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Life at Rang De - Swati Agarwal, VP of Technology

In this blog post, we cover the inspiring journey of Swati Agarwal, Vice President of Technology at Rang De. Swati's journey to her current role at Rang De is a testament to her passion for learning, her dedication to making a difference, and her unwavering belief in Rang De's mission.

Tell us about your early days and how it shaped you.

I belong to Bareilly, a small city in Uttar Pradesh. I was decent in my studies and had good analytical skills. So I decided to go ahead with engineering and completed B. Tech from MNNIT, Allahabad.

While growing up I was an avid cricket fan and loved playing various sports during my college days. I love to travel and explore new places as it helps me understand and respect different perspectives and focus on what really matters.

I am a Mechanical Engineer, but ended up joining Cognizant via campus placement where my coding journey and life as a software developer began. As I am always open to learning and exploring new things, transitioning from being a Mechanical Engineer to a Software Developer wasn't difficult and I started enjoying programming.

What’s your work background and how you ended up in your role at Rang De?

I started my coding journey with Cognizant Technology Solutions. I worked with Genpact and Capgemini before taking a sabbatical.

Back in 2008, I had to make a tough decision, choose my job or my newborn. I chose the latter.

Five years later, I got a fantastic opportunity to join Rang De. I had heard of Rang De through a friend and the innovative idea of funding loans for the lower income rural entrepreneurs excited me. As I was new to the development sector, I was a bit apprehensive about joining an organisation with a social mission.

But during my first meeting with Ram, he said one thing that struck me - Rang De will always be true to its mission of financial inclusion in India, and that is non-negotiable! The way he said it, some magic happened and all my doubts were put to rest. I instantly felt that this is a genuine organisation and it will be my biggest folly if I miss this chance.

How has your experience been so far? Tell us what stands out for you.

I have seen Rang De grow to a 40-member team. It is very heartwarming to see more people, even youngsters joining Rang De and looking at the social sector from a different lens. The perception is changing and that too for good.

Working in a startup has so many advantages, you get to work in a challenging environment, your opinion matters, you get diverse responsibilities and the list goes on. To top it all, it is gratifying to see the impact our work creates in the life of so many individuals. Some of my friends still can't believe working in the social sector can be a career choice.

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

Can you walk us through a typical day in your role at Rang De?

I start the day off by checking my emails. After that, I’ve daily morning catch-up calls, where we together as a team go through all our metrics, and discuss progress & blockers. I then look over my to-do list and get started on the stories that are at the top of my priority list.

In between I have multiple calls with my teammates where we discuss certain requirements. Also if there are any ad hoc issues or requirements that need immediate attention, we brainstorm on them and resolve them on priority. Sometimes I wear the hat of a programmer, sometimes a business analyst, or sometimes a firefighter. I find that this blend of programming, problem-solving, and resolving issues with out-of-the-box ideas challenges me every day and helps me stay interested in what I do.

How does your role contribute to Rang De's mission and values? I have been with Rang De for a decade now and our entire platform is enabled by Technology. After people, the second most important thing that keeps us going is technology.

I take care of the day-to-day operations of managing the team along with my colleague Sunil. With my long stint at Rang De, I have acquired good domain knowledge and that helps me while developing new products. We at Rang De practise a growth mindset for delivering innovative features to improve the user experience of our borrowers as well as social investors.

Could you share a specific challenge you remember and how your team overcame it?

Life at Rang De is about being challenged every day. More often than not we have a hitch that has to be solved in the most quick and efficient manner.

An example of a bigger challenge though is when back in 2018, RBI regularised the P2P lending space in India and took it under their purview, it was good news as the sector was getting regulated, but it brought too many challenges for us.

There was a long list of compliance and security requirements. To start operating again we had one year to get a brand new platform ready and apply for a NBFC P2P licence. The entire team at Rang De worked relentlessly and finally, we were granted a licence in Aug 2018. I can never forget that day!

What are some lessons you learnt while working with Rang De?

At Rang De, we believe in valuing each other and gratitude is an important value that all of us

display. I learnt to focus on what's good in our lives and be thankful for the things we have.

“If everyone waited for someone else to do something, nothing would ever be done” Had Ram & Smita waited for someone else to walk on this difficult path, Rang De wouldn't have enabled so many fellow Indians to become self-sufficient.

I hope that everyone in India appreciates the change that Rang De is working for. I would like Social Investing to be a part of people’s portfolios and Rang De to become a household name in India. All this can help us achieve a financially inclusive India.

(In this Life At Rang De series, our endeavour is to highlight the amazing people that makeup team Rang De. You can check out our blog for more updates on and from the team)

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