Winners of Next100 awards in the past years have been winning in their real professional lives too!
Winners of Next100 awards in the past years have been winning in their real professional lives, too, and moving up the career ladder while learning the nuances of the trade to justify their new roles
The third edition of the Next100 Awards has just concluded. As in all disciplines, the IT industry too falls back on the experiences and the path that seniors have led before. The winners in the past have been role models for many aspiring CIOs. ITNext tried to track the past winners to understand their journey after winning the Next100 award and have them share their experiences with the new winners. It is interesting to note that nearly 50 per cent, on an average, have moved up the value chain and adorned senior positions within their existing companies or outside. Some winners have even changed their vertical domain and are moving ahead with confidence. A glimpse into how the journey for these past winners has been, the new challenges, the new skills imbibed and the new mandates they carry that can set an example to aspiring CIOs:
- Nitin Parmar, Sr GM-IT, Welspun Group (2011)
Could Strategise a 3-year IT Road Map
The journey for Nitin Parmar, after the Next100 awards, has been very exciting as he moved up the career to adorn the role of Senior GM-IT of the group from his earlier role of DGM-Systems. The challenges that Parmar faced as he moved up the value chain have been regarding understanding the new business domain, stabilisation of SAP and infrastructure issues, and broader business challenges revolving around IT solutions. What is most fascinating for him is to spot and drive certain specific initiatives which helped him cross various roadblocks in reaching the senior position. Amongst many initiatives, the key ones, according to Parmar, have been to identify the top priorities and strategise a 3-year IT road map for the organisation revolving around infrastructure, security and application enhancement, and also taking a meticulous approach towards setting up a data centre and disaster recovery infrastructure. As any growth comes with huge responsibilities,, Parmar too was given the mandate to stabilise the IT scenario, address the challenges, and plan the future strategy which would help in business growth. The obvious important steps for him was to get an insight into understanding the business domain in greater detail, understand the business need, business plans and growth strategy and think of integrating all these with IT.
The first lesson he learnt was to accept that the CIO had to become a business analyst and discard the IT cap, initiate interactions with leaders, attend leadership seminars and take the onus for various aspects and build the best applications to support business needs.
- Amit Phadke Vice President - Systems & Technology, Accelya Kale Solutions Ltd (2010)
Mapped Each Business Goal with Performance
The journey after Next100 award for Amit Phadke has had its inherent challenges as he had to strike a logical balance between operational and business goals and manage it effectively. It would not be an exaggeration to say that Phadke moved up to the current role from being a Head-Systems and Technology in the organisation through absolute focus and hard work. Phadke picked up the nuances of the business as part of his agenda for growth, drove specific initiatives to align the technology to business, and mapped each business goal with the operational performance area. He had a stringent mandate: to streamline the operations by setting up the right processes against the limited budget provided by the company. Another critical task on Phadkes radar was to take governance and compliance into account before strategising any IT operation.
The Next100 awards had set the tone for this winner to get clued into business aspects and the need to take appropriate steps. Phadke rolled out certain steps to understand the information flow, get clarity with regard to the gaps in technology delivery to meet business expectations and optimise the business processes as per the need to bridge these gaps.
Another key initiative that he took was to collaborate more frequently with the business team and other functional heads to understand their expectations from technology. The interesting phase was that as the IT head, Phadke encouraged his team to ask more questions of the teams for specific areas of improvement. Phadke is clued into leadership lessons and believes that leadership is all about experience and confidence. He avers that one may sharpen leadership capabilities as part of the growth journey and keep learning from role models.
For Phadke, effective moves to drive success, as head of IT, have been to pinpoint pain areas, work with standard tested proven solutions most of the time rather than try new or cheaper options all the time, move towards tighter SLA with service providers, define the scope and expectations loud and clear, and link rewards and penalties with performance.
- Keyur Desai AVP-IT,Infrastructure & Projects Group, Aegis Limited (2011)
Empowering the Team to Handle Projects
The journey after Next100 for Keyur Desai has invariably prompted the top management to set higher expectations for him, as he moved up the value chain from being the Project Manager of IT infrastructure of the group. Obviously, the expectations of the management increased and they were focused on core strategy planning, deriving the technology road map for the Essar Group and evaluating the current assets. This was also an indication for him to move from the current project management responsibilities and make a paradigm shift to the new role and responsibilities.
Desai had by then learnt the art of possessing new skills and hence focused on communication skills, strived for learning and understanding new technologies, paid attention to team management and also to create leaders within the team, which was the biggest key to success. The new role came with new dimensions and responsibilities as one of the mandates given to Desai was that the next line in his team should be made ready to lead all current projects independently. Although a mandate, it was easy for him to adhere to it since he always believed in empowering a team anyway and train them to possess adequate authority to take critical decisions on their own. The mandate helped him to nurture them with a more focused approach.
