’” shares Mahajan.

We spoke with Mahajan about her experience building a team, progressing her career, and cultivating a culture of well-being and growth.

Nutanix is a very open company. At the very top, we have leaders who are open to exploring career transitions and mobility, whether it’s cross-functional or cross-geographical moves.

Deep Mahajan

Tell us about your job.

As the Head of People Development and Culture, I’m responsible for the learning and development of our global Nutanix employees. This includes all types of development: skill building, behavioral trainings, managerial and leadership capabilities, cultural initiatives, and learning paths that help employees grow, in addition to programs like goal setting and performance management.

In 2017, I joined Nutanix as a senior manager. Today, I’m at the senior director level. I recently expanded my role to include chief of staff responsibilities where I work with our People Leadership Team to define and articulate our strategy, vision, and goals, while also running projects that positively impact our employees.

Nutanix People Team

The global Nutanix People Team at an event in 2019

Tell us about your experience building a team.

My team grew from two to 12 people globally in four years. It’s the largest team that I’ve managed. I wouldn’t say I got everything right from the beginning, but I can say that building a team from the ground up was a great learning experience for me as a leader.

One principle that served me well is staying committed to hiring the right people and consciously building a team with diverse skills and experiences beyond one traditional background. The common ingredient that my team shares is a passion for culture and the employee experience. My team has not let me down—they’re capable and have enabled me to take on my new role.

How has your manager set you up for success?

I have had a few managers at Nutanix. That’s the nature of being in the technology space. All my managers have given me autonomy to build my vision and strategy and the permission to make and learn from mistakes.

My former manager coached me drawing from her experience managing stakeholders and influencing others. She fed my hunger by giving me stretch opportunities to broaden my skills and had career conversations with me to understand my career objectives and to create opportunities for me. Landing my chief of staff role was an outcome of one of those conversations.

What else helped you advance your career?

Nutanix is a very open company. At the very top, we have leaders who are open to exploring career transitions and mobility, whether it’s cross-functional or cross-geographical moves. We have many examples of people who transition within Nutanix, and it’s celebrated and encouraged.

Any advice for people who want to develop their career?

You must own your career from a mindset perspective. Take your career into your own hands; don’t wait for it to happen to you.

Next, think about who can help you. Use your manager as a starting point and seek help from others. Tap into the experts at your company to fill your cup of information to understand what exists, what you want to do, and what you don’t want to do. Use informational interviews to open your mind as you explore.

In conversations with your manager, don’t be shy about discussing where you are, what you want to do, and where you need support to guide your career.

How does Nutanix support employee well-being?

Even before the pandemic, I appreciated Nutanix’s generous benefits package, which was an indicator of the culture of support. Employees can leverage our Grokker platform to support their well-being—whether it’s getting in shape, enriching their mindfulness practice, eating better, or improving their financial wellbeing. Parents of special needs children can get additional support through our partnership with Rethink. For our employees in the U.S., we launched Ginger this past year for added mental health support 24/7.

During the pandemic, Nutanix implemented initiatives like quarterly well-being days, no-meeting Fridays, and a virtual summer camp for kids run by employee volunteers for our working parents and families. When it comes to planning office reopenings in the wake of the pandemic, the company puts employee safety first.

In terms of my team, we talk about wellness often. I share what I’m doing, whether it’s walking meetings or books I enjoy like The Extended Mind by Annie Murphy Paul. We have wellness buddies to keep people honest, and we do service learning using our Volunteer Time Off benefit.

Nutanix Team Volunteering

Deep (second from right) and her team volunteering at a nonprofit in San Jose, California

How do you manage stress?

Walking is my go-to stress-buster to clear my mind and rejuvenate me when my brain is tired from context shifting or meetings.

Tell us about someone that has had a profound impact on you.

My father taught me to find joy in work and in diversions and not to get jaded into following a typical career path. He is a doctor who took a career diversion to benefit a cause close to his heart.

Any advice for someone feeling stuck or unhappy in their career?

It’s natural for this to happen. Give yourself time to pause and collect yourself as things settle. In the technology space, people often jump into action quickly. There’s value in slowing down and being mindful to go fast in the long term.

Second, don’t go alone on the journey. Share what you’re going through with someone you trust. Talking to others is a powerful way to gain perspective.

Want to learn more about Nutanix? Explore more of our Life At Nutanix blog or visit our Nutanix Careers page for current job openings.


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