What People Say…
In the interest of full transparency, the full text has been included in the below testimonials, including any suggestions on how I might improve. I am all about continuous improvement.
Darshana Hawks was my supervisor at Piedmont Natural Gas (PNG) for five years (2010-15). While working together, she became two teams’ supervisor simultaneously:
- Data and Reporting;
- Data Application Development.
The Data and Reporting team worked with SSIS and SQL Server. The Data Application Development team focused on .Net development for Windows and Web. Darshana hired me onto the Data and Reporting team to move data from various source systems into a central database for reporting. At some point, I evolved into the Technical Team Lead role for the Data and Reporting team. In my last year at PNG, we began designing and developing a greenfield Data Warehouse project. During my time at Piedmont, I was a champion of Agile Software Development and worked with several managers and their teams, including Darshana, to transition to Agile. She encouraged me in this role and supported my efforts.
Most of the projects we worked on were small, report-specific data projects. However, several were not, and I will detail a couple of those here.
- We worked on a 12-month Business Intelligence (BI) project to roll the ERP data from PowerPlant software to a SQL Server reporting data warehouse. Darshana was an excellent manager of this project. She led with intelligence and understanding and demonstrated the ability to negotiate with demanding clients and complicated technology exceptionally well.
- We also worked on the Agile implementation. In this regard, Darshana took the initiative to lead the agile practices and demonstrate their efficacy to other managers and team leads throughout the IT and Business Departments – this was a company-wide initiative. She established Product Owners to represent each department, trained them on how to be a stellar product owner, and facilitated product backlog prioritization meetings. She is an excellent collaborator and works well with peers, clients, and managers to get things done and remove her teams’ impediments.
Working with Darshana is incredible. She is well-trained and experienced at relationship management, and it shows in her workplace acumen. She is very good at leading without micro-managing, is intelligent and knowledgeable, treats everyone with respect, and has a friendly demeanor. She is selective and responsible when asked to perform extra duties or take on more work, managing both her teams’ workload and her clients’ expectations. That said, she works hard to make sure that she meets her clients’ needs while maintaining a level of professionalism that allows her to negotiate those needs when necessary.
You can expect Darshana to focus on relationships in her work. Locking in the good relationships and working hard to convert any bad ones. She is a strong and courageous leader who does not shy away from difficult problems. In fact, you can expect her to be in the thick of things, bringing the right people to the table to solve the most challenging problems quickly and effectively.
If I could work for Darshana again, I certainly would. If I were an employer looking for someone to lead a team or manage a challenging project, then I would hire Darshana in a heartbeat. I believe she embodies modern leadership skills and team development strategies. Calm under pressure, Darshana is the epitome of handling difficult situations well. In one case, another manager decided to have a turf war with Darshana. It could have been very messy, but instead, she handled it with aplomb and defused the situation before it could even get started.
From an advice column in the local paper to countless encouraging posts on Linked-in, Darshana has used her relationship skills to help others, both personally and professionally.
I consider Darshana one of my favorite managers and still count on her as a mentor and friend.
Darshana was the project manager assigned to my project. We worked on a project to build new database servers and migrate existing databases to a new version of the database software. Darshana was well organized and inspiring. She assisted in removing roadblocks for me and kept things moving smoothly. We delivered as promised.
Working with Darshana was one of the most pleasant and rewarding experiences of my career. She always has her ducks lined up and has all the contacts necessary to get the job done. If I needed assistance with a situation all I had to do was tell her and it was done. Punctual, professional, knowledgeable, reliable. She always promoted teamwork and for her, it was leadership by example.
Darshana is always calm. Nothing can knock her off her game. No matter what the challenge she organizes herself and thinks her way through the problem methodically. She seeks feedback from others to verify her ideas. She determines what the requirements are. Focuses on them and gets the job done. She adds a depth of knowledge, compassion, organization, and professionalism that makes a difference.
You can expect these skills and abilities when working with her:
- Well organized
- Knows how to read the room
- Clear communicator
- A servant leader
- Ability to inspire others do make greater achievements
If I were the hiring manager and Darshana applied for a job with me I would hire her on the spot. She is outstanding!
