Here is the list of 10 elite CIO&Leader Samman Recipients...
The only woman in the list of CIO&Leader Samman recipients for 2019, Annie Mathew is among the CIOs who can be credited for setting the benchmark for an entire industry.Much before the phrase ‘digital transformation’ had become vogue, her organization, Mother Diary Fruits & Vegetables, initiated technology-leveraged change in a business, that was hitherto uninitiated to technology. In hindsight, one can probably call that one of the earliest examples of digital transformation. A large part of that credit must go to Mathew, even though her unassuming style does not let this incisive decision making ability slip through.In a business where procurements are daily and distribution happens multiple times a day, efficiency and accuracy of business processes is what makes or mars the business. She ensured that the business always remained ahead of the curve—in each of the categories that the organization operates in. Whether it is through use of sensor technologies, mobile applications for connecting thousands of distributors or the latest payment technologies, she chose the right technology at the right time to maximize value for her organization.Mathew contributed selflessly to community causes by being part of different community initiatives such as serving as jury member for selecting future IT leaders as well as in not just mentoring women IT managers but highlighting their role in all possible platforms.Mathew started her career in enterprise IT, working in companies like NOCIL and Bharat Shell and then had a stint in the IT industry before returning to corporate IT, with her current organization, where she is in her 15th year.
There are CIOs who are great implementors of technology; there are yet others who are great problem solvers. There are only a few who are strategic thinkers as well, thinking proactively about how emerging technology can create higher value for the business.Then, there is Arvind Sivaramakrishnan, who does not just do all of the above but makes his organization championing the cause of technology-driven change in the entire industry that it operates in. If Apollo Hospital today is seen as the harbinger of tech-led change in healthcare in India—not just inside the organization—you cannot but acknowledge the exemplary role played by CIO Sivaramakrishnan. The annual Transforming Healthcare with IT (THIT) international conference that Apollo Hospitals organizes successfully year after year could not have been possible without a technology leader, leading it from the front. Sivaramakrishnan is that man. Talk to him for a few minutes, you can see the passion and the clarity in thinking and his feel for the cause. We expect Sivaramakrishnan to play a bigger role as India as a nation gets ready to transform its healthcare leveraging technology.It is not just championing causes and leading with thought leadership, though. Sivaramakrishan is a pioneer in applying emerging technologies to create business value. Apollo Hospitals was one of the first healthcare provider to make use of AI and Big Data for predictive analysis in patient care. There are numerous technology intervention that the group has done, not just for bettering operational metrics but for clinical excellence and better patient care.Sivaramakrishnan has worked extensively in IT industry leaders, such as CSC and Covansys before joining the present organization, more than eight years back.
While a lot many CIOs in India do report to CFOs, VS Parthasarathy handles both the roles for his organization—one of the largest diversified business groups in India, more importantly, one that is known for proactive use of emerging technologies—be it IoT or blockchain!He is also one CIO who has had the distinction of running a business at global level. He headed the Global Markets (outside India) business of Mahindra Group. The overseas revenues of the group touched USD 1 billion during his stint. He has also headed the Strategy and M&A in the farm equipment sector for Mahindra Group, when the tractor sales of the group increased from 500 to 50,000 a year.But beyond these formal roles, Parthasarathy is a leader in true sense, for he believes in creating more, leaders. One testimony to that is the number of NEXT100 awards IT managers from Mahindra Group, win year over year.A thought leader, Parthasarathy is a great public speaker. While speaking in-depth on technology, business strategy, finance issues and policy matters, he seamlessly relies on symbols, metaphors, and inspirations from rich sources such as mythology and classic literature.Parthasarathy’s thought and vision of positive intervention extends much beyond his organization. He runs marathons for girl child education and was acknowledged as a Change Agent in Mumbai Marathon 2019. For his exemplary leadership, Parthasarathy was elected the president of Bombay Chamber of Commerce & Industry, probably the only IT leader to occupy such an important industry association post.In his long career, Parthasarathy has worked in only two organizations—Xerox and Mahindra Group. This stability has meant he has taken up newer challenges and has been able to focus on long-term objectives like people development.
