Andy Ramamoorthy grew up in Mumbai, India, and originally planned to be an engineer. An itch to see the world led to a change in direction – he made his way to the U.S. for grad school and ended up joining Capital One shortly after graduation.
In the more than 19 years Andy has spent at Capital One, he has been active in shaping the company’s diversity and inclusion efforts, including by leading its business resource group, OUTFront.
“I was still in the closet during my first few years at the company, and I came out at work at the urging of a supportive manager,” he wrote. “I saw a difference in my effectiveness as a member of the team and a leader.”
Andy also serves on the board of directors for Equality Virginia, a non-partisan advocacy, outreach and education organization seeking equality for LGBT+ Virginians.
Please describe how and when you first knew you were LGBT+:
My earliest memory of realizing that I was different than the other boys in school was probably in fourth grade – but I didn’t quite know what it meant. I consciously knew I was gay by the time I was 15 but gave myself plenty of reasons to comfortably be in denial of my feelings. It wasn’t until my late twenties, living in Washington DC, that I had the courage to come out of the closet. I came out in quick succession to friends, family, and coworkers.
How has coming out influenced your leadership approach and style?
I think being an out professional and an LGBT+ Ally has made me a better leader. There’s an authenticity that comes with living your life and telling your story that makes it easier for people to connect with you.
A lot of LGBT+ people have spent time honing their ability to read people and look for non-verbal clues – a threat, a sign of support, evidence of being judged, and so on. I was no different and developed a sense of intuition that I rely on a lot.
My approach to leadership is informed a lot by that experience. Listen using all your senses, find patterns, speak your mind as a means of encouraging others to do the same, and love/care unconditionally. The rest is mostly noise.
If you could have any job other than the one you have now, it would be:
My fantasy profession is to run a small restaurant on the beach. Nothing too fancy – just a simple place with a view of the ocean where my husband and I cook our favorite meals for vacationers.
The most important thing I have learned from a boss is:
Authenticity and integrity create followership in the long run more than anything else. Success will follow as long as you surround yourself with people who know more than you and work harder than you. Your role, then, is to focus your energy on creating an environment for all to thrive and be valued for who they are.
If I could tell someone who is graduating from college this year one thing I’ve learned, it would be:
The secret to a good life is being open to learning and new experiences. Keep an open mind and push yourself to try your hand at something you think you don’t like to do or are not good at. You may be pleasantly surprised.
The best interview question I have ever heard is:
My favorite is a pretty simple one – “So what do you like to do”? It is open ended and each candidate answers it differently. Some talk about what activities get them energized at work and others talk about hobbies or experiences they loved. The question and the follow-ups help you hear about what makes a person tick, what gets them excited, and what makes them happy.
My most important Ally is:
My dad was my biggest ally. He was my safe space as a kid and my biggest advocate and cheerleader until he passed away a few years ago. My husband, Steve, and my brother, Karthik, are my rocks today.
This person is my LGBT+ hero, because:
Ellen Degeneres. She was successful and had so much to lose – yet had the courage to be out and open. Her coming out pushed the conversation into people’s living rooms and humanized us as a community more than anyone else in the past few decades. And did it all while making people laugh.
The next big step for me in my career could be:
It has to be something that pushes me to learn something new. I’ve helped develop strategy, build products, and run large executive functions. What I haven’t done is run an end-to-end business. That’s likely my next big step.
The three books I would take to a deserted island are:
A Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez: I love the vivid imagery that Marquez weaves.
Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet: the book reveals a new secret to a life well-lived every time I read it.
Malgudi Days by R. K. Narayan: the simplicity of his stories and the settings reminds me of the small town my grandparents lived in.