Technology leaders must ensure that their teams are properly trained and supported in order to effectively use new digital technologies and avoid resistance to change
This is an exclusive interview conducted by the Editor Team of CIO News with Kalilur Rahman, Operations – Data Digital & IT/ Director – Platform Services at Novartis
How did you plan your career path to be a successful technology leader?
Everyone’s path is unique, and to answer the question of what makes a successful technology leader, we can consider our career to be an art. We need to, for a moment, think of all of us as artists and painters; all of us start with a blank canvas at the start of our careers. With the tools available to us, the panoramic vision we have, the ideas we get, and the options in front of us, the possibilities are endless. Some of us follow the easy path and take simpler options, while others pick a rather abstract road not taken and pull off a masterpiece. What are the options we have? How can we prove ourselves (first) and improve on an ongoing basis? All of us have a gamut of questions and fewer answers. What are the options we have? Given the length of my career and the roller coaster ride, a quote from Lao Tzu comes to mind, which is “Let go of what you are to become what you can be.”
The IT industry is constantly evolving, and to succeed and grow in a career in this field, there are several key measures that are essential. These include a commitment to life-long learning, adaptability, a customer-focused approach, team focus, value creation, and servant leadership.
First and foremost, a commitment to life-long learning is crucial in the IT industry. Technology is constantly changing, and one needs to stay relevant and valuable to an organisation.
Adaptability is also important in the IT industry. The ability to quickly adapt to changing technologies and business needs is crucial to staying competitive. This may involve being willing to take on new roles and responsibilities or even changing career paths within the industry.
A customer-focused approach is also vital in the IT industry. Individuals must be able to understand the needs of their customers and work to provide solutions that meet those needs. This requires strong communication and problem-solving skills, as well as the ability to think creatively.
Team focus is also important in the IT industry. Many projects and tasks require collaboration and teamwork, and individuals must be able to work effectively with others in order to achieve success. This includes being a good listener, being open to feedback, and being willing to take on a leadership role when necessary.
Value creation is another key measure of success in the IT industry. Individuals must be able to create value for their customers and their organisation by identifying and implementing new technologies and processes that improve efficiency and productivity.
Finally, servant leadership is an essential measure for success in the IT industry. A servant leader is someone who puts the needs of their team and customers first and is focused on creating a positive impact on their organisation. This requires strong leadership skills as well as the ability to build strong relationships with others.
In conclusion, a career in the IT industry requires a commitment to life-long learning, adaptability, a customer-focused approach, team focus, value creation, and servant leadership. These are the key measures that will help individuals succeed and grow in their careers.
What challenges did you face in your career path, and how did you overcome them?
An IT career path can present a variety of challenges that can make it difficult to succeed and advance. Some of the common challenges include:
- Keeping up with the latest technologies and trends: The IT industry is constantly changing, and individuals must be able to continuously learn and adapt to new technologies and trends in order to stay relevant and valuable to an organisation
- Managing and prioritising competing demands: IT professionals often have to manage multiple projects and tasks at once and must be able to prioritise and manage competing demands in order to meet deadlines and deliver quality work
- Communicating with non-technical stakeholders: IT professionals often have to work with non-technical stakeholders, such as managers and business leaders, who may not have a deep understanding of technical concepts, which can create difficulties in effectively communicating project goals and progress
- Building and maintaining relationships: IT professionals often have to work with a variety of stakeholders, including customers, vendors, and other teams within an organisation. Building and maintaining strong relationships is crucial to being successful in the role.
- Managing and motivating a team: IT professionals may be responsible for leading and managing a team, which can be challenging if they lack leadership and management skills.
To overcome these challenges, individuals can take several steps:
- Lifelong learning: Continuously learning and adapting to new technologies and trends is essential in order to stay relevant and valuable to an organisation. This can be achieved by taking courses, attending industry conferences, or even pursuing advanced degrees.
- Prioritise and manage competing demands: Prioritising and managing competing demands can be achieved by setting clear goals and creating a plan of action to achieve them. It is also important to communicate with stakeholders regularly to align expectations and make sure that everyone is on the same page.
- Effective Communications: Communicating effectively with non-technical stakeholders can be achieved by breaking down technical concepts into simple and easy-to-understand terms and by being open to feedback and questions.
- Build and maintain relationships: Building and maintaining relationships can be achieved by being responsive, reliable, and respectful, and by being open to feedback and suggestions.
- Lead a team as a coach: Leading and coaching a team can be achieved by setting clear goals and expectations, providing regular feedback and coaching, and fostering a positive and productive team culture.
An IT career path can present a variety of challenges, but with the right mindset and approach, individuals can overcome them and achieve success in the industry.
What are the challenges faced by technology leaders today while implementing digital technologies?
Technology leaders today face several challenges when implementing digital technologies. Some of the common challenges include:
- Keeping up with the pace of technological change: The rapid pace of technological change can make it difficult for technology leaders to keep up with the latest trends and innovations and to make informed decisions about which technologies to implement. One also needs to be agile and quick to implement a technology before it becomes obsolete or vaporware.
