Being on top of the technology curve is very critical, says Subhamoy Chakraborti, CIO at ABP Group

Being on top of the technology curve is very critical, says Subhamoy Chakraborti, CIO at ABP Group
Being on top of the technology curve is very critical, says Subhamoy Chakraborti, CIO at ABP Group

Technology is not a big challenge. Right now, there are enough partners who can help an IT team in bringing solutions on the table; there are numerous products in most of the spaces

This is an exclusive interview conducted by Santosh Vaswani, Content Writer & Editor at CIO News with Subhamoy Chakraborti, Chief Information Officer (CIO) at ABP Group, on his Professional Journey

When asked how he planned his career path to be a successful CIO of ABP Group, Subhamoy Chakraborti, Chief Information Officer (CIO) at ABP Group, in an exclusive chat with CIO News, said, “I have not started my career thinking that someday I will become a CIO, it has happened over the time”. When I started my career after completing my M. Tech from Indian Statistical Institute, I had joined Cognizant as an Analyst. I worked for around one year before I moved to Oracle India, where my job role was product development in Oracle Apps technology stack. It was technically a very challenging and stimulating environment where I was working with some of the best brains in Oracle in India, US and UK. My next job was with Wipro. They had started the Product Engineering Services division at Kolkata. The work seemed promising, focusing on the Wireless and Networking Devices. Although this was in a service industry setup, my work continued to be in product development space only. We were developing mobile products for Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies including Microsoft, Motorola, Toshiba, among others. I worked in delivery as well as pre-sales and that gave me a very good ring side view of the industry.

After I spent five and a half years in Wipro, I got an opportunity to work with Magma Fincorp Ltd (currently Poonawalla Fincorp) and that is when I shifted side, from sell side to buy side. At that time Magma was trying to improve upon the technology setup. I joined as a Subject Matter Expert in mobility to drive the enterprise mobility journey, but then as time passed by, I moved forward in my career path adding more responsibilities to my portfolio. While I was in Magma, I was building products for automating sales, collections, operations, credit, HR among other functions. I got a very good hands-on exposure to the BFSI industry, Asset-based lending, SME lending, Housing Finance, Gold Loan and General Insurance business. I got a chance to work very closely with some of the renowned CIOs here. They are my mentors. They have taught me a lot in how IT can be managed in the most efficient way while working on “ChangeTheBusiness” strategy along with.

So, I would say the opportunity to get into this space was not a greatly planned moved. In Magma, I got a view of how things work on the buy side and started my journey towards becoming a CIO. While leaving Magma, I was managing all the Lending Business applications which required working with the Promoters, CEOs, COO and other business leaders. Then three years ago ABP offered me to join as the CIO. Here the work scope expanded further which includes Infrastructure, Network, Security, SAP, Digital and Analytics. With the help of my super-efficient team, we are working on running the business along with digitalising the business.

When asked about challenges he faced in his career path and how he overcame them, he said, I started my career in pure IT services industry. It was followed by a long stint in product engineering space. Then I moved into the corporate. Challenges were different in different industry segments at different times. For example: In Wipro, I was working with multiple marquee customers. They were from different geographies – Japan, the US, and the UK. Managing different geographies with different cultural background along with a demanding work schedule was a challenge but also a great learning experience. I am very proud of the team in Wipro as we did some of the most marvellous work possible in hi-tech industry.

Then when I moved into Magma, I found the technology there was at quite a nascent stage. It was easy to get frustrated at the lack of the technology maturity, more so coming from the cutting-edge hi-tech industry. But we took the challenge of bringing it up to speed and get it to a space where Magma is now. If you look at the technology footprint of Magma now, it is one of the best in the industry in the NBFC space. That has happened over the years as we worked on that in the background with the push and encouragement of the promoters and executive leadership team. The team consistently worked on the digitization agenda and has changed the way business is done over the years.

So, challenges differ industry to industry, across organization, and they change over time. I guess the mantra is not to give up; rather we need to stick to something when we commit to it, be that in workplace or in personal space. There would be rough patches on the way, but eventually it’s going to be a better world.

When asked about challenges faced by CIOs in a similar industry while implementing digital technologies and how CIOs can overcome the challenges, he said, the traditional way of looking at a portfolio is to check from people, process, and technology dimensions.

If I start with people, right now attrition is a global challenge in the IT industry. He highlighted that organisation should look at people from other verticals also while recruiting if the hard skills are ok. Getting folks from a different industry vertical often works better as pre-conceived notions and baggage don’t come as part of the package.

Process generally comes as part of the organization culture which needs to be worked upon daily. Probably a CIO can bring in fresh energy, outside-in views and get innovation in the everyday walk. Innovation need not come via a corporate agenda to the IT team. Innovation is part of the tech team’s daily work. Unless IT team innovates, it can’t survive, forget about thriving. I guess Innovation is that silver bullet which can bring in fresh ideas instead of getting stuck in the process quagmire.

Technology is not a big challenge. Right now, there are enough partners who can help an IT team in bringing solutions on the table; there are numerous products in most of the spaces. Product development is also an option in the digital space where only the thinking is the limit. What is important is to contextualize the products and services in the present business scenario. So, if you have a good sense of how the business demand works or rather predict the demand ahead of them, the next step is to collaborate with the technology partners.

When asked about best practices/industry trends/advice he would like to suggest for fellow CIOs for their professional journeys, he said, I have learned a lot from my team members, my fellow CIOs and my seniors, so I have very little to add there. I would just say that being on top of the technology curve is very critical for anyone in the technology industry. Reading and checking what is happening around is critical as it is a fast-moving platform. What is an innovation today may become obsolete tomorrow. If we get stuck on something that we have done for the last x number of years in our career, that may only hamper our progress forward. Along with learning, agility and speed of execution are very important. Lots of POCs and experiments should be done by the teams to evaluate options instead of getting awed by the PowerPoint presentations. It may result in failure couple of times, but that is ok. Tech people are dreamers who build stuff out of nothing. They should not fear failure.

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