Y2K taught me adaptability and resilience: Yatish Shivaprasad

Yatish Shivaprasad, Managing Director & Head of Corporate Functions Technology at Societe Generale Global Solution Centre, in a conversation with Jatinder Singh, Executive Editor, CIO&Leader.

“Initially, technology served as a facilitator for business operations. However, it has now become indispensable, forming the backbone of modern enterprises.”

Yatish Shivaprasad, Managing Director & Head of Corporate Functions Technology at Societe Generale Global Solution Centre

Beginning his journey at Siemens in 1998, Yatish Shivaprasad now serves as the Managing Director and head of Corporate Functions Technology at Societe Generale Global Solution Centre, where he directs a team of over 1,300 specialists. His leadership spans India and Romania, emphasizing the development of IT solutions and strategic offshoring operations for finance, risk, and HR applications.

With over two decades of tenure in the tech industry, Yatish has managed a diverse array of technologies, including open source, big data, AI/ML, UX/UI, data warehousing, and traditional tech stacks. His academic credentials from IIM Calcutta and NIT Karnataka highlight a robust foundation in technology and business management.

Renowned for his people-first leadership and keen understanding of complex business issues, Yatish advocates using varied technologies and process improvements to drive efficiency and innovation. 

In a recent conversation with Jatinder Singh, Executive Editor of CIO&Leader, he shared insights into his career, detailing the challenges he has overcome, the technological evolution he has observed, and his approach to leadership over the past two decades. 

Excerpts from the interaction.

CIO&Leader:  How has the evolution of technology from the dot-com era to the era of AI shaped your perspective? Which specific projects have left a profound impact on your understanding of technology during this transformative period?

Yatish: It’s been a transformative journey, spanning about 22 years in the industry. We witnessed rapid advancements at the onset of the IT boom, with new technological models emerging every two years. The relevant skills then have evolved, requiring constant adaptation to emerging technologies.

CIO&Leader: What were the key moments that have shaped this journey?

Yathish: I’ve experienced moments like addressing the Y2K problem and navigating through the dot-com and digital transformation eras. The integration of social media and mobile platforms further accelerated technological evolution, culminating in the rise of AI. Each wave brought challenges and opportunities, keeping us on our toes in the IT landscape. One standout project from my early career was during the pivotal period around 2000. At that time, I had just graduated from engineering, and the industry was grappling with the Y2K problem and transitioning away from mainframe dependency. 

This period marked a significant transformation in how businesses approached technology, and participating in projects aimed at modernizing legacy systems was both challenging and rewarding. It taught me the importance of adaptability and resilience in the face of technological change, setting the stage for my ongoing professional growth.

CIO & Leader:  You mentioned the shift from technology being an enabler to becoming a pillar for businesses. How has this transition impacted your approach to technology?

Yathish: Initially, technology served as a facilitator for business operations. However, it has now become indispensable, forming the backbone of modern enterprises. This shift has compelled us to adapt and innovate continuously, ensuring that technology aligns seamlessly with business objectives. We’ve witnessed the emergence of new languages at the forefront of technological evolution. While some languages may lose relevance, staying updated and embracing emerging technologies is essential. Adapting to these changes ensures that we remain agile and equipped to tackle evolving challenges in the IT industry.

CIO&Leader:  How do you suggest managing the potential skill gap and talent challenges posed by rapid technological advancements?

Yathish: Addressing the skill gap and talent challenges requires a comprehensive approach. Firstly, organizations must invest in robust upskilling, reskilling, and cross-skilling programs to ensure their workforce remains relevant and adaptable. Secondly, fostering a culture of continuous learning and exploration within the organization is crucial. This includes mentorship programs, learning opportunities, and creating an environment where employees feel empowered to explore new avenues. Finally, recognizing and valuing individuals’ diverse experiences and expertise is essential. Everyone brings unique strengths; organizations should leverage this diversity to drive innovation and growth.

CIO&Leader:  Do you foresee a potential threat to traditional skill sets due to the rise of AI and automation?

Yathish: There are multiple facets to consider in addressing this question. Firstly, it’s essential to recognize that disruptive transformations, like the growth of AI and automation, are inevitable and here to stay. Therefore, adaptation is critical. Secondly, we must carefully apply these technologies where they are essential, considering factors such as confidentiality, security, impact, and value. Thirdly, there’s an ethical dimension to be mindful of. 

We should approach these disruptive technologies with an ethical framework, ensuring they are applied responsibly and aligned with our values. It’s essential to remember that when someone writes a paper or contributes content, we’re seeking their unique insights and perspectives, not merely a summarized output from AI models. Hence, context greatly determines where and how we deploy these technologies.

CIO&Leader:  What advice would you offer to young professionals entering the IT field amidst these rapid technological changes?

Yathish: For young professionals entering the IT field, I would offer the following advice:

  • Embrace opportunities as they come; every experience contributes to your growth and development.
  • Be adaptable and open to change as the IT landscape evolves rapidly.
  • Practice patience and resilience, as success often requires perseverance through challenges and setbacks.
  • Value every experience, regardless of its immediate outcome, as each experience offers valuable lessons and insights for your career journey.

CIO & Leader:  How will technology impact enterprises in the next few years, and what strategies do you recommend for navigating this future landscape?

Yathish: Looking into the future, the next few years are expected to witness more profound changes driven by automation, AI, and technological advancements. We’ll witness a significant shift towards automation, with machines increasingly handling mundane tasks. Human expertise will be directed toward tasks that require creativity, critical thinking, and emotional intelligence. Organizations must prioritize adaptability, agility, and ethical responsibility to navigate this future landscape. This includes investing in technologies strategically, fostering a culture of innovation and continuous learning, and prioritizing ethical considerations in technology deployment. Additionally, staying abreast of regulatory developments and industry trends will be crucial for staying ahead in this rapidly evolving technological landscape.

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