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Employee Spotlight: Malar Nataraja
In a world where titles define us, Malar Nataraja shines.
She is an author, teacher, mother, leader, classical dancer, poet, college athlete, biker, immigrant, volunteer… and the list goes on! Any number of these things could tie into here role at Vista Outdoor, so you might be surprised to learn she works as an IT SAP FICO (Finance and Controlling) Lead at Vista Outdoor.
She leads and supports IT related projects for the Action Sports Business Financial group, working on day-to-day SAP IT production support, month-end, quarter-end and year-end closing, financial budget loads, financial interfaces and new enhancements.
Malar grew up in Chennai, South India, and immigrated to the U.S. three decades ago. She completed her management degree and became a U.S. citizen in 2015, settling in St. Paul, MN. She has been working in IT for 20 years, four of which have been with Vista Outdoor. She enjoys running several new SAP IT financial projects.
“I enjoy working with several technical, third-party business groups to make a project successful,” she said. Malar works across teams and with an offshore team as well – one of her biggest interests.
While she lists becoming an SAP Solution Architect as one of her greatest accomplishments, she has other desires in her life outside of work.
“My dream was to write novels,” Malar explained.
Malar has been writing novels since 11th grade, penning over 50 romantic novels in her native language, Tamil. She has published six of her books and has a fan base for her writing. University students have used Malar’s novels for research papers.
She published an English novel, “Atlantic Affection.” This novel is based on the true love and affection of two young souls. The story follows their student life in the U.S. They fall in love irrespective of their social and cultural differences.
Aside from her novels, Malar writes poems, short stories, dramas, and social articles and presents them on stage as part of Tamil Organizational Programs she is involved in throughout the U.S. She also was the editor of Tamil Magazine in the Washington, D.C. area and did radio programs in Virginia and California.
Malar is the founder and creator of a free Tamil School, where she taught young children her native language. To further her reach, Malar volunteers and has donated more than 500 books to village schools and colleges in India in the past two years.
“I am part of several volunteer projects, including Adopt-A-Village schools to provide science equipment, history materials and tables and chairs for classrooms. I sponsor poor young children in India to bring them to Master level of education and am sponsoring poor girls to provide career-oriented courses to support their lives,” she explained.
Her own son is no exception to that story. As a single mother, Malar says she feels very accomplished to have raised her son who went on to get his education at the University of Purdue, graduate and settle in good job.
Her favorite things to do with her son? Visit the Art Institute and Historical Museum to learn of arts and histories, and travel to historical places and landmarks. She also enjoys cooking, and – naturally – teaching friends to cook, as well.
“Women Who Run with the Wolves” by Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Ph.D.
Most likely to buy in bulk?
Monk Fruit in the Raw – Zero Calorie Sugar Substitute Sweetener
If you could “kill a word,” what word would you do away with?
I want to kill “Fear.” I don’t want to be afraid in my life. I want to be a brave person.
What would a day off, by yourself, with no obligations look like?
My day off may include, writing novel/reading book/cooking and working in my vegetable and flower garden. And long walk by the lake.
Who would you like to swap places with for a day?
I’d swap with my favorite actress, Julia Roberts.
Accomplishment you’re most proud of that you’ve taken on since COVID?
Working from home, I’ve put more hours in and have exceeded expectations for my role and responsibilities at work. I read 3rd century historical novels to distract from stressing about COVID.
What does a person need to be happy in your opinion?
Create the life you imagine. Happiness is within us. Being a good-hearted person and enjoy your life. Inner beauty is outer beauty. Be thankful for God’s blessings and appreciate what you have. Eat healthy and exercise to be fit. Be true to you and others. Be with good thoughts and good friends.
Most interesting job you’ve had?
My most interesting job to review Tamil language thesis for research students. And I enjoy teaching my native language to younger children.