AAPI Employee Spotlight: Jeevan Kumar Ramakrishna
To celebrate Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Zynga has been spotlighting some of our incredible AAPI-identifying employees throughout May. We recognize the important influence that the AAPI community has had on the history, culture, and achievements of our organization and the world, and are honored to be sharing employees’ stories.
We are celebrating up our month of celebrations with a spotlight on Jeevan Kumar Ramakrishna, our Director of Data Analytics based in San Francisco, USA.
Tell us a little bit about your background, culture, and career.
I was born and brought up in Bangalore, in a South-Indian nuclear family. Grew up with a passion for comics and computers, I recall getting yelled at for infecting our home computer with viruses an killing the hard-drive by formatting it too many times. Naturally, i wanted to be a computer engineer, and ended up working for Oracle in my first job. I stumbled into data science when a friend asked me to checkout this cool new field. By a twist of fate, the data science consulting company i was working for moved me to US, and since the past 6 years, i have focussed on applying data science within gaming and performance marketing. Initially at Machine Zone, where i led the marketing analytics & data science team. And, currently at Zynga. My life has been several happy accidents and mini-careers.
What is your current role and responsibilities at Zynga?
Last year, I got an opportunity to found Zynga’s in-house Demand Side Platform that bids directly on ad-exchanges, and reduces the no. of intermediaries, hence acquiring users for a fraction of the cost. As a continuation of that role, I’m currently on secondment to Chartboost to lead and expand the analytics function supporting Product, Operations and Sales.
Tell us about joining ZAPI (Zynga Asians & Pacific Islanders) and what the employee resource group means to you?
ZAPI is an especially fun way to get to know your colleagues outside of a work environment. Also, among the resource groups, it is ranked undisputedly #1 based on the deliciousness of snacks cooked and recipes shared.
What does Asian Heritage Month mean to you?
Asians, similar to other minority groups, are often underrepresented in our societies centers of power and leadership. Highlighting and showcasing achievers, and culture hopefully creates role models for the future generation to emulate.
Do you have an inspirational figure in your life? Who are they and how have they helped you along on your journey?
Rahul Dravid, currently the coach and previously a batsman for the Indian Cricket Team, is an astonishingly humble stellar cricketer. He once batted for two full days in 110+F heat to save and win a cricket test match. I always remind myself that if doing that was possible, anything that I am trying to do is not impossible. Another recent inspiration is Jurgen Klopp, the current manager for Liverpool FC; when once faced with an unwinnable match against Barcelona FC, he implored the team with, “That is the plan: just try. If we can do it, wonderful. If not, then fail in the most beautiful way.”, which resulted in a historic win for the team. That is what I want to do to achieve my goals, just try.
What was the best advice you ever received in life or career?
Don’t break the laws, but, break the rules. Scott McNealy.
Looking back at previous experiences, what makes Zynga stand out the most?
Zynga has given me freedom and opportunities that I could not have imagined. I got to lead large data science teams, create multiple teams from scratch, numerous leaders have entrusted me with drafting and executing parts of Zynga’s ad-tech strategy leading to unambiguous business impact. Am grateful for the opportunity.
What’s a personal favorite of yours that you wish to share with the world? (This could be a game, book, food, quote, or more)
I am a Biryani Connoisseur. I love cooking and eating numerous types of Biryanis. What is a Biryani? Well, it is a delicious amalgamation of rice, meat, and spices. If you haven’t tried a freshly cooked Hyderabadi Murgh Dum Biryani, you have not lived yet. I also like to make and build things, my most recent build is an earthen oven (Tandoor) using clay pots from Home Depot.