Passionate problem solver tackles energy technology

Software engineer Priya has developed products for e-commerce, online shopping and electric vehicles. Now it’s tackling solutions for energy and industrial operations.

Priya Rajendran has an inquisitive mind, and so far she’s used it to lead high-performing teams developing complex software solutions for some of the world’s best-known companies, including PayPal, Target and Ford. When Baker Hughes came knocking on the door with a job offer, “I didn’t know the oil and gas industry very well,” she says. “But when I saw the problems Baker Hughes was solving and how interesting and complex industrial operations were, the engineer in me wanted to come here and get involved.”

Priya Rajendran, Vice President of Product Development, Baker Hughes

Rajendran joined Baker Hughes in 2021 as Vice President of Product Development, leading product design and development of the company’s energy and industrial asset management solutions.

In the process of researching Baker Hughes before the interview, she watched some of President and CEO Lorenzo Simonelli’s presentations on the energy transition and became increasingly intrigued by the idea of ​​working on software that sits at the intersection of solving macro-energy challenges and business needs. She saw the potential to make an impact working at Baker Hughes as the company focuses on efficiency and decarbonization of energy and industrial operations.

Build new products in a new sector

“Baker Hughes opened my eyes to this new world of energy,” says Rajendran. “During my career, I’ve changed fields every four or five years – from retail payments to automotive, and now to the energy industry. I love moving into a new area because I’ve honed my craft and know-how on how to be a good product manager, how to build great products and great teams. It makes things a lot more interesting when trying to do it in an industry that I’m not very familiar with.

She joined at a critical time. In March, Baker Hughes announced a collaboration with C3 AI, Accenture and Microsoft to develop Baker Hughes industrial asset management solutions for energy and industrial clients. Companies have a history of strategic collaborations. They each bring their specific expertise to help accelerate the development of energy and industrial software to improve the safety, efficiency and emissions profiles of machinery, field equipment and other critical assets.

“My team develops software products, using data from equipment and other equipment to create algorithms that recommend ways to optimize various parameters for industrial operations,” says Rajendran. “We build the brains to monitor operational equipment and make it more efficient, reduce emissions, reduce operating costs and improve maintenance. The big picture is that companies are doing better and the most important needs, such as energy efficiency and emission reductions, can be met. »

Overall, companies are doing better and the most important needs, like energy efficiency and reducing emissions, can be met.

Connecting the best of the best

Rajendran and his group work with engineers, software developers and data scientists at Baker Hughes to leverage extensive industry experience and an installed base of sensors and software across condition monitoring, advanced rotating equipment monitoring and services, valve performance, inspection, artificial intelligenceand machine health and heritage strategy that have long been embedded in how the company makes its products and solutions more effective for customers.

“We work with the entire team with unparalleled energy industry experience to create our solutions,” says Rajendran. One of his missions is to consolidate Baker Hughes’ offer to make it easier for customers. “Today, we offer distinct solutions that address specific needs and focus on specific assets or equipment for our customers,” she says. “This is our differentiated starting point. Now we start solving bigger challenges by connecting the dots. For example, for the valve whose life cycle we manage with Baker Hughes VLM, we want to understand how it affects the performance of the whole asset and how it affects the operational process as a whole. We look at all of this holistically, providing a single, flexible solution for high visibility and easier decision-making.

The ambition is to have a solution hosting a suite of products, with flawless interoperability and simplicity. “You can have one product for condition monitoring, another for asset health, another for asset strategy, but they all run on the same data and talk to each other,” says Rajendran.

Addressing unmet needs through technology – whether it’s household chores or e-commerce

Rajendran, who graduated in his home country of India, moved to the United States and the San Francisco Bay Area for a job in 1999, and has lived and worked there ever since. His focus on solving problems with technology in a way that works smoothly for anyone who wants to use it has manifested in S’moresUpa startup she co-founded in 2017. Rajendran recently divorced and took a career break to focus on setting up her new life, which included joint custody of her then 11-year-old daughter.

Energy Forward Stories_Priya Rajendran and her daughter
Priya with her daughter

“My daughter lived between our two houses, and we were discussing how to get consistency between the two places, including household chores but also scheduling violin pick-ups or volleyball — all that sort of thing” , explains Rajendran. She turned to technology but couldn’t find a cohesive app that did it all, and told a friend she had worked with at PayPal about it. “He said, well, you’re a product, why not see if that’s an issue just for you, or for more parents out there.” They surveyed 1,000 parents and found it to be a universal problem for families with children.

“We built a prototype and five years later nearly 400,000 people are using the product, in 130 countries,” she says.

She enjoyed similar success in her early days at what was then eBay’s PayPal, a well-known training ground for some of Silicon Valley’s most influential founders. Defining success for a fast-moving startup meant embracing cultural beliefs that would influence good product decisions.

Culture was a big deciding factor when taking on the job at Baker Hughes.

“As soon as I met the people, I was sold,” she says. “Baker Hughes is truly focused on selecting diverse candidates – not just women, but anyone with different life and upbringing experiences, different perspectives.”

She wants to work for companies “where not only do you have a voice at the table, but it’s needed and encouraged,” she reflects. “At several companies I’ve found it can be very lonely in meetings, being female, more with tech and STEM on top of that, and also being brunette and non-English speaking. At Baker Hughes, I don’t I’ve never felt that, and our team here is very diverse – we have people from all geographies and all walks of life. I love the team.”

Our team here is very diverse – we have people from all geographies and walks of life. I like the team.

Rajendran also enjoys the personal challenge of “learning something new,” she says of her journey through the world of energy and industrial assets. She arrived with a very practical kit: decades of diverse experience in the industry. “There is a lot of value in cross-sector pollination of ideas. It’s something I’m really looking forward to bringing to Baker Hughes as well.