The saying “timing is everything” has special meaning to Raja Olimuthu. Back in 2009, Raja had the good fortune of working at another company’s trade show booth that just happened to be adjacent to Tecplot’s booth. During the “painfully slow” show, as Raja described it, he struck up a conversation with Tom Chan, who was working at the Tecplot booth. Raja learned that Tecplot was looking to add a sales professional to its team and that Tom, the company’s vice president of customer development, was the hiring manager. A few weeks and several interviews later, Raja found himself moving from Houston to Seattle to begin his new job as a business development representative at Tecplot.
“I still can’t believe how things worked out,” Raja said. “It truly is a case of timing is everything. If I hadn’t been at that show at the same time that Tom was in Tecplot’s booth, I would have never known about the opportunity at Tecplot and my life would have gone in a completely different direction.”
Not that Raja would have had any trouble landing a fantastic job elsewhere. He embodies the highly desired combination of a contagious personality and serious technical chops. The University of Texas alum graduated with a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering. “I’m a social butterfly, and I’m an engineering nerd,” Raja joked, “so being in a technical sales role is a perfect fit for me.”
Family and Music Are Top Priorities
The second of two sons, Raja was born in Houston, where he lived until six years ago when he moved to Seahawks Country. Although his brother lives in California and his parents remain in Houston, Raja said the family places great importance on getting together at least a couple of times each year. “In the last few years, we’ve been lucky enough to see each other at Christmas and Thanksgiving. We’ve even been able to vacation together – last November, we all flew to Hawaii to celebrate my mom’s birthday. It was one of my best vacations ever,” he said with a big grin.
Given his mother’s love of the arts, it’s no surprise that Raja’s favorite hobby is playing music – primarily on the bass guitar. A big fan of the James Brown-style funk music genre, Raja plays for his church band about once a month and, occasionally, jams with local bands during open-mic nights at Seattle-area bars.
His artistic talents extend beyond the guitar strings. Raja recently discovered the art of photography, focusing mainly on nature and people shots. “I didn’t realize how challenging this art-form is,” he admitted.
Lest you think this former Longhorn is all culture and no competition, Raja said he also enjoys a spirited game of basketball or tennis, especially during Seattle’s beautiful summer months.
Given his highly marketable skills and George Clooney-like charisma, you might wonder what keeps Raja tethered to Tecplot. Wonder no more. “There are a few things that have kept me here,” he explained. “First of all, the people are amazing – we truly have an outstanding cast of characters at this company. And I’ve had great mentors, who have helped me grow as a person. Perhaps more important, however, is that I truly believe in the products I sell. I don’t ever have to make claims to customers that I know are false. I can just be myself, and talk about something I’m truly passionate about.”
Oil & Gas Focus ‘Makes Perfect Sense’
About four years ago, Raja’s role at Tecplot shifted slightly. Originally brought on to sell Tecplot software in a specific geographic region, he’s now focused on selling the company’s products exclusively to oil & gas companies no matter where they are located. “My duties are to nurture our existing customers and to find new opportunities for our software,” Raja explained. “Since most of my customers have an acute need for Tecplot RS, our reservoir simulation software, I’ve become a specialist on that product.”
Given Raja’s background in petroleum engineering, the change made perfect sense. But being Tecplot’s oil & gas sales guy is not without challenges. “Our company and our products are very well known in the aerospace and defense industry,” he said. “But in the oil & gas industry, many engineers do not even know our name. That makes it very difficult to ‘break the ice’ with a new prospect. To that end, I’ll be working closely with our marketing team this year and beyond to help grow awareness of Tecplot in the oil & gas space.”
Challenges aside, Raja quickly pivots to the most rewarding aspects of his job. “The finish line for any good sales person is receiving the purchase order from a customer. There is no better feeling than that,” he said. “And I totally love being on the road, meeting with my customers face-to-face. When I’m sitting at a customer’s desk, and he or she shows me how Tecplot products are making their life easier, it validates that what I do for a living is making an impact in the engineering world. The financial rewards for a job well-done are great, but it’s the relationships I’ve built with these customers over the past four years that make my job truly rewarding.”