Natarajan´s Journey: 18 years at Vestas


Reflecting on his 18-year journey with Vestas, Natarajan Sethuramalingam rose from a Wind & Site engineer to the Global Head of Remote Operations Centers. His move to Melbourne in 2010 and return to India in 2012 enhanced his cultural and leadership skills. Today, he fosters openness and cross-cultural collaboration, exemplifying the values that have defined his career.

Natarajan Sethuramalingam's journey began at NEG Micon in 2006, a company later later acquired by Vestas, where he started as a Wind & Site engineer in India. Here his role involved installing meteorological towers across the country, igniting his passion for wind energy. His early responsibilities at Vestas included wind data analysis and site assessments - critical tasks laid the groundwork for his future endeavors.

In 2010, Natarajan embraced a new opportunity by transferring from his home country India to Melbourne, Australia. The two years he spent in Vestas Australia not only exposed him to new technical challenges but also required adapting to a different cultural environment. This cultural exposure, which Natarajan describes as a gift, helped him gain an understanding of cultural sensitivity and collaboration—skills that would become central to his leadership approach later in his Vestas journey. Natarajan emphasizes the importance of the support from his colleagues and the cross-cultural training for him understanding the cultural differences and making him feel welcome. During this time, Natarajan utilized his Indian and Australian cultural experience, helping with communication between the two, APAC and Australia, bridging cultural and operational gaps between regions. Natarajan explains how his role during the integration of Asia Pacific operations broadened his perspective and reinforced his aspiration to become a leader.

"I am grateful to my colleagues who welcomed me warmly and supported me during my first few months in Melbourne. Their help, along with cross-cultural training, was invaluable in helping me understand and navigate a new culture."  

After his two years in Australia, Natarajan returned to India in 2012 to pursue his aspiration of becoming a people leader, working as Assistant Manager for Wind & Site. Shortly thereafter, he moved on to become Manager for Wind & Site Global Support. In Chennai, India, Natarajan helped centralize Wind & Site functions amidst a challenging financial period for Vestas. Where he was asked with building a team from scratch, he encountered a challenge that many new leaders face – the difficulty of letting go of control and fully empowering the team to work independently. Through open discussions with his team, Natarajan realized his mistakes and started focusing on trusting his colleagues and creating an environment of collaboration and dedication.  He emphasizes the importance of transparency and continuous learning, sharing his journey as a first-time people leader and learning from his team and colleagues. 

"In my 18 years at Vestas, I've learned that openness and asking for help are key to support. This company thrives on mutual support, not hiding mistakes. We all make mistakes, but it's crucial to acknowledge, learn from them, and move forward.” 

Three years later, Natarajan pursued new challenges transitioning to Vestas' Global Service, taking on the responsibility of establishing a dedicated wind site function for after-sales support. Faced with a substantial backlog of technical assessments, he and his team effectively communicated with stakeholders and built a team that met and ultimately exceeded expectations. 

Since August-2021, Natarajan has served as the Global Head of Remote Operations Centers, overseeing 24/7 operations crucial to Vestas' service regions. Here he leverages his extensive experience across various roles and regions to handle and understand cultural differences, ensuring smooth operations globally.

Reflecting on his 18 years at Vestas, Natarajan emphasizes the factors that have pushed him forward: working with passion, maintaining a willingness to learn, understanding different cultures, and building resilience. He points out that progress comes from creating an environment where team members feel supported and empowered, fostering a culture of openness and continuous learning.

"Understand what excites you and align your career goals accordingly. Embrace challenges head-on, be transparent, and collaborate effectively."

By Simon Slebsager