Rangam’s Hetal Parikh Helps Talent of All Kinds

rangamHetal Parikh built a business based on the idea that employment should be inclusive and accessible for everyone. Today, she and her company are thriving doing just that. Born in Vadodara, Gujarat, India, and raised in Hoboken, N.J., her entrepreneurial journey began in 1995 when she co-founded Rangam, a talent network that also addresses the needs of the disabled, with her husband, Nish Parikh. SEEMA spoke to Parikh to learn more about the work she and her colleagues at Rangam do to incorporate all types of employees in the workplace.

How and why did you start your business?

Nish and I had two goals: We wanted to connect people to jobs and also improve how mental health is managed in schools, homes, and workplaces. Working on the first goal was much easier than even coming to grips with the second’s complexities. Nevertheless, Rangam started serving the information technology (IT) industry with enterprise tools and provided highly skilled talent for its clients’ various technology projects. Mostly, we were committed to not giving up on our second goal.

Rangam’s growing workforce expertise opened new doors, even in adverse circumstances. The team focused on building modern technologies for data collection and establishing ISO standards to get business from tightly regulated industries. Since then, Rangam has successfully expanded its footprint across North America, Europe, and Asia.

Was there anyone who inspired you – or was an advisor or mentor?

I was fortunate to be born and brought up in a family that encouraged me to give up the safety net of a 9-to-5 job. Even after marriage, my husband supported me at every step of my entrepreneurial journey. In addition, working with Johnson & Johnson early in my career inspired me to start my own business with a people-centric approach and foundation.

I read that you and Nish are “engineers-turned-social entrepreneurs.” What was your career path like at first as an engineer, and how does that tie in to your current work?

I began my career as a project manager for Apprise Insurance Services before taking up a consulting job with Lucent Technologies Bell Labs. But it was my time at Johnson & Johnson that set the tone for my career as an entrepreneur. At J&J, I learned the enduring values of building authentic relationships and truly understanding your customers’ needs. I knew that empathy is just as important as any other traditional business metric.

Both Nish and I were fascinated by the people-centric business model of Johnson & Johnson. We wanted to start a business that would create employment opportunities for contingent workers while supporting women and minority business owners, veterans, and individuals with autism and disabilities. Coming from an engineering background, we were able to quickly leverage the latest and greatest technologies to develop Rangam’s early products and services.

What is your role at Rangam?

I am the founder and president of Rangam Consultants, Inc, which is a minority, woman, and disability-owned workforce solutions company.

What is Rangam’s mission statement, and who does it help?

Our philosophy of “Empathy Drives Innovation” influences everything we do. We specialize in attracting and retaining talent globally for professional information technology, engineering, scientific, clinical, healthcare, administrative, finance, and business categories while integrating veterans and individuals with autism and disabilities into the workforce.

The work that Rangam does impacts the lives of an incalculable number of people every day. We have an inclusive and empathy-driven culture that inspires innovation and collaboration both within and outside the organization. Today, Rangam is what it is because of the people we work with and for. Our people take pride in what they do to support our mission of finding “Employment for Everyone.”

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Hetal Parikh with Nish, her husband and co-founder of Rangam Consultants Inc (image courtesy of rangam.com)

What are some past accomplishments you are proud of, and what keeps you inspired today?

You know your time has come when you start seeing the light at the tunnel’s end. This is precisely what I felt when Rangam’s technology subsidiary, WebTeam Corporation (currently doing business as ‘Rangam Technologies’), was awarded $500,000 in Verizon’s Powerful Answers Award contest in 2013. WebTeam was recognized for conceptualizing an integrated solution for autism management.

Not only did we receive the much-needed funding to sustain our work for individuals with autism and other disabilities, but we also went on to form successful partnerships and alliances with leading autism advocacy organizations, service providers, and disability-friendly businesses. Many of those relationships have translated into opportunities for Rangam to carry out its mission of connecting untapped talent to corporations.

There is nothing more inspiring than seeing SourceAbled, Rangam’s technology-enabled disability inclusion program, grow and succeed on a national level. Launched in 2017, SourceAbled connects corporations to the autism and disability community through a revolutionary combination of technology and collaboration. It provides a clear roadmap for disability-friendly organizations to hire, train, and retain untapped talent across industries and job roles.

The SourceAbled program and technology platform has been well-received by companies like JP Morgan Chase & Co., Accenture, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Comcast, and Johnson & Johnson. In addition, a major Ivy League university’s IT department is in the process of implementing SourceAbled for a research project on neurodiversity in the workplace.

Are there any aspects of South Asian culture that have influenced you in your career or life?

The South Asian culture is more family- and community-oriented than the North American culture. Even though my parents migrated to the United States when I was very young, I never lost touch with my roots and the values that run deep in the South Asian culture.

Throughout my entrepreneurial journey and life, I have carried that cultural legacy to care for one another, listen to understand and not merely respond, and build a team that treats everyone as a family member. Being a daughter, wife, and mother, I see my family as the glue that binds the values on which I base my business.

What’s next for you and your company?

Our short-term goal is to bring essential workers back to work in a way that is safe and compliant with government directives and advisories. We have already activated our business continuity plan (BCP) to minimize service disruption for clients and customers while safely redeploying consultants who have been furloughed or laid off.

Our long-term goal is to prepare for any eventualities in the future. With the workforce consisting of five generations, the staffing industry is impacted in many ways due to something as far-reaching and complex as a global public health crisis. Following the coronavirus outbreak, our teams pivoted to build the technology to quickly respond and adapt to unpredictable and rapidly changing environments. We want the workforce to enter into new markets, but not at the cost of giving up their socio-economic standing and sustainable career goals.

While hiring has slowed down due to Covid, Rangam continues to rise in the industry, thanks to our holistic approach of delving into untapped talent pools that are truly diverse, loyal, and productive. We strive to build an innovative workforce that hiring managers we love to work with. We know how important it is to screen talent for true abilities rather than screen for perceived disabilities. The new normal has made it clear that today’s diverse workforce needs a level-playing field to make meaningful contributions across sectors.

What advice would you offer to young people, especially girls, seeking STEM careers?

I am passionate about mentoring young people in STEM and providing a platform to demonstrate their innovative and entrepreneurial potential to the world. For example, in 2017, Rangam hosted the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s Undergraduate Research and Innovation (URI) Student Expo at its Somerset office. Over 20 of NJIT’s brightest students showcased their work in new ideas, products, designs, and services.

For girls seeking STEM careers, my advice would be not to compare yourself to anyone and always stay true to YOU. Every individual is uniquely motivated to pursue their dreams. It is essential to be able to find your primary purpose in life. Once you find it, you will automatically have a passion around it. Women usually juggle multiple roles at home and work, so be sure to surround yourself with positive and supportive people to seek balance.

What do you do for yourself? How do you balance work and home life?

I enjoy dancing and yoga, and love adventure sports like bungee jumping, skydiving, and scuba diving. Over the past six months, the definition of work-life balance has changed a lot as technology has assumed greater control over our regular workdays. In times like these, people need motivation and a sense of purpose to continue switching between work, family life, and the various obstacles and disruptions that come with each. I like to let my day flow naturally.