Technology leaders have three levers to overcome challenges, and the leaders who utilise all these three levers achieve success
This is an exclusive interview conducted by the Editor Team of CIO News with Vivek Kant, CTO at Bajaj MARKETS
How did you plan your career path to be a successful technology leader?
My journey in technology started when I was very young and fortunate to have access to a computer in the late ‘80s and learnt programming in school. Since then, I have been passionate about technology and how it can change our world. I never had a long-term plan for my career, but I was clear on two things:
- I will always continue to code and build software myself, irrespective of my role requirements, and continue to have depth in technology. I still code and try to do a few commits on my Github account every week.
- I will try to obtain diverse experience across roles, technologies, and industries. I have worked in the Media & Communications, Banking, Financial Services, and Insurance industries. I have played roles spanning being an individual contributor as a software engineer, solution architect and technology consultant, as well as management roles in both product engineering and delivery.
What challenges did you face in your career path and how did you overcome them?
Every role and assignment has its own challenges. To name one challenge, I frequently encountered constant change in the business environment, which drove business needs and thus change in system requirements.
Over time, I learnt to accept change, as it is the only constant thing, and to use delivery methodologies like agile and architecture patterns like adaptive design to overcome this challenge.
What are the challenges faced by IT leaders today while implementing digital technologies?
In today’s world, any digital technology implementation will have many challenges. Some key ones are: constant change from businesses; time pressures; quality; co-existing legacy and digital technologies. In addition, the industry faces a massive challenge of hiring, engaging, and retaining top tech talent.
How can IT leaders overcome the challenges they face?
Technology leaders have three levers to overcome challenges, and the leaders who utilise all these three levers achieve success.
- Technology: Depth in technology, particularly a hand-on lever that allows a leader to delve deeply into issues. Such a leader will be able to lead from the front and guide the team to overcome challenges that are deeply technical, e.g. non-functional performance or security issues.
- Process: Process orientation enables a diverse set of people to work together and collaborate. A leader should be able to set up processes and enable his team to follow them. Process measurement enables a leader to identify gaps and issues and proactively address them before they become major challenges.
- People:Technology is a people’s business and understanding the technologists’ psyche and getting them motivated to deliver excellence is key to building a successful tech team.
Any best practices, industry trends, or advice you’d give to fellow IT leaders to help them succeed professionally?
I follow a few principles that have helped me to overcome the challenges:
- Focus on Business Outcomes: Despite my passion for technology, I have always believed that it is a means to an end. More often than not, tech projects become an end in themselves. Therefore, we always have well-defined business outcomes and measurable impact for any tech project.
- Architecture before technology: Often enough, when technologies are on the hype curve, it is often believed that just by technology adoption, business outcomes will be achieved. However, unless we have a well-defined architecture that uses the technology in its intended form, we will not have successful technology transformations.
- People before projects: Technology projects are all about people. If we focus on engaging, motivating, and driving people towards engineering excellence, we can overcome any technology challenges.
Any other points which you would like to highlight?
As Fredrick Brooks said in his seminal work “The Mythical Man-month”, software projects are like tar pits where many mammoths have sunk. Tech leaders need to realise that software delivery projects, especially those involving new architecture or technology, are hard to deliver. Therefore, having the right people, processes, and architecture is key to their success.
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