Ever think about the bigger picture, the “why” behind what you do? At Octo, this is a question we’ve asked ourselves. What we came up with is Seva—serving a greater purpose. It’s one of Octo’s core values.
Seva is visible in the ways our employees find purpose in serving the missions of the Federal Government. It is also apparent in our corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy to serve vulnerable communities and advance food security, technology education, and health outcomes.
Today, we feature an employee who embodies that core value. Meet Nandita Theraja who has been with Octo for three years, is an avid volunteer, and who, since childhood, has been bringing resiliency, compassion, and smiles to those in need.
Nandita, thank you for interviewing with us. How would you describe your career?
As a Scrum Lead/Technical Project Manager, my career has been a journey. From starting as a developer in healthcare projects with the states of Kentucky and Michigan to more recently working on federal projects for HHS/CMS, I have developed and managed projects for public facing websites like medicare.gov, HHS.gov, and mymedicare.gov. As a technical architect and lead, I managed a diverse team of 27 members, 14 of whom are direct reports. And as a technical architect, I worked closely with stakeholders, business leads, and data vendors on the federal side. Present day, I am working with USCIS on a mission as a Technical PM on the PLANXS team. It’s rewarding and brings different insights, being on the other side of the Immigration journey of lot of people.
We understand you volunteer quite a bit outside of work. What organizations do you support?
I volunteer with the local temple, Dulles South Food Pantry, Girls Scouts, our elementary and middle school PTAs, and Fairfax Food for Title 1 Schools. I also try to volunteer for whatever I can as part of Octo’s initiatives.
What led you to volunteer/serve in the ways you do now?
My journey of volunteering started as a kid in India when I would go with my family to donate raw food items to an old age home for women who were moved out of their homes. These women were moved there because they were either widows or their kids didn’t want to take responsibility for them. This became our family tradition on our grandfather’s death anniversary and his birthday—to serve these old women in need. I remember as we would walk into the old age home, some of the ladies’ faces would brighten up. I remember how it made me feel. We at home kept this tradition when my father-in-law passed away. My girls would accompany me to buy and then donate to the local temple or Dulles food pantry.
When I started my corporate journey back in the early 2000s back home in India, giving back to society was one of our core values. We would spend the entire day with kids in juvenile custody. It would be a day of games, mentoring, hearing their stories, and serving them food. It was satisfying, but it also was an awakening, as it gave us exposure to the pain in the eyes of these kids.
To this day, I am grateful to my loving family for building gratitude in us and exposing us to the world early in life, enabling us to serve and bring a smile to someone’s face.
How has Octo encouraged your volunteer/giving-back efforts?
Octo has inspired me in many ways, especially when it comes to serving underprivileged people and kids—they take my heart away, and I feel like there is nothing more precious in the world than doing things for them and spending time with them.
What inspires you to keep volunteering even when the going gets tough?
Volunteering is meditative. It brings inner peace and satisfaction, and it makes me feel that somewhere I am touching hearts and that somewhere deep down, I am collecting those wishes and blessings that can be showered on me during my rainy days.
What advice or insight would you provide to anyone at Octo interested in volunteer work?
If there is anything precious in this world, it’s the time you can spare and spend on something outside your normal routine and family. Time is the only thing which, when asked, no one has, and it is always in short supply.
If you can spare one hour of your time giving back to a person in need or touch the hearts of some of the folks around you, then you will see there are so many untold stories, so many dreams. A touch of the heart can heal the world and build gratitude in coming generations, especially in kids. You can bring a smile to someone. And every smile has a story behind it.
Anything else you would like to add?
Working with Girls Scouts with both my girls, one a Brownie about to be a Junior, and the other a Cadette —it’s a different feeling. The organization does so much good. If we can nurture these girls and build their confidence, teach them to stand up for each other, and we do not let them down, we can build resilience and compassion along with leadership qualities in young women.
Because I believe in this strongly, I would like to next get involved with women in technology and also serve women in the fight against domestic abuse. That would be my next endeavor, serving society at two different levels.
About Octo’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Program
Octo’s CSR program exists to serve vulnerable communities and advance food security, technology education, and health outcomes. Through meaningful engagement, Octo employees align their passion with purposeful opportunities that create community solutions. Whether it’s providing technology training to children and young adults, volunteering to support transitioning service members, serving meals to the hungry, or something else, we operate with a service-first mentality. Interested in working for a company that cares? Visit Octo’s Careers page and explore opportunities now.