Work and Money
Pritha Mehra Is Driving the Future of Mail Technology
Ever wonder how the post office knows if the weight on your prepaid package is accurate? There’s technology for that, and it was developed by one of the United States Postal Service’s (USPS) central female figures — Pritha Mehra. Mehra understands that analog postal services are still very relevant in today’s world. But it’s up to her to keep the USPS up to date with changing technologies, and to develop strategies for the future of our mail system.
Mehra — who was named vice president of Information Technology in July 2019 — emigrated from India to America when she was a young girl. She studied computer science in college and got her MBA from Georgetown University. While she attributes much of her success to her hard work, dedication, and unbreakable focus, she is thankful for the opportunities she got in the United States.
“My status as a woman was less important than the value I could bring to the goals I built up for the places I worked,” she told CircleAround. “I might not have had that same freedom if I had remained in India.”
In 1990, Mehra was hired by the USPS as a software developer in engineering, and some of her first projects focused on developing applications to automate point-of-service systems and processes. That sort of technology allows businesses to process customer payments for products; whenever you purchase stamps, send something by certified mail, or grab a tracking number for your package, Mehra has likely helped develop part of that process. She’s also been integral in the automation of revenue assurance models, such as the Automated Postage Verification system, which was designed to verify if a package is using the correct postage amount by checking package weight, box size, and more.
Snail Mail 2.0
Mehra won an award for her work in 2007 and was profiled in Women Worth Watching. She told the publication, “Whether it is devising strategic program direction for the U.S. Postal Service or teaching Indian cooking, I always try to provoke, enlighten, and engage all at once; moving beyond the stereotypes that limit our vision and ability to change for the better.”
Today, she’s overseeing USPS computer operations, IT applications and solutions development, enterprise network, access and IT performance management groups. While technical, her work is based around ensuring the USPS is as progressive and innovative as possible. She tells CircleAround that she’s working with others at the USPS to develop “innovative, secure, capability-driven technology solutions that drive business value.” She is also in charge of promoting the Postal Service’s employee Office Workplace Modernization Program so the staff is as up to date on the latest technology as their customers.
Snail mail might not be the mainstream communication method anymore, but that’s because the USPS is adapting to the changing times. Mehra’s story is part of a new generation of postal system staff, ensuring the way we think about mail goes beyond a stamped envelope.