In today’s digital world where tech is changing so fast, I made a deliberate effort to bring differentiated skills around AI-ML, RPA, Data Lake, and cybersecurity to my business
When asked how he planned his career path to be a successful technology leader, Mangesh Baitule, Head of Information Technology and Digital at Swiss Singapore Overseas Enterprises PTE. LTD, in an exclusive interview with CIO News, said, “Honestly, it happened to me by accident. As a production engineer, I began my career with the Tata Group.Due to my IT skills, I have been given additional responsibility to prepare budgets, production plans, and generate MIS reports. I can tell you that was a hell of a lot of work. I always used to wonder… what if we got some off-the-shelf IT solution that could reduce my efforts? To my surprise, an opportunity struck… our company decided to implement SAP ERP and I was picked up as a team member. This was way back in 2003-2004.
I soon realised that the ERP boom is there to stay for a couple of decades. I started honing my SAP skills in various business functions. I was always passionate about interacting with business users and solving their problems using IT solutions; I decided to move into a full-time IT career.
I progressed in my career by implementing multiple ERP, supply chain planning, and CRM solutions in companies like Colgate Palmolive and Aditya Birla Group. I began to realize… I can add more value in business partnerships and develop a forward-thinking IT and digital strategy for businesses. Thankfully, Aditya Birla Group offered me plenty of opportunities that helped me transition from a technical to a general IT management role as Head of IT in 2018.
Every role comes with its own challenges and every day is a new learning experience. I started sharpening my soft skills required for new roles and improved my understanding of other IT domains like Enterprise Architecture, Cloud, and Information Security.
When asked about challenges he faced in his career path and how he overcame them, he said, “Early in my career, one of the key challenges I faced was picking up on various IT domains like SAP modules, basic ABAP, and system integration skills.” Thankfully, with the support of my colleagues, SI partners, and my hunger to learn new things, I have been able to address these challenges.
As I started performing new roles like solution architect and project manager, it was challenging for me to understand the business dynamics of multiple businesses (Manufacturing, Mining, FMCG, and Commodity Trading) and deliver IT/digital solutions with a sharp focus on quality and delivery. I am a strong believer in microlearning. That helped me acquire skills like effective communication, system integration, project management, stakeholder engagement, and vendor management. With ongoing projects and opportunities, I learned and put these skills to work. During global IT implementations, I learnt the importance of building diverse teams and being sensitive to multi-national cultures.
As Head of the IT function, key challenges are managing stakeholder expectations, cybersecurity threats and building competencies for the digital world. Influencing decision makers and working on initiatives that are aligned with business goals is important. As an IT leader, one should not hesitate to shy away from projects that do not add up to business priorities. Cybersecurity is a moving goal post; continued learning and collaboration amongst peers and partners is the key. In today’s digital world where tech is changing so fast, I made a deliberate effort to bring differentiated skills around AI-ML, RPA, Data Lake, and cybersecurity to my business.
When asked about challenges faced by technology leaders today while implementing digital technologies, he said, “Keeping a fine balance between IT operational excellence and innovation is a major challenge.” We need to build awareness within the C-Suite community to educate them on how technology can solve key business problems. Assessing the maturity and picking up relevant digital technology for your business is important. Finding the right skills and retaining them over time is another challenge. Finally, a structured approach and systematic digital roadmap can always help us stay focused.
When asked how technology leaders can overcome the challenges they face, he said, “Thankfully, cloud, start-ups, and other partner ecosystems are now geared up to provide agility in experimentation with digital tech and demonstrate business value. Reskilling your current IT staff is a must. Your team must spend at least 25% of its time on new technology solutions. We need to build a strong ecosystem of vendors, start-ups, and centres of excellence to deliver your digital strategy. Always think of cyberthreats before putting any technology to use. Increasing overall awareness of information security within and outside your teams is important.
When asked about best practices, industry trends, or advice he would like to suggest to fellow technology leaders for their successful professional journeys, he said, “Monitoring industry trends and the evolving tech landscape is a must to build enterprise architecture for the future.” Embrace new ways of working, especially Agile and DevOps. Use leading cybersecurity frameworks like NIST to ring fence your IT assets, including data. Build ecosystems and brand IT within your organization. As IT leaders, we must make tireless efforts to train the business workforce to adopt newly implemented technology solutions. And lastly, don’t shy away from experimentation. Take calculated risks.
He highlighted that this is an exciting time for IT leaders. Thanks to COVID, digital is accelerating in all business functions and is now on the boardroom agenda. Business leaders have expressed a sense of urgency, and we, as IT leaders, must live up to that expectation.
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