He increased his interactions with CIOs across the industry and their respective teams to understand the business process and their pain points. This gave him a lot of insights about IT requirements which helped him in converting into business case with tangible benefits and improved user satisfaction. To improve the health of IT, he started focusing on standardisation, consolidation, integration, and penetration and assessment of IT assets. This helped him have a focused approach in the decision making while preparing the strategy and road map for the technology solutions for the Essar Group.
- Ravish Jhala, Corporate Head-IT, The Leela Palaces and Resorts (2010)
Building Leaders to Create Ones Growth
Ravish Jhala doesnt hesitate to mention that the Next100 award and the accompanying recognition is the feather in the cap which has helped him immensely to thrive in the industry and boosted his confidence to handle the next level responsibilities at the new workplace. Jhala has just moved to this new role after a long stint at The Oberoi Hotels and Resorts as Information Systems Manager.
Obviously, the journey had itschallenges, which required him to possess new skills--that of becoming an extrovert with business skills. The transition was to move from a person influencing the bosses to the one who has to take a call and implement technology. Building his self confidence and enhancing capabilities to inspire and be inspired by others was a definite art that he learnt. The vital trait that Jhala picked up was to build leaders in the team and create a growth path which helped him in defining his own career growth. Besides extending support, he took special care to take the onus for areas like sales and marketing, finance, revenue management, security, HR and training. He consciously laid his hands on reading more business and leadership related books, and not to pick up those on IT, which had been his practice.
In an effort to understand the role better, Jhala changed into a techno-business leader to provide consultancy within the company and learnt the maximum he could from others. He has worked to save or earn every rupee for the company. Jhala believes that flexibility, hard work, humility and understanding users needs were key to his success in building strong relationships with business users. While mastering the art of leadership and team collaboration, Jhala followed a simple rule of on-time service delivery to users and information flow in real time to business users.
- Jatinder Agarwal,Group Manager, HCL Technologies (2010)
Cost, Quality and Timeliness
Jatinder Aggarwal is more confident and evolved after the Next100 awards, and now manages stakeholders expectations in terms of cost, quality and timeliness very effectively. His constant effort has been to drive more value-additions to customers that will differentiate from the competition. Aggarwal seems to have got several promotions, the last stint being that of Manager. His mandate as the group head is also to manage talented employees and keep them motivated and rewarded.
Value-add, knowledge repository, re-usable components are some of the possible ways to achieve success, says Aggarwal. Aggarwal managed more refined discussions with client organisations and sponsors about their high-end requirements, while making suggestions in architectural changes.
For him, defining leadership is not an easy thing, and he is not sure if it is an inborn quality or is acquired over time. However, he leads the team effectively, is honest to himself and also encourages the teams to be so. He believes in expanding the knowledge base, improving communications skills and creating a positive environment. The health of IT is the maturity of the process that he follows, and he ensures that he chooses the right process, most suitable for the situation.
Aggarwal finds that the Next100 award has given him unmatched confidence, helped him in better performance, with greater recognition in his social circle. He says that the Next100 award was indeed a life changing initiative.
- Naresh Pathak ,Head-IT, Promed Exports Pvt. Ltd.(2011)
Trusted Advisor to Clients
For Pathak, the journey from being the Senior Manager, IT, to becoming the Head-IT, has been fascinating. He has scaled up to head IT in a different pharmaceutical vertical, having spent nearly 13 years in the chemical domain. The challenges before him had been to align the basic building blocks in the infrastructure, which were completely out of gear, and to roll out a robust IT strategy. This was possible for Pathak only because of peer interactions and interactions with CIOs periodically. Some of the tasks he performed were to think strategically, take a business approach irrespective of whether it was infrastructure, security or ERP. He developed key partnerships, within the organisation and outside, and built the resources necessary.
Pathak developed the ability to act as a relationship manager and has become a trusted advisor for his internal and external consumers. The definitive mandate for him was to provide a business-enabled IT environment. He applied the skills he acquired to the strategic goals planned for 2011-12 and 2012-13. His team has been able to deliver all projects related to various technologies. Pathak advocates that there are more or less similar roles of technology in any organisation but the difference lies in how one applies it in the business domain to fetch business outcome; that is, getting the competitive advantage, improving efficiency and productivity, bringing innovation in day-to-day work, helping the organisation get more business and providing BI and analytics tools, on time and accurate data availability, video collaboration, etc. He has applied new technologies to achieve a few goals and will continue to do more in the coming years. The fundamental task for him was to improve the health of IT by improved security architecture, introducing scalable architecture, enhancing service delivery, stringent methods of working out an effective RoI and so on.
The biggest achievement post the Next100 awards, according to him, was the recognition within the organisation and the industry and bagging a promotion.