What would you describe as your most memorable achievement?
My most memorable achievement has been converting a negative perception of my team into a positive and upbeat one. A few years ago, as part of a significant business deal at a Fortune 500 company, my more than 30 member team faced stiff challenges from senior stakeholders and was at a breaking point. I intervened before it was too late, worked through the problem and arrived at a solution by taking into account the team’s collective wisdom and behaviours. As a cohesive unit, we ensured more that 75 deliverables/outcomes across the globe were delivered seamlessly, with complete transparency to the senior stakeholders. The process resulted in us regaining their trust in a span of a few days. Furthermore, it created fantastic, new ways of working, a sense of belongingness across the team and instilled cultural ethos all around. It has been a while, however, the goodwill this turnaround created is still cited as an exemplar for others to follow in the company.
What first made you think of a career in technology?
It transpired by sheer coincidence. I wanted either to take up medicine or become a professional sports player. However, one of the universities invited me to join their IT course and before I knew it, I started to enjoy being in proximity with technology and the opportunities it presented. This IT enjoyment that started from the nascent stages of my career is continuing and becoming stronger with each passing day. Technology is much more accessible and affordable now than ever before – just look around us, it is omnipresent!
What style of management philosophy do you employ with your current position?
My philosophy is to strike an optimal balance across the board. Whether it is work or family, autonomy or prescribed, remote working or office, team meetings or one-on-one sessions, people or technology, clients or colleagues – I strive to look after my business partners and my fellow colleagues equally well. I believe in unlocking the hidden potential of my team by empowering them and equally be present as a guide when they need me.
What do you think is the current hot technology talking point?
In my view, ethical AI, technology-led customer experience, the use of biometrics and ESG (environmental, social and governance) have gained a lot of prominence recently. Investments in these areas have quadrupled at least, during the past 12 to 18 months especially in Europe. ESG especially, when infused with an optimal splash of technology, has the potential to render our lives better and safeguard our planet for generations to come.
How do you deal with stress and unwind outside the office?
Whenever I get a chance, I spend time with my family, listen to some soothing music and play badminton. I also relish driving around during weekends (hoping COVID-19 restrictions will allow it again soon !), especially to hidden gems in small towns and countryside. Taking my mind away helps me recharge, refocus and come back to work revitalised.
If you could go back and change one career decision what would it be?
Nothing, actually. I am humbly proud, happy and satisfied with all my career decisions to date. I am privileged to have found great people to work with. I have created fantastic relationships with seniors and juniors alike. I am equally fortunate to enjoy what I was and am doing now. More importantly, I continuously learn and what never ceases to surprise me are the outcomes delivered every day through engineering and technology, for the benefit of the entire ecosystem.
What do you currently identify as the major areas of investment in your industry?
End-to-End business transformation – encompassing end-user experience, technology transition and culture enhancement – is a major area of investment in the industries we, at Ciklum, operate in. This transformation stitches people, processes, IT and data together. Furthermore, with COVID-19, the vast majority of clients in our industry are looking to undertake (or have started) the journey of business transformation, to stay relevant as well as to gain competitive advantage.
What are the region-specific challenges when implementing new technologies in EMEA?
Each client business and country dynamic is different in EMEA. What works in one country or for one business, may not exactly work for another business or country. EMEA indeed has a diverse operating model with specific culture and language nuances. What sets our business apart is the acceptance of these complexities and challenges, while finding ways to provide value-added delivery at every step of organisational and transformational change. We love it when we are rewarded with smiles all around.
What changes to your job role have you seen in the last year and how do you see these developing in the next 12 months?
Technology-led business enablement is very much mainstream now. In my view, technology is not just an enabler, it is now business itself. I expect technology to play a much more prominent role in the future, especially as economies in EMEA start to completely recover from the pandemic within the next six to18 months. I am excited by the art of possible, which technology and engineering promises to usher in.
What advice would you offer somebody aspiring to obtain C-level position in your industry?
My four-pronged advice for anyone aspiring towards a C-suite position is: demonstrate true leadership everywhere you go, show empathy and gravitas in everything you do, communicate easy/difficult change messages with aplomb and be humble to accept and apply feedback.Click below to share this article