Rajeev Jorapur is the textbook case of a pragmatic CIO.His thoughts, his style and his priorities as a CIO has an uncanny similarity with what experts now believe the CIO role is evolving into. In that sense, he is truly ahead of the curve.Talk to him about what should be the qualities of a great CIO, his unequivocal reply is—ability to reduce complexity and simpler ways of communicating on IT with business people.While many in his fraternity express concerns about the growing shadow IT challenge, he completely rejects the fear. He is convinced Corporate IT can still bring a lot of value by integrating these well and through good governance—yet another attribute that experts expect from CIOs of future.This also helps him to be a more effective collaborator with business managers. But his collaborative ways extends beyond the organizational boundaries. Bajaj Auto is among the very few large corporates in India that have leveraged start-ups as a strategy. In the last few years, it has evaluated more than 50 start-ups, performed PoCs on several on them and closely working with close to a dozen.Despite his tendency to prefer a collaborative approach, Jorapur is never shy of taking a tough decision. If it is for business interest, you must have the courage of conviction—the guts to execute a vision—he says.All this does not mean that technology per se takes a backseat. Bajaj Auto is one of the leading users in manufacturing industry of analytics, which it uses not just to take strategic market decisions but better manufacturing processes. In his long career, Jorapur has worked in Chemicals, Appliances industries apart from spending two decades in the automotive industry—first with Mercedes-Benz India and then with Bajaj Auto, his present organization.
Rajesh Chopra is a CIO who thinks like a business manager when it comes to his priorities & goals and thinks like a IT project manager when it comes to rolling out technology.While he can effortlessly talk about guest experience, customer loyalty and the ways and means of making the guests comfortable, he can talk with equal ease about consolidating IT, using just the right technology to deliver a specific experience—and rolling it into business metrics.Under his leadership, Oberoi Hotels & Resorts has been a leader in using technology but ask him and he would probably say ‘leader in customer experience’ leveraging technology. The sequence is pretty clear in his mind.He is the man who oversaw the entire consolidation of IT systems at the group—by retiring close to 150 disparate systems and making all of them centralized through the ERP. While getting the enterprise architecture right was the beginning, large to small technology in all aspects of business has worked towards that single goal the group is known for—customer delight. So, it is not technology but the innovative application of it that sets his priorities. Technology could be very basic to cutting-edge. It could be connecting cars through GPS to hotels or providing Wi-Fi in hotel cars to simple room automation. It could also be application of complex analytics or latest robotics technology to give the experience that each customer expects. No wonder, his all-time favorite book is Good to Great, by Jim Collins.In his career spanning more than 30 years, Chopra has worked in companies like Samsung and Montari before joining Oberoi Group, where he is heading the IT function for more than eight years.
One of the few CIOs to be part of the board of a very large Indian company, Rajesh Uppal is a highly respected leader within the CIO community. One can gauge that from the way even some senior CIOs scramble to shake hands and have a word with him in any CIO gathering.What gives Uppal this respectability is not just his status as a board member in a large company or that he handles responsibilities more than IT, but the way he articulates his thoughts and makes them sound so simple. And each of these thoughts come from his experience—been there, done that—than best-selling management idea books.Ask him about the role of IT and the answers sound deceptively simple—sometimes, even cliché: Understand your business thoroughly, look proactively at tech landscape and look for innovation opportunities and create value. That is as generic it could be.But the difference between other leaders and Uppal is that each of the word that comes from his has been put into practice. Take innovation. A few years ago, when everybody was what bi-modal IT could mean, Uppal silently picked up a Mode 2 IT team whose brief was to look proactively at emerging technologies and, in consultation with business, create use cases for them. Last December, in a Big Tech Fest, the team showcased the tech that have already been put to use while displaying the newer ones that they are working on.His priorities too sound simple. Give customer choice. Empathize. Bring about change proactively. Collaborate.Uppal still strives to ‘be a better leader’ and ‘create more and more leaders’ within the organization.In the recently reconstituted board of Maruti Suzuki, Uppal continues as an important member of the board.
