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To be a CIO, technology knowledge alone is not enough, says Subhakar Rudra, CIO at WPIL Limited

A successful CIO must have a proper understanding of different aspects, processes of the organization and its business, P&L, etc. And above all, be a good leader

This is an exclusive interview conducted by Santosh Vaswani, Content Writer & Editor at CIO News with Subhakar Rudra, Chief Information Officer (CIO) at WPIL Limited about his Professional Journey

When asked how he planned his career path to be a successful CIO, Subhakar Rudra, Chief Information Officer (CIO) at WPIL Limited said, to be very honest, 23 years back, post my engineering, when I started my career in IT, during the initial stage that is the first six to eight years, I never planned for anything like this. From my position, rarely did I use to get opportunities to meet the CIOs or talk to them. Then, CIOs were serious-looking people for me, out of my bounds hence, being a CIO someday would have been too ambitious & a far-fetched dream.

It was during the second stage of my career back in 2004, when I started working for Usha Martin Group. There, I met Mr. Sunil Kumar Jala, the then CIO of Usha Martin, and my mentor, as well. He made me realize that nothing is too far to achieve and the least we can do is, put in our best effort. Went on to learn to be a CIO, technology knowledge alone is not enough. The role demands more. A successful CIO must have a proper understanding of different aspects, processes of the organization and its business, P&L, etc. And above all, be a good leader.

Eventually, under the guidance of Jala Sir, I started working on my weak points, expanding my knowledge across the functioning of the various departments of business, understanding finance, products, etc. This was the only plan and this only helped me most in my progress towards whatever little I have achieved so far and remains a never-ending learning curve.

When asked about challenges he faced in his career path and how he overcame them, he said, while technology understanding was never much of a serious challenge, understanding the business processes within a short period, was.

The only way to overcome this challenge was to get deep into the subject, ensure proper understanding – starting from the very basics, talking to the SMEs, etc. These are what I followed and undeniably, kind & generous guidance from different colleagues at a different stage. While I have already mentioned Jala Sir’s guidance, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ms. Urmi Sen Sharma, Mr. Santanu Roy & Mr. Binoy Mondol for helping me out during my tenure as an IT Head in Healthcare.

When asked how his organization geared up in terms of technology in the COVID times, he said, we all know, COVID situation compelled faster adoption of digital technologies across the globe. So it was, for us too. It was very clear, ‘work from home is going to be the way forward. Accordingly, we started with the immediate adoption of & leveraging online collaboration tools. To ensure accessibility & availability of our business applications anytime & from anywhere, a secured VPN was rolled out. In parallel, information security measures were beefed up.

Speaking about technology solutions and innovations he plans to implement in the post COVID era, he said, cloud, automation & mobility are on the top of the list.

When asked about challenges faced by CIOs today in a similar industry while implementing digital technologies, he said, while few challenges are common across most of the organizations, few differ from an organization to another. A few of the common challenges faced by the CIOs today in a similar industry would be the following.

  • Resistance towards change/adoption of new technology.
  • Budget – At times, top-level executives won’t/don’t understand the value of new technologies.
  • Integration of the Legacy system & data.
  • Employee Training.
  • Up-skilling existing resources.
  • Cyber-security.

When asked how CIOs can overcome the challenges faced, he said, proper planning is the keyword. Following are the few that need to be considered:

While resistance to adoption of technology can be addressed significantly with carefully handled Change Management processes, ensuring budget would need educating & guiding the top management on the advantages of new technologies. Choosing the right digital transformation partners, appropriate information security audits along with sincere approach towards subsequent gap closure are a couple of major factors that need to be taken into consideration, as well.

When asked about best practices/industry trends/advice he would like to suggest to fellow CIOs for their successful professional journeys, he said, most of the CIOs are aware of the best practices. Yet if I have to suggest, considering the rise in cyber-attack incidents with every passing day, my suggestion would be to ensure strict policy on regular Information Security audit & immediate gap closure. Work towards adoption of standards like ISO 27001.

Also readCIO News interviews Shri Wangki Lowang, Minister (IT) of Arunachal Pradesh

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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.


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