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CIOs need to be a catalyst to facilitate spending on the right technologies at the right time, says Mobin Muhammed, CIO/ COO at SleeveTechs

When a CIO successfully maps the mission of the technology team to the vision of the primary stakeholders in any organization, he starts adding value

Having an open mind while being a good listener, and building an ecosystem of trustworthy professionals around you as you grow will make it easier to grow, sustain the growth, as well as easily rebound from failures too

This is an exclusive interview conducted by Santosh Vaswani, Content Writer & Editor at CIO News with Mobin Muhammed, Chief Information Officer (CIO)/Chief Operating Officer (COO) at SleeveTechs.

When asked about his career path to be a successful CIO, Mobin Muhammed, Chief Information Officer (CIO)/Chief Operating Officer (COO) at SleeveTechs, in an exclusive interview with CIO News, said, to have a career as a successful CIO, is a journey which I have not yet completed, but on which I had started almost five years before my very first job.

My parents giving their consent for me to pursue engineering, instead of medicine for my graduation, while I had the best college options in both fields, was the first major step in this journey. This was important as I strongly believed that the passion I had for applied technology was much more than the commitment I would have had towards becoming a good doctor. Also, the medical degree college seat, which I might not have done justice to, was made available to other students, who could be much better at giving it the dedication, honour, and commitment it deserved. This said, I need to state that I am of the opinion that to be a successful CIO you don’t necessarily need to come from an engineering background, as it’s a role for anyone who has passion for technology and digital information management, combined with relevant experience.

After that, it was more about avoiding getting into any comfort zone through consistent learnings and ensuring exposure to contemporary as well as new technologies. Having a good support system in the form of wonderful parents who never gave up on me, friends who have never hesitated to constructively criticize me and help me push limits, as well as a wife who while taking care of her career, is equally committed to helping me on my journey, has definitely helped too.

One of the main advantages for me has also been the easy access as well as the opportunity to work directly with visionary business leaders like Shirdhar Turaga at E4E, Abdul Sameer at Compass International, and Ashraf Karnire at Expertise. Also, opportunities for learning diverse people management techniques while working with strong women like Vani, Manpreet, and Geetha Rebello from E4E during my early career days, have helped make my career path easy to maneuver.

To conclude on this question, what we all need to do to be successful as a CIO or as anything else that we dream of, is plan to follow the advice given by the protagonist in one of my most favourite Bollywood movies “Three Idiots”: Pursue excellence and success will come chasing you.

When asked about the challenges he faced in his career path and how did he overcome them, he said, the resistance to change, be it in teammates, project members, or colleagues from other departments, is one of the most prevalent challenges any professional can face, while scaling up the ladder. This one single factor can be severely detrimental to not just your success, but also to the success of all constructive efforts and initiatives which you direct towards the growth of the organization as a whole. Even I have faced this a bit; albeit not too much. We need to remember here that this cannot be tagged as wrong behaviour per se, since the urge to protect established processes or methods is an evolutionary human trait.

I have found that the way to overcome this challenge is to apply a few effective change management techniques, which we would use while dealing with an organization-wide or project-wide change. For example, we talk about putting people first, empowering employees, and a good leadership style as points to keep in mind for any organizational level change. We can utilize all three above points for example, by following the so-called servant-leader model while moving on to higher responsibilities.

Since the Servant-Leader model focuses on leaders sharing power and helping the team perform as a whole, this in itself will help you take the whole organization alongside on your journey towards continuous improvement and growth. Also, putting in consistent efforts to have the organization’s primary stakeholders on your side as much as possible, definitely helps.

When asked about SleeveTechs and his key business priorities, he said, SleeveTechs is a technology consulting start-up, created to provide business owners, senior business leaders, and top management board members the benefit of tapping into our teams’ extensive technology management experience as a service, On-Demand.

Even with the best of technology teams, it always helps to have a second opinion or a different way of looking at how best to apply technology to strengthen their existing tech processes and teams. We address this business requirement through enabling improved process efficiency, transparency, and direction, by serving as a bridge between the management’s vision and their tech team’s strategy.

We plan to help our current and future clients, by tapping into our extensive experience and partnerships from working with leaders and innovators in logistics and supply chain, engineering and industrial services, outsourcing and technology support, as well as retail sectors.

As a start-up our priority right now is to deliver the best to our clients, as we strongly believe that our best sales channel to fuel growth, is through our existing customers. Thus, to ensure all our customers get tangible and expedited results through our services is a key business priority for us.

When asked about the best practices/industry trends/advice he would like to suggest to fellow CIOs for their successful professional journey, he said, when a CIO can successfully map the mission of the technology team to the vision of the primary stakeholders in any organization, they start adding value right away. They need to persistently lookout for technology solutions which can help automate and digitize the maximum processes possible, subject to IT spending available at their disposal.

CIOs also need to have a balanced approach towards spending, as in, CIOs need to be a catalyst to facilitate spending on the right technologies at the right time, but at the same time also cautious enough to avoid spending on projects and solutions which have an ROI which does not match the business requirements, especially concerning the organization’s cash flow projections and requirements.

Runaway projects which can break budgeting plans need to be in check, and we also need to slowly wean out outdated solutions, as every technology solution in use has a direct or indirect impact on the company’s finances.

To summarise on the approach to take overall as a leader, and not just as a CIO, towards people and projects, we need to remember that there is no single solution for all challenges. So having an open mind while being a good listener, and building an ecosystem of trustworthy professionals around you as you grow will make it much easier to grow, sustain the growth, as well as easily rebound from failures too, when needed.

I wish everyone the best and would love to connect with you all on CIO News and LinkedIn.

Also readCIO News interviews Shri Wangki Lowang, Minister (IT) of Arunachal Pradesh

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CIO News, a proprietary of Mercadeo, produces award-winning content and resources for IT leaders across any industry through print articles and recorded video interviews on topics in the technology sector such as Digital Transformation, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Cloud, Robotics, Cyber-security, Data, Analytics, SOC, SASE, among other technology topics.

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