On the lighter side of things we ask Anand Raman, COO at Newgen Software, what makes him tick.
What would you describe as your most memorable achievement?
Newgen has taken on many Digital Transformation projects where we transformed our clients’ business operations and customer experience, resulting in business growth and huge cost savings.
However, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) project stands out in my mind due to the enormous impact our software had on millions of families.
In March 2020, at the height of the pandemic when businesses were shutting down, the CARES Act was passed – and specifically the PPP – to help small businesses retain their employees by providing government-backed loans through financial institutions around the US.
Financial institutions had just a few days to prepare their systems and start issuing PPP loans to small businesses. While Newgen was already working with several financial institutions on automating and transforming their lending processes, this was an unprecedented challenge.
We used our low code-based Digital Transformation platform and, in a matter of days, built the necessary software to enable banks to automate the intake, processing and origination of PPP loans. We onboarded financial institutions in just days, or even hours, with our entire organization coming together and working 24/7.
Within a few weeks, the Newgen platform had helped multiple financial institutions process billions of dollars in loans to tens of thousands of small businesses, thereby helping protect millions of jobs. Seeing the tangible positive impact of Newgen’s software, at a time when the entire country was in crisis, will always stand out as one of my proudest achievements.
What first made you think of a career in technology?
It’s cliché to say, ‘I’ve always had an interest in technology,’ but it’s true! Since I was young, I’ve had a passion for discovering new things and problem solving. And, as someone who grew up during a major technological revolution, working with technology was a natural choice.
I think a career in technology has been a wonderful choice because things are constantly changing. We are continuously innovating and uncovering new ways of operating in the digital world, and for me that has been, and continues to be, extremely exciting and fulfilling.
What style of management philosophy do you employ with your current position?
While I’m not a ‘management guru’ and I certainly don’t know all the philosophies and styles of management, the one thing that I’ve discovered during my tenure as a manager is that the best motivated and most productive teams all share a sense of purpose and a drive to achieve excellence. And that is the philosophy I try to employ.
Purpose should always be related to service-seeking to serve the greater good and generate positive change. Excellence, for me, is about striving for continuous improvement and always doing better.
Both components are equally important. Encouraging your team to strive for excellence means learning continuously, challenging the status quo and constantly innovating. Having a greater purpose makes it easier to work together as a team and collaborate, since individual egos come second to prioritizing the best ideas and the overall team’s success. Furthermore, a clear purpose can empower a team with the determination to problem solve and keep going when things seem tough.
What do you think is the current hot technology talking point?
Most organizations, across all industries, are talking about Digital Transformation. Companies today are realizing that Digital Transformation results in a better customer experience, revenue growth and greater customer loyalty.
Most enterprises also know that they need a technology platform to achieve holistic Digital Transformation and reap the benefits. The real challenge is determining which technology platform is the right choice for them, since Digital Transformation is a complex endeavor, especially in today’s dynamic environment.
How do you deal with stress and unwind outside the office?
Unwinding is the key to rejuvenation, especially over the past year and a half. For me, biking and playing badminton with my family and neighbors, as well as just quality family time, has helped me recharge physically and mentally.
However, I also have found that sometimes being ‘in the zone’ and working toward a larger ‘purpose’ – for example, working on the PPP project during the pandemic – can be a surprising stressbuster. I’m by no means encouraging constantly working, but if I look at myself, I can honestly say I don’t remember ever working harder and still being less stressed than during the PPP project. Perhaps because I was motivated by a sense of purpose and the significant impact we were having on people’s livelihoods.
If you could go back and change one career decision, what would it be?
I think here I will err on the side of changing things I did not do, instead of things I did do.
It’s not easy to find the right product-market fit, and when we did, the most important thing we should have done was to not hold back, waiting to improve things and iron out specifics. Instead, we should have stepped on the gas and accelerated our entire go to market by 10x.
What do you currently identify as the major areas of investment in your industry?
There’s no question in my mind that right now the main area of investment, in my industry and across the board, is Digital Transformation. Enterprises around the world, are looking to accelerate their digital initiatives and stay relevant in the digital age.
In the same vein, enterprises are looking to invest in low code and content management tools in order to actually realize their Digital Transformation goals.
What are the region-specific challenges when implementing new technologies in North America?
Newgen has had to tackle this question head-on as we have implemented several new technology initiatives in North America.
There are a number of big challenges and questions to ask when trying to deploy new technologies, including:
• Do we take a ‘big bang’ or a phased approach?
• Can our client handle or execute multiple digital projects simultaneously, or should we go one-by-one?
• How can we help clients seamlessly shift away from their legacy products, while managing access to old data and information?
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?
Unequivocally the biggest change I’ve seen in my role over the last year has been the shift to remote working. At the beginning of the pandemic, Newgen was extremely quick to adapt to the situation-enabling Newgenites around the globe to work from home almost immediately.
For me, in a largely customer and partner-facing role, the biggest shift has been learning how to continue nurturing my relationships with our clients, partners and employees in a remote world. And I’m happy to say that I, and the entire Newgen team, has been overwhelmingly successful in that endeavor.
Over the next 12 months, I foresee even more changes in the form of learning to balance the remote working world with interacting in-person. I believe most businesses, including Newgen, will take a hybrid approach to engaging with stakeholders from now on, and so it will be an interesting challenge to adapt to a hybrid environment as a manager and business leader.
What advice would you offer somebody aspiring to obtain a C-level position in your industry?
The key to success, in my opinion, is to find something you are interested in, and that is of value to people, and then work extremely hard at it, in an intentional manner, over time.
The power of continuous improvement over time is amazing. Einstein famously said that ‘compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world.’
A corollary is that continuous improvement is like the compound interest of skills and knowledge. If you dedicate yourself to constantly improving and upgrading your skills and knowledge, you’ll inevitably reap the benefits of second order results, such as ‘connecting the dots’ and ‘expanding your network.’