- Ensuring security and compliance: With the increasing reliance on digital technologies, technology leaders must ensure that systems and data are secure and compliant with industry and government regulations. The threat of cyber-security and compliance issues is increasing exponentially, and one needs to be on top of their game.
- Iteratively Complex Integrations and Evolution of Technology Platform and Managing Multiple Systems and Platforms: Technology leaders often have to manage and integrate multiple systems and platforms, which can be complex and time-consuming.
- Team Leadership: Technology leaders are often responsible for leading and managing a team of IT professionals, which can be challenging if they lack leadership and management skills.
- Continuous Learning and Training for the Team: Technology leaders must ensure that their teams are properly trained and supported in order to effectively use new digital technologies and avoid resistance to change.
- Managing the adoption and resistance to change and business or team inertia and fatigue: Technology leaders must manage the adoption and resistance to change when introducing new digital technologies, which can often be met with scepticism and resistance from employees.
To overcome these challenges, technology leaders can take several steps:
- Stay informed: Stay informed about the latest trends and innovations in technology and network with peers.
- Prioritise security and compliance: Prioritise security and compliance by implementing robust security protocols, regularly monitoring systems and data, and staying up to date with industry and government regulations.
- Plan and manage integration: Plan and manage integration by creating a detailed plan for integrating new digital technologies and by working closely with IT professionals and other stakeholders to ensure that the implementation is successful.
- Lead and coach the team from the front: Lead and manage a team by setting clear goals and expectations, providing regular feedback and coaching, and fostering a positive and productive team culture.
- Provide training and support: Provide training and support by creating training programmes and resources to help employees effectively use new digital technologies and by providing ongoing support to ensure that employees are able to use the technologies effectively.
- Manage adoption and resistance to change: Manage adoption and resistance to change by communicating the benefits of new digital technologies, involving employees in the decision-making process, and addressing any concerns or resistance that employees may have.
Any best practices, industry trends, or advice you would like to suggest to fellow technology leaders for their successful professional journeys?
The key is to be relevant and be up to date with the evolving journey of the industry. The IT industry has undergone significant changes over the years, with new technologies and trends emerging at a rapid pace. One of the earliest forms of technology in the IT industry was assembly language and mainframe computing. Assembly Language was a low-level programming language that was used to programme early computers, while mainframe computers were large and powerful machines that were primarily used by large organisations for data processing and storage.
As technology progressed, the industry moved towards mid-range computing. These were smaller and less expensive than mainframes and were designed to be used by smaller organisations. Mid-range systems such as IBM’s AS/400 and Digital Equipment Corporation’s VAX were popular in the 80s and 90s.
The introduction of client-server computing in the late 80s and early 90s marked a significant change in the industry. This technology allowed for distributed computing, where clients (such as personal computers) were connected to servers that provided shared resources and services. This led to the development of more powerful and user-friendly software and made it possible for organisations of all sizes to take advantage of IT resources.
The 21st century saw the emergence of cloud computing, which revolutionised the way organisations consume and utilise IT resources. Cloud computing allows for the delivery of computing resources and services over the internet, eliminating the need for organisations to invest in expensive hardware and software. This has made it possible for organisations of all sizes to access powerful technology and services and has also led to the development of new business models such as software as a service (SaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS).
In recent years, edge computing has emerged as a new trend in the IT industry. Edge computing is a distributed computing model that brings computing resources closer to the edge of the network, where data is generated. This is designed to reduce the latency and improve the speed of data processing and is particularly useful for IoT and other real-time applications.
The field of artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) has also seen significant growth, as these technologies are being used to analyse data, automate processes, and improve decision-making. This has led to the development of new products and services and has also opened up new opportunities for businesses and organisations.
The latest trend in the IT industry is the metaverse, a virtual reality space where users can interact with others in a shared environment. The Metaverse is seen as the next step in the evolution of the internet and has the potential to revolutionise the way we live, work, and interact with each other.
In conclusion, the IT industry has undergone significant changes over the years, with new technologies and trends emerging at a rapid pace. From Assembly Language and mainframes to mid-range, client-server computing, cloud computing, edge computing, AI/ML, and metaverse, the IT industry has evolved to meet the changing needs of businesses and organisations. The future of IT is expected to be driven by the continued growth of technologies such as AI/ML, edge computing, and the metaverse, and it is likely that these technologies will continue to shape the way we live, work, and interact with each other.
Any other points that you would like to highlight?
To succeed in the IT industry, a leader needs to thrive with the evolving changes and leverage various leading practises. There are several best practises, industry trends, and pieces of advice that can help a technology leader navigate their professional journey and achieve success. A leader needs to always embrace change and stay current, prioritise security and compliance, foster a culture of innovation, embrace coaching through servant leadership, communicate effectively, embrace a customer-centric approach, embrace new technologies, embrace Agile methodology, Develop a strategy and road map, and lead by example to succeed. Towards this, I have also added two posts I’ve written in the past on LinkedIn that could be handy.
How to build a Successful Career? 10 Tips to Ponder! | LinkedIn
How to achieve the visibility and recognition deserved from your boss? | LinkedIn
Also read: Delivery Leadership is both an Art and a Science
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