Technology leaders must think ahead, test and run, fail fast or fail safe, keep your stakeholders close, build capabilities within your organization, and provide robust learning platforms for employees to stay current
This is an exclusive interview conducted by the Editor Team of CIO News with Amit Potnis, Director – Global Program Management Lead at Mondelēz International
How did you plan your career path to be a successful technology leader?
My technology journey started while I was still working on what we now call “domain,” wherein I got the opportunity to be a part of a large ERP implementation as a Core Team member. This was the turning point for me, as I developed a lot of interest in this ERP and became a functional consultant in my domain of supply chain management. It was a bit difficult, however, because this was a time when this skill was in high demand and there wasn’t a lot of expertise available in the market. It was tricky, because I had to talk to some of my mentors and friends to understand if there was really a future here if I shifted from “domain” to “technology.” The response was a resounding “YES, you should.” So, I started my journey as a functional consultant and grew in my area to become an SME. As a part of my job, I was expected to devise solutions for clients, implement them, and define and drive value. One of the big advantages of working in consulting is the variety of exposure one gets by working with multiple clients across industries. It provides a great insight into businesses and business processes across industries and how technology drives value in the functions of these businesses. I gained a lot of insight into the industry-specific processes and solutions, which helped my growth as an individual contributor and SME immensely.
Once you’ve established yourself as the subject matter expert, the logical next step (in my opinion) is to gain a deeper understanding of how end-to-end solutions are delivered for a client. This is where I moved to Delivery Lead roles, where I could get a bird’s-eye view of how each team works and how it all comes together. This also helped me gain a good understanding of how end-to-end solutions are devised, taking into consideration the complete ecosystem of the processes and applications. As such, I started doing solution architecture, starting with an area of my comfort or expertise and then moving to end-to-end solution architecture. This was a big turning point in my career; we used to call it pre-sales back then, and it was very exciting and interesting at the same time. However, what I missed was the big question of “How is it being delivered and is it working as intended?” One of the big opportunities that came my way was when I provided a solution for a client and was also asked to deliver the business case. I learned a lot about how assumptions made during the initial solutioning stages are valid or invalid, and what challenges delivery teams face after the solution is aligned and agreed upon with the client. A fantastic learning opportunity in which you must think on your feet, update solutions to meet revised demands, and provide a lessons learned template for me as a Solution Architect. However, remember, not a lot is known when you initially “solution” for someone, and it’s critical to understand and get the right people on board while solutioning.
I was keen to apply my learning to an end user, and I later moved on to the other side of the world and got back into the “domain.” This role added a lot to me in terms of senior stakeholder management, how critical it is to talk “business” with the business stakeholders, and most importantly, it taught me how to derive a business case with core business benefits, see it being delivered end-to-end, and “prove” the business case benefits that have been delivered.
What challenges you faced in your career path and how did you overcome them?
During my initial days, some of the challenges I faced had more to do with who do I contact to get more information regarding an issue or process; how do I learn more about the business process; and how do I get information on the best practices? As I moved through the chain, these challenges then got converted more into analytical thinking, stakeholder mapping and management, relationship building, etc.
What are the challenges faced by technology leaders today while implementing digital technologies?
The abundance of available technologies and information also makes it challenging to make a decision. Continuously changing market trends and end-user needs also create a challenge for how you design to meet these ever-changing needs.
How can technology leaders overcome the challenges faced?
Think ahead, test and run, fail fast or fail safe, keep your stakeholders close, build capabilities within your organization, and provide robust learning platforms for employees to stay current.
Any best practices, industry trends, or advice you’d give to fellow technology leaders to help them succeed professionally?
As per me, there is no such thing as a “best practise.” Every career or role has its ups and downs; however, every up and every down is a lesson in itself, and you should get the noise out and focus on the positives. Every situation teaches you perseverance, a positive attitude, the ability and daring to correct yourself when you are wrong (believe me, you are not right a LOT of the time!) and the willingness to keep pushing and bringing about change. Mentoring is another important aspect of the journey, in my opinion. I am very fortunate to have fantastic, knowledgeable mentors and managers in my career, and I love to give back by grooming individuals and mentoring them in their journeys! Seek out your mentors and get into mentoring; it will go a long way!
Any other points that you would like to highlight?
During my career, I have also learned that giving back to society is so fulfilling, and this is something that I really love doing when I contribute to such initiatives.
Also read: Technology that you want to build for an organisation should be business process-oriented and easy to use
Do Follow: CIO News LinkedIn Account | CIO News Facebook | CIO News Youtube | CIO News Twitter
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