Just about a decade back, there were less than half a dozen people in India with the designation chief information officer. Today, CIOs are the most visibleif not always the most powerfulexecutives in many enterprises. The rise and rise of the CIO within an enterprise is, to a large extent, a global phenomenon; but arguably the rise has been faster and more visible in India. To that end, something about the phenomenon is fairly desi.
The rise of CIOs globally is a well-discussed phenomenon. The importance of information in all businessesright from auto components to aviationhas grown manifold and so has the role of information technology. This has made the job of CIOs one of the most important ones in enterprises, across the world.
The late but sudden ascent of IT people in the corporate hierarchy in India has some more tactical, but important reasons behind it.
First reason is Indias comparatively late growth story, which helped its businesses to leapfrog legacy business practices. India became an important player in global business only after the Narasimha Rao government initiated large-scale reforms and the Bharatiya Janata Party (which incidentally has a designated CIO) continued with those reforms aggressively. This created a conducive environment for Indian businesses to grow, almost half a decade after Indias independence. This made Indian enterprises competing with information right from day one, thus raising ITs profile in enterprises. That created fast growth opportunities for CIOs.
What also helped Indian businesses is the availability of people with the right blend of technology expertise and business acumen. Many of todays CIOs come from companies like TCS, Wipro, HCL and NIIT, where they have balanced between tech and business roles. The fact that Indian companies looked at IT as a growth enabler rather than a tool to minimize cost (as in the West) meant that IT practices from the West could not be borrowed as it is from the developed markets. This created opportunities for IT heads to create solutions from scratch, understanding the unique requirements in India, though technology was no different. This gave them exposure to business early in the career, thus making them better CIOs to take up real strategic roles.
Also, the fact that Indias growth has been driven by services is another important reason for rise of ITs profile within organization.
Finally, India as a major offshoring destination meant new ideas came to India fairly early. For example, no other developing market in the world has gone for strategic total outsourcing so aggressively as many of the Indian companies have done. This has forced CIOs to think more like business people and less like IT delivery guys.
Many other CXOs, however, complain that CIOs are more visible than they are powerful. While that may be true to some extent, the ability to make visible difference to business has of late given them enough power as well.
The DQ CIO Powerlist is a compilation of profiles of 50 such people who have most definitely made a difference to businesses of their respective organizations (present as well as past). They are not merely powerful; some of them are influential as well. They are observed, admired and followed. Some of them are celebrities in their own right. Some of them are more known; some lesser known. Some are high profile, some are not. But one thing is common to all: they have made an impact through IT.
The list has been prepared by a panel comprising three of Dataquest editorial team members and three external consultants, from the industry.
We follow the powerlist with a separate list of Aspirants and one Hall of Fameof people who are no longer active CIOs but their contribution in the recent past is difficult to overlook. While writing profiles we have used a mix of methods to collect information: we have interacted with the CIOs, used inputs from earlier interactions, and used factual data from secondary sources.
Man of Steel
A post-graduate in chemistry from Delhi University, Ajay Kumar Dhir has never regretted the decision to get into IT. And that too at a time when computers were new and programming was less of a career and more of an adventure. He has successfully handled IT and systems responsibilities in many large corporations. While he attributes his success to hard work, he is unequivocal about sharing the credit with his wife, who, he says, has smoothly and effectively handled the responsibilities at home, in his own long absences.
|Ajay Kumar Dhir group CIO, Jindal Stainless|
Packing IT In
Starting off as a consultant with TCS, Adenwala used his analytical skills to move to SKF Bearings, one of the leading packaging and container companies, where he went on to head the IT function.
|Zoeb Adenwala, CIO, Essel Propack|
After a short stint as head of IT at Pidilite, Adenwala joined Essel Propack, one of the worlds leading packaging firms that has a turnover of over $300 mn. One of the key achievements of Adenwala has been to align the disparate IT infrastructure spread across twenty five manufacturing units in thirteen countries. Over the past few years, Adenwala has been focusing on putting in BI systems and processes in place, so as to ensure the continued dominance of his firm.
As someone who began as a finance professional, Chauhan has managed to achieve what many technology experts do not achieve in a lifetime.
