Output-driven implementations are the way forward, and tech leaders will have to adapt to the change
This is an exclusive interview conducted by the Editor Team of CIO News with Sekhar Ramarao, Director – Microsoft Business Applications at Intertec Systems
How did you plan your career path to be a successful technology leader?
I was introduced to IT by my cousin back in 1997. Apart from my core curriculum, I did Oracle and Microsoft Visual Basic certifications and got exposed to the IT universe. After the certification, I was placed with one of the SIs as a coder. After a couple of years of coding, I have realised that coding is not my cup of tea. Since I was exposed to business process analysis at a very early stage, I was quite interested in building my career as a consultant. During my early days, I got an opportunity to work in different countries and industries like hospitality, EPC, trade & distribution, real estate, education, etc., Being a consultant has helped me to understand the industry well and get exposed to a multi-cultural environment. I chose to specialise in EPC, Manufacturing and Retail as my core.
I have always had a plan for organic career growth. Success lies in upskilling and being accountable. I have never hesitated to take on responsibilities with accountability. This has helped me to grow from a consultant to a P & L owner within a decade of my professional life. The biggest lesson which I have learnt through this is not to miss any given opportunity and to update/upskill yourself constantly. I followed the motto “Unlearn to relearn” till today. I set aside 2 hours a day after my office hours for my learning as a practice.
What challenges did you face in your career path and how did you overcome them?
We generally tend to miss opportunities to learn about the industry and business challenges. They are equally important to being successful in your career. I could spot this gap at the early stages of my career and made sure that I engaged myself in industry-focused events, learning about the current trends in the industry, having conversations with industry folks, etc. This has really helped me to win the customer’s trust and differentiate during the discussions.
The second most ignored area in our industry is communication and presentation skills. I did realise the importance of the same when I was asked to lead a business unit 15 years ago. I enrolled myself as part of Toastmasters International. This platform has helped me to reshape myself, my thoughts, and build story telling capabilities along with articulation. This gave me an opportunity to be a keynote speaker at the Middle East Microsoft Dynamics Summit and other CX events in Dubai.
What are the challenges faced by technology leaders today while implementing digital technologies?
Tech leaders are the advocates for the board and CXOs. They get trapped between time, budget and business priorities. Most technology leaders fall short of their commitments due to a lack of time, funds, and business priorities. Digital technologies are ever changing, and there is a huge pressure on tech leaders to be early adapters. Any technology implementation should solve business problems with very clear output. Output-driven implementations are the way forward, and tech leaders will have to adapt to the change.
How can technology leaders overcome the challenges they face?
There is a great way to extrapolate any business challenge by asking five important questions. What, Where, Who, When, and Why? If we have answers to these questions, the final question of “how?” can be easily answered. From 5Ws, we will be able to get the business challenges, mundane & repeat processes, productivity, and output that can be extracted. Once we have this information clearly identified, how to solve it using technology will be the easiest problem to solve. During this exercise, tech leaders will have to have a learning and upskilling plan for their internal teams to adopt and implement the technology.
A lot of technology implementations fail due to employee apathy. As part of the change management, the leaders should bring in inclusivity and accountability.
Any best practices, industry trends, or advice you’d give to fellow technology leaders to help them succeed professionally?
A building blocks approach: an empire is not built in a day; it takes time and effort. I would always recommend going with the flow and time. If you want to be in the industry, you must upskill and cross-skill yourself and your team. Hence, lifelong learning is the best approach to stay competitive. Second, set both short-term and long-term goals in your personal and professional life. You must also journal your day/week/month/year, which includes your tasks, learning time, and activity list. Finally, have a routine and take periodic breaks to rejuvenate your thoughts and physique.
Any other points which you would like to highlight?
Be relevant, stay healthy and happy. Do not overthink the future; be in the moment.
Also read: Technology is an ever-evolving landscape
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