Venu Vittaladevuni

At home and in the office, Venu Vittaladevuni believes in challenging people's conceptions to help foster creative ideas.

Venu is the Associate Director of Marketing. He works across the various departments of Genentech to help bring medicines to patients suffering from respiratory health issues.

I was born and raised in India. My father passed away when I was just six months old, leaving my mom a young widow with two children. We had few resources, so we joined my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins — 15 altogether — in a small one-bedroom apartment where we learned to be together and help one another.

My elder sister would teach me math, and I would teach my cousins in turn. Home is where I developed this sense of responsibility to community and society, along with a rather optimistic outlook on life. These early experiences taught me that changing one’s future requires being open to change - to adapting and reinventing oneself.

Moving to Indiana in 2001 to earn my MBA was definitely a change. I stood out and had to deal with some narrow mindsets, especially in a post 9/11 environment where something as simple as the color of my skin would make some people uncomfortable. But I never hesitated to engage others in a discussion or a debate.

Now that I have my own family, I encourage debate with my children by taking a stance on some political or philosophical issue and making counterpoints just to be provocative. Not for the sake of disagreeing, but rather as a way to encourage my family to examine and appreciate a multitude of viewpoints.

This attitude carries over into my professional life, where I’m willing to work with the best ideas from wherever they might arise. Sometimes, I challenge our teams on their thinking even though I am in agreement with them, to pressure-test the ideas and so that we hear diverse perspectives. This usually leads to achieving results that are sustainable and leave an impact.

Working with our patients as a part of my job inspires me a lot. Many of them have significant health challenges, and yet are very resilient and determined. If you are having a difficult day, hearing their stories helps you become more optimistic and positive.