I first met Darshana as the hiring manager for a software development position I applied for at a major utility company in Charlotte, NC. She took a chance on me and our working relationship flourished over the next few years. Darshana served as the manager and Agile Coach for our Scrum team. My role started as an entry-level developer and with her coaching I quickly advanced to an intermediate and eventually senior level developer, mentoring others. Darshana did an excellent job ensuring I had the tools necessary to be successful in my role.
I am grateful for the foundational leadership skills I acquired from serving under Darshana’s leadership.
By far the most memorable project that Darshana and I worked on together was referred to as Online Scheduling. It was a 12-18-month initiative that targeted the digital automation of utility start/stop/transfer requests for new and existing customers. This strategic initiative was a sweeping success that wooed our business partners and competition alike.
It has always been a pleasure to work with Darshana. Her communication skills are unmatched and she always maintains a positive outlook. She does a great job of helping those around her balance work-life to ensure people are fully engaged but never approaching burnout.
Darshana’s ability to coach individuals and aid them in developing themselves both professionally and personally is her greatest skill in my opinion. She is a proven leader that delivers results through a people-first approach.
While it has been some time since we worked closely together, the only area of opportunity I can recall is related to Darshana’s perceived perception by others. I think she could benefit by celebrating herself and her accomplishments more without fear of others’ views on the same.
During our time working together, I think Darshana did an excellent job of maintaining expectations with our business partners as the leader of our technology team. Prioritizing BAU work can be a major challenge when a single development team supports multiple business units. She spearheaded the task of openly juggling competing priorities to ensure business objectives were met efficiently and effectively without playing favorites or jeopardizing relationships with business partners.
Darshana’s unique skill set is an asset to any team tasked with producing high quality work in an efficient manner.
Darshana’s people first approach to leadership has served her well in garnering results on strategic initiatives that have had deep impact in meeting business goals.
The most important thing I learned from working with Darshana is the power of encouragement and taking care of oneself first. Now that I am serving in a leadership role it is something that I constantly remind my team. Any time one of my directs mentions not feeling well or needing to leave work early to attend a child’s event or appointment, they don’t know it but I am quoting Darshana each time I tell them “Please take care of yourself first”!
Darshana Hawks and I were co-workers and friends at Piedmont Natural Gas. Darshana acted as interim supervisor for GMS (large industrial accounts) Billing department, supervisor of an IT department, project manager. I was supervisor, then manager of our GMS Billing department, then Manager of Customer Service Support, and worked with Darshana in all of those positions.
Darshana, as an interim supervisor, implemented process improvements that improved the timeliness and accuracy of month-end closing functions and provided support for me and a transfer of knowledge when I took over the department.
As supervisor of her technical team, Darshana instituted Agile and Scrum, in her area, which improved the timeliness of work completion by her area to deliver programming requests requested by my area and others to support our systems, and the implementation of new functionality.
As a project manager on several projects for which I was a participant, Darshana provided full project manager functions (RFPs, SOWs, BRDs, schedules, change requests, etc.). She helped keep her assigned projects on track and keep her sponsors informed.
Darshana and I worked well together. We shared mutual respect and a similar vision for the assignments we shared. Darshana cared about delivering work that would satisfy, and when possible, exceed the expectations of the stakeholders for the projects and day to day deliverables she and her team provided. She also treated her team with respect, being sure to give them credit for the work they performed, and for their skills and abilities. Darshana was passionate about providing outstanding service to her internal customers and giving her team the time and tools they needed to be successful.
For me, her greatest strength was her passion for her work, and her desire to implement tools and practices that would enable her and her team to provide superior service. As is the case with most of us, Darshana’s greatest strength of passion also presents an opportunity for improvement. I would say it is a need at times for increased patience when others are slow to recognize the benefits of proposed changes, which can lead to frustration – she handled challenges well, with occasional frustration when others would throw up roadblocks that were detrimental to the company and her team.
The best accomplishment of Darshana’s was to implementing agile on her team. This increased productivity and helped better manage the expectations of her internal customers. My department greatly benefited from this experience. Though she faced some roadblocks along the way, as our company was not always quick to accept change, she stayed strong and showed the value of her recommendations by implementing them on her team and increasing the satisfaction of their work among her stakeholders.
Darshana cared about her team and would do whatever she could to help them thrive in their careers. She has a passion for helping others to be the best they can and help them overcome personal obstacles.