If there was an award for the most affable and warm CIO in the fraternity, Srinivas Tata, the Group CIO of Kalptaru Group, will be a serious claimant. Easy going, humble and friendly, Tata, demands respect from peers, partners and others associated with the community.Yet, behind this humble smiling face, lies a very clear and incisive mind about how he wants to use technology to create value for the business. His understanding of the organizational business priorities—both strategic and tactical—is extremely clear. It sounds even more credible considering that, unlike many in this honour list, he has been with his present company, for only three years. That said, he has been largely in the infrastructure business for some of his past assignments.With his kind of personality, collaboration with business comes quite naturally to him. Unlike in more tech-mature businesses like financial services or IT services or retail, in infrastructure industries, the senior managers are not so tech savvy and they have to be convinced what is in it for them when a CIO goes with a new solution. Yet, to his credit, he has quite effectively, to sell the IT solutions to them. No wonder, Calestous Juma’s Innovation and Its Enemies - Why People Resist New Technologies is his favorite book. A great believer in the power of data, he has, in the past, talked about data as the game changer for any business. And he has strived to put his belief into practice.Tata loves books, Golf, movies and spending time with family. Before joining Kalpataru Group, Tata has worked in Essar Projects, Adani Ports & SEZ and Lear Corporation.
Suresh Kumar is a CIO who has traversed the typical IT professional’s path. Starting his career with public sector and then moving to other roles in the IT industry, he switched to the enterprise user side in 2001 and has spent close to two decades with the highly knowledge-intensive consulting industry.As a partner and CIO at Grant Thornton, he gets to learn from the experience from the customers and is completely focused on where he wants to take his company. Working to completely migrate the business to cloud, he is working on multiple emerging technologies, focusing on maximizing value for business from those investments. The new technologies include mobile applications, analytics, artificial intelligence, not to forget security, which is very critical for a high-on-intellectual-property business like his.A thorough technology hand, Kumar, however, considers the CIOs’ belief that just technology depth will give them the edge as a myth. He continuously strives to better understand the needs of the customers and tries to think of technology that will effectively meet those needs.Kumar’s plan is to turn an entrepreneur and one book on the subject he really likes is Ronnie Screwvala’s Dream with Your Eyes Open- An Entrepreneurial Journey.Kumar has worked in Ramco, NIIT, and KPMG before joining Grant Thornton as the CIO and Partner.
Rarely do leadership, strategic thinking and detail orientation come together. Umesh Mehta, Global CIO of Jubilant Life Sciences is one rare example of such a leader who combines all three.In addition to this, Mehta’s empathy and tact make him a great people person. It is difficult to find a senior IT leader in India who does not know Mehta or is not known to him. His commitment to the cause of community is extraordinary. For more than three years, he served as the president of CIO Klub Delhi chapter while for last two years, he has been serving as the president of its governing body.His high level of energy, calmness, great tact and negotiation skills and a solid understanding of not just the technologies that his team works in, but also the emerging tech landscape make him an all round leader who can be expected to deliver and lead, consistently.Always available for community causes, Mehta has also served as a member of NEXT100 jury for multiple years.While known outside for his contribution to the community, Mehta internally is respected as an astute IT leader who effectively supported Jubilant’s migration from B2B to B2C by smartly creating a seamless tech platform for the field workforce.Mehta has worked in Mother Dairy Fruits & Vegetables, JBM Group, Asia Motor Works, Case New Holland (Fiat) India before joining his present organization where he has been leading IT function for more than eight years.
A hugely respected IT leader, Vijay Sethi is one of the few IT leaders to be on the board of a large company in India. Apart from IT, he handles HR as well as Corporate Social Responsibility for Hero MotoCorp. He particularly enjoys the new role around CSR a lot.Sethi is a leader, who leads from the front, gets into details when necessary but gives a lot of free hand to his team members and are always there to support them.Large manufacturing is now looking beyond the typical efficiency enhancements and better supply chains. As it embraces the Fourth Industrial Revolution—where physical, digital and cognitive combine to create significant business value—many forward looking companies are traversing the path of digital transformation. In automotive, which is simultaneously shedding its heavy manufacturing-orientation to become savvy customer focused companies, dimension of that change is multi-pronged. It is to the credit of Sethi that he has led this process of transformation at Hero MotoCorp from the front—leveraging emerging technologies like IoT, digital twins, robotic process automation, and augmented reality and virtual reality. Some CoEs such as those on Blockchain, AI, and ML are in place and the company has identified/figuring out use cases that can maximize business value. This approach comes from Sethi’s high emphasis on experimentation; failure is just another way of learning, he says.Looking further, he is clear that predictive analytics and customer experience will drive his business. That could be challenging as Sethi thinks the customers three years hence will be completely different from the customers that companies have dealt with a couple of years back and personalization at products and service level will be a given.Senior IT leaders in many organizations turn to Sethi for advice. He has worked in organizations like Ranbaxy and TCS before joining Hero MotoCorp more than a decade back.