At a very early stage in his career, Chauhan was involved with setting up Indias first commercial satellite telecom network and also the screen-based trading system. Once the project was successfully rolled out, Chauhan was designated as the head of business and operations for the equities market in NSE. This incidentally became the largest exchange in India within eleven months of operations and over a period, the third largest exchange in the world by trade volume.
|Ashish Chauhan group CIO, Reliance Industries|
After a short stint as an entrepreneur, Chauhan joined Reliance Infocomm where once again he was responsible for sorting out the contentious bill-related issues. Incidentally, even though Chauhan was involved with technology right from the start of his career, it was at Reliance where he was formally assigned the designation of a CIO.
Rajesh Uppal has handheld Maruti Udyogs IT through its evolution right from the nascent systems to its current set-up that enables one car out of the stable every 28 seconds.
Uppal has effectively created a strong IT team and groomed senior managers to handle technology decisions. With his team in place, Uppal has identified his role around business alignment of IT. This has got further crystallized with the addition sales and dispatch to his IT portfolio.
|Rajesh Uppal, chief GM, IT, Maruti Udyog|
Through this journey from operations to impact, Uppal has done it allmarket the idea to business, get managements buy in, propose solutions and implement them, et al. True to his unassuming self, he insists that even though he has built credibility and is part of top management, he still makes a business case for IT projects before getting budgets. The strong manufacturing processes enabled by IT at Maruti are seen as a benchmark by the industry.
Gadre began his career as a maintenance engineer in 1973, and is still confident of servicing a valve and a pump with his own hands. After completing his IIM he joined Tata Economic Consultancy Services, which was followed by a stint of more than 10 years with Garware Polyester. Here is where he had his first encounter with IT. Gadre feels that since he looked after strategic planning in addition to playing the role of a CIO, he is in a good position to ensure that IT policies are aligned with corporate strategies.
|Vikas Gadre, CIO, Tata Chemicals|
I take pride in the fact that during my decade-old tenure here, there has not been a single instance of threat attack on the network, says Atul Kumar. A banker for the last 18 years, Kumar began his journey with UBI and moved on to the State Bank group. But it was at Syndicate Bank that Kumar turned his attention to making the banking network secure by implementing the Network Intrusion Prevention system. He also built a team of security professionals for monitoring the network 24x7. His other projects include the Unified Threat management system and automated patch management. Kumars latest interest is investment and merchant banking.
|Atul Kumar, assistant GM, IT, Syndicate Bank|
He is the classic example of someone coming in from a dissimilar background and making it big in another industry. A mechanical engineer, Bose had a leaning toward IT.
But what makes Bose stand out is his ability to perform beyond the expected and play a critical role in the organizations growth. Perhaps it is this that prompted the management to assign him the role of a CIO and HR head. Bose is essaying the two roles with relative ease. His efforts have surely paid off with IT becoming a core part of Haldias business strategy.
|Anjan Bose, CIO, head, HR & senior VP, Haldia Petrochemical|
The CEO Aspirant
Beginning his journey in sales and going on to become a CIO, Venkat Iyer has successfully managed to utilize technology for business growth. Iyers entry into IT was rather unplanned when he was asked to take over the IT functions at Canon, USA where he joined after his MBA (Information Systems). Iyers major professional achievement, as he puts it, was when he was able to make a difference to the lives of the rural people. This was while working at Gujarat Energy where he introduced the smokeless choolah.
His ultimate dream: to become a CEO. As traditionally CEOs have come from the sales or finance side, itll be interesting to see how an IT person rises to the occasion.
|Venkat Iyer, director, business technology & distribution, Pfizer|
The Risk Taker
For Dhiren Savla a successful CIO is one who the business believes in and trusts. True to that belief, he sees himself as a business person who knows IT rather than an IT person.
In his own words, he never wanted to get complacent in a jobwhether it was DSP Merrill Lynch; a local brokerage house SSKI; IL&FS; or the relatively unknown VFS, Kuonis BPO operations. Savlas appetite for taking risks has made him join smaller organizations and build them from scratch.
At Kuoni too he has spearheaded the revamp and centralizing of the complete IT set-up. In fact, the company has grown four times in the last five years, of which he has been associated with it for a good four.
With Kuonis multiple acquisitions, Savla faced the challenge of integrating multiple systems, and centralizing and standardizing them. We had to cope up with the challenge of growth, while simultaneously optimizing the operations, he adds. As the group CIO for Kuoni in India and South Asia and worldwide for VFS, Savla is now working on the two key projects of e-learning and Future Business, and the IT architecture project targeted at standardization and consolidation of infrastructure and applications. His guiding philosophy through all this: use technology for business.
|Dhiren Savla, CIO, Kuoni Travels (India)|
Dial IT for Outsourcing
This engineer from IIT Delhi defined the entire outsourcing paradigm for the Indian market. He was the architect of the famous 10-year Bharti-IBM outsourcing deal worth $750 mn, which went on to become a benchmark and triggered the domestic outsourcing wave so to say.
Starting as a researcher with IBM Research Labs, Menon feels that while he would never go back to pure R&D, he would continue to be a techie and innovator at heart, Bharti has afforded him this opportunity. With his CIO role, hes also spearheaded the launch of Airtel enterprise service SBU; and has been responsible for alliances with BlackBerry, Apple, Google, Microsoft, etc. Over the last few months, he has taken up the customer service portfolio, one of the most critical areas for any telecom company. In his own words, hes on a crusade to fundamentally transform the BPO business model and transform the customer service area from effort orientation to outcome orientation
|Jai Menon, group CIO, Bharti Enterprises|
Vijay Sethi has seen both sidesthe vendor and the user. This has not just helped him enhance his CIO role, hes also been able to appreciate the other sidethe vendors and consultantsbetter.
The seven and half year stint with TCS helped in many critical ways. The appreciation for processes has been ingrained into his basic work philosophy and is helping him immensely with his responsibilities at Hero Honda. At Ranbaxy, working with a truly global organization was a high in itself. As Sethi says, We were at the central point, setting up policies and guidelines for other countries operations. That helped in improving my professional skills and gave me creative satisfaction.
When he moved to Hero Honda in 2007, Sethi wanted to experience the challenge of moving to the auto industry at a time when it was going through a rough patch. Reason: in the growth phase a lot of inefficiencies are hidden. When theres a problem then one really starts looking for inefficiencies and removing them using IT as a strategic driver.
|Vijay Sethi, VP, information system, Hero Honda|
Distis IT Face
Clynton Almeida, the young and energetic CIO at Redington has played an instrumental role in shaping the companys IT infrastructure. Under his technology leadership the company has ramped up its IT backbone to a whole new level. Some of the significant initiatives Clynton spearheaded at Redington in the last few years were the CRM deployment which integrated the companies pre-sales activities across branches, and also enabled it to assess the market potential in terms of how it is placed against competition. Redington is a strong customer-focused organization, and that called for interaction with its customers and potential customers in the best possible way.
|Clynton Almeida, CIO, Redington India|
Sehgals story is that of a person coming up through the ranks with his grit, expertise and resilience. Starting his journey as a clerk, Sehgal has come a long way. When in 2003 SBI decided to computerize all the branches, he was called to head the team. In a span of seven months, more than 9,000 branches were computerized. Thereafter, he was involved in computerizing all foreign offices on a single platform in 2004. He also spent one year with SBIs joint venture with TCS during its formative year. Since end-2006, Sehgal is looking at the core banking process at SBI. Sehgal is also known for his passion for the environment and has aided a number of projects.
|SK Sehgal, GM, IT, State Bank of India|
IT Comes AUTOmatically
For Hilal Khan success lies in managing people and their expectations, and change. And hes done that with great aplomb. Today he is not only the CIO for Honda Motors but is also heading the corporate and strategic IT decisions for the other group companies of Honda in India.
For Khan the bigger challenges are constantly living by his definition of a successful CIO: one who has optimized the use of IT, and impacted the bottomline (not just the topline).
|Hilal Khan, head, corporate SIS, Honda Motor India|
Jha has many firsts to his credit: the conception and implementation of South East Asias first Broadcast Media Asset Management System for the Essel Group; launching the mobile platform 57575, one of Indias largest short code platform; and associated with launching Indias first live and interactive gaming TV channel, www.myplaywin.com and www.page3flicks.com.
Jha is now heading a digital media venture, DMCL, funded by the Essel Group. As a CEO of the company, he is bringing to fore all his technology acumen and innovative streak.
|Ishwar Jha, senior VP, Zee Entertainment Enterprise|
VK Ramani joined then UTI Bank in 1995 during its inception and has since heralded its evolution to the present day state-of-the-art IT infrastructure. He was part of the management team for setting up the IT systems. Since then he has been successfully leveraging technology for transforming the banking systems. The IT systems rolled-out by him have helped the bank in delivering a range of services in the areas of retail, corporate, treasury and BI. Ramani has also led the channel diversification initiative for retail banking in the company.
|VK Ramani, CIO, Axis Bank|
Anantha Sayana played a crucial role when L&T decided to spawn off a separate division under the aegis of L&T Infotech. He has taken up various roles since then ranging from manager to CIO. He is renowned for helping reshape L&T into a modern dynamic company.
Sayana currently heads corporate IT at L&T and is directly responsible for realization of optimum benefits from IT and devising IT strategies. He has received many awards and has also been a past president of the Indian chapter of ISACA.
|Anantha Sayana, head, corporate IT, L&T|
The Crossover Kid
Chowdhurys story is that of a quintessential tech guy who gravitated toward the management side before finally returning to tech again. After a BTech from IIT Kanpur, he went for a MS from Carnegie Mellon. He then felt the need to understand the business side as well. Thus came a doctorate in Management from Carnegie Mellon. His professional life also mirrors this shift, starting off as a project engineer with Philips India to being a director at KPMG, and managing director at BearingPoint. In 2006, Reliance ADAG appointed him CIO for their telecommunications company. At Reliance Chowdhury is putting his diverse knowledge to best use. He has been responsible for bringing in OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) in the country. He is also regarded as an expert on green.
|Sumit Chowdhury CIO, Reliance Communication|
Adman @ IT
His profile is quite unusual for a CIO. An ex-navy personnel, Ray DSouza heads the IT at advertising agency Lowe Lintas. The advertising industry spending less on IT was one of the biggest challenges he overcame successfully. He also has the distinction of making the company the first advertising agency in India which implemented an ERP system. He was also instrumental in implementing WAN and VoIP across the agency, and set up a knowledge management system at Lintas. He has been a votary of improving productivity through technology usage.
|Ray DSouza, director of systems & technology, Lowe Lintas|
A POWERful Man
Dinesh Kumar is a man who thrives on challenges, and NTPC has afforded him plenty. Even the scale of challenges and opportunities at NTPC are large, and Kumar has never faced the difficulty of running out of things to do.
Among the biggest challenges that Kumar conquered are: making IT mainstream and making the company depend on IT. Kumar has been responsible for the shift in top managements mindset regarding IT. And, with respect to NTPCs complete dependence on IT, he is more than half way through it. He has been instrumental in keeping the company at the leading edge of technology adoption, whether it be usage of satellite based communication in 1982 or ERP in 2003or most recently, videoconferencing.
|Dinesh Kumar, executive director, IT, NTPC|
At heart Pendse is essentially a non-conformist; throughout his professional life, he has been known to go beyond the mundane. His current job as the CIO at HCC, where he has gone in for the high-profile digital asset management to manage disparate offices across India, explains that. In fact, he was among the few Indian CIOs to have actively used RFID technology for asset management. Pendse was leading the IT function at various companies like Kuoni, Jet, and Marico before joining HCC.
|Satish Pendse, CIO, Hindustan Construction Company|
Shyamsunder took over the IT role in Britannia after handling several other responsibilities. His biggest contribution: to convince the management to outsource the IT infrastructure to HP. As a matter of fact, Britannia is the first FMCG company in India to comprehensively outsource infrastructure solutions, SAP application services, and consulting, among others. He created an IT strategy at Britannia, and also oversaw the implementation of all modules of SAPbig bang, multi-location networkingin a record time of under a year, with no cost and time overrun.
|P Shyam Sunder, VP, quality and head of IT, Britannia Industries|
It was at Elbee that Gariba understood ITs role as a change agent. He has been instrumental in driving Elbee Express from a small-time logistics player to one of the leading Indian logistics companies. Gariba has always been known as the implementer of large scale IT projects, and some at Elbee include CRM; mobility; centralizing call center operations; and eTABS, a Web portal to automate processes at Elbee.
Gariba is one of the founders of the CIO Klub and currently acts as a secretary for the group. He is a commerce graduate with training in software development and financial management. He has a rich experience spanning 21 years, across various industries.
|Shirish Gariba, Cio, Elbee Express|
Jhinga La La
He may well be the first CIO who has worked as a scientist in the Department of Electronics for seven years before moving on to the private sector. His first stint at United International saw him working on core technical areas like Oracle DBA. His affair with the telecom sector began when he joined Tata Communications as senior manager IT. Perangur considers himself fortunate that in all organizations where he has worked he has been able to drive growth by successfully integrating IT with business. His latest assignment at Tata Sky has seen him working on SOA for seamless interface across applications.
|Chakrapani Perangur, CIO, Tata Sky|
Delivering on Time
Projects and products dont fail, people do, believes Ravikumar. Recalled by Gati in 2000 for making a failed project successful, Ravikumar had a lot of expectations riding on his shoulders. Responsible for designing, developing and implementing customized ERP across 300 locations including some remote places, was a challenge. And like a true champion he delivered. Not one to rest on past achievements, he went ahead and implemented Gati at Web which moved applications from client-server based set-up onto the Web. Ravikumar is credited with making Gati one of the few highly automated courier companies in India.
|GS Ravikumar, CIO, GATI|
The Greenfield Guy
Rajesh Chopra has mostly been associated with greenfield projectsstarting with Polyplex corporation to Montari Industries leading up to Samsung. The satisfaction of seeing things happen in front of his eyessetting it up, bringing it to maturity and witnessing the difference it makes to businessgives him immense satisfaction.
Chopra agrees that being associated with greenfield projects has its risks but the projects have also afforded him the advantage of designing his own processes and structure. At Samsung, Chopra has been responsible for scaling up IT to support the companys huge growth.
systems, Samsung India
(I)T in ICICI
His tryst with technology started at the SBI, where he worked for 23 years and was closely involved in a lot of activities including setting up the first regional computerized center for north India in Jaipur, followed by heading the Delhi circle with 900 branches. He was also involved in technology integration of SBIs north American operations.
But it is what he did at ICICI that is the jewel in his crown. In a short span of six years he has managed to put ICICI in the big league in terms of technology. What is known as core banking today, is what Vohra started during early 2000 at ICICI. He consolidated and centralized the banking operations so that customers could have the same look and feel of the services that they get across the country. He has been closely involved with the banks IT strategy, innovation, enterprise architecture, and process automation.
|Pravir Vohra group CTO, ICICI|
After his post graduation, Sharma did research work in the area of applied physics. At IDBI he was instrumental in laying the IT foundation. Sharma has been credited with many firsts in the banking fraternity, as IDBI was the first to introduce ATM locator on MMS, first ATM with audio instructions, first e-tax collection system, etc. Sharma is now heading IT for the merged IDBI group.
|Sanjay Sharma, head, IT, IDBI Bank|
He has the knack for low cost technology implementations, but Avinash Arora has been at the cutting edge of technology adoption many a times. He was among the first to adopt Web services, enterprise mobility technology, the e-catalogue application or in-the-pipeline comprehensive unified communications system.
For Arora the ultimate aim is to ensure cost effective, user-friendly IT systems that bring agility in the whole business process. He has maintained this guiding mantra through his different stints, and is credited with setting up IT systems from scratch. Making this possible is his constant endeavor to study different industries and use the learnings.
|Avinash Arora, director (India & SE Asia), Information Systems, New Holland Tractors India|
Keeping IT Thanda
Beginning his career with GSK Consumer Healthcare as a programmer analyst, Sanjay Rawal swiftly moved up the ranks handling diverse roles like infrastructure, applications and yes, IT.
Rawal joined Coca Cola heading IT for its India operation wherein it is more of a business engagement role as he puts it. As someone who knows the benefits of technology for organizational growth, Rawal implemented BI for daily sales of bottles across fifty locations, which go to a centralized location for daily sales report generation.
As bottling units are a critical business segment, Rawal is now involved with standardizing the bottling franchisees for bringing them on an ERP platform across locations and putting a common set of processes in place. Growth of our business partners ensures our growth as well, reveals Rawal.
|Sanjay Rawal, CIO Coca Cola India|
Master of All
From Engine Market Research Bureau and power transmission towers constructions company to FMCG and healthcare companies, G Radhakrishna Pillai has dabbled in diverse industries.
According to him, the vast experience not only helped in learning different technologies but also helped in understanding business and different profiles of people. At Super Religare Laboratories, Pillai led the implementation of its core system, the centralized lab operation system. Some aspects of the system like the remote report delivery printing and report delivery on the Web have been among the firsts in healthcare IT systems.
Today as the chief information officer of Super Religare Laboratories (formerly SRL Ranbaxy) and of Religare Wellness (formerly, Fortis HealthWorld), Pillai is juggling the task of managing the expectations, requirements and different sets of issues of the multiple stakeholders that the IT systems have to deal wit namely the doctors, patients, franchisees, scientific and other support systems.
|G Radhakrishna Pillai, CIO, Super Religare Laboratories & Religare Wellness|
Ashok Kumar Wahi is what most CIOs today badly want to be: a business leader in his own right. While Wahi has held CIO functions in many large enterprises, he has handled an equal number of other responsibilities including HR, business development, corporate planning, consulting, and BPO operations.
I have never been a functional person, he says, If you think only about technology and products, you feel the rest of the world is irrational. But the reality is that nothing is wholly right or wholly wrong. Nothing is wholly black or white.
|Ashok Wahi, head, strategic Initiatives, Aksh Optifibers|
Sustaining IT Countrywide
Back in 2004, Bagdadi was the third person to join CFC India Services. Since then, he has been involved in building and managing secured technology, enabling infrastructure framework, interconnectivity, and expanding his technology team. It was here that he achieved the huge task of building and managing a highly secured technology infrastructure and grew it at multiple geographical levels ensuring a risk-free operation for the parent company related to back end-transaction processing.
Bagdadi has implemented many large projects in CFC including ERP, WAN, CRM and software development support facilities. He has also built IT infrastructure for three BPOs in the last four years.
|Anwar Bagdadi, SVP And CTO, CFC India|
Retails Tech Face
The RPG Group has been one of the early movers in the retail space with brands like Foodworld, but it was Spencers which spread its wing across major cities. It would not have been possible without creating and managing appropriate IT infrastructure. The technology face of the RPG group is Amit Mukherjee who, in a short span of about 2 years, has ensured that all retail formats (stores, Books & Beyond and Music World) of RPGs business, runs smoothly providing a high degree of customer satisfaction.
Apart from retail, he is also the one who spearheaded Saregama, becoming Indias first media-entertainment company to implement SAP solutions for its intellectual property management. A veteran of 17 years, Mukherjee is a post graduate in computer science. As the head of Reliance Energys business application team, he was instrumental in building an integrated new billing and customer care system in a record 12 months, hugely enhancing the companys service levels. He also worked briefly for SAP as a solution architect and at HP as the head of its services business for the manufacturing vertical.
|Amit Mukherjee, group CIO, RPG Enterprises|
XX Challenger in a XY World
In an age when mathematics was the nemesis of all girls, Madbhavi graduated in statistics and went on to do a post graduation in Applied Mathematics from Carleton University. At a time when women in the IT industry were hard to come by, Madbhavi began her career with TCS and worked her way up to become a CIO in 10 years time.
As a hands-on CIO who is tuned into her users requirements, Madbhavi has also worked on the HR Information System project. With IT driving business at FCB Ulka, the last 11 years have been extremely satisfying for Madbhavi. A hands-on CIO, she does not sit back waiting for users to ask for automation, but goes ahead and asks them what they want.
|Ritu Madbhavi, VP, IT, FCB Ulka|
Cyber Age Arjuna
When I started out on the field, I always wanted to be like the EDP manager who works in a glass cabin, says Arun Gupta. And like Arjuna, never losing sight of his goal, Gupta took measured steps and transformed the way companies function.
Beginning his career as a customer service engineer at NELCO, he moved to OMC Computers where he installed the first UNIX machine for commercial computing. At Great Eastern Shipping he automated the bulk carrier division, tanker division, and the real estate operations bringing the company at the cutting-edge of IT adoption. At Great Eastern he implemented Oracle Financials in India for the first time.
His claim to fame however was his tenure at Pfizer where he created systems for the field force. Gupta was also involved with setting up centers of excellence in India and was responsible for conceptualizing new systems. One of his key contributions was the India sourcing strategy for Pfizer globally.
In each of his earlier stints Gupta has learned vital lessons that have made him what he is today. Hes learnt that in IT business comes first; process is vital; information in time is critical; and IT works 24x7. Gupta has helped Shoppers Stop across their business interests spanning department stores, hypermarkets, bookstores, and many specialty retail formats.
|Arun Gupta, group CTO, Shoppers Stop|
The Outsourcing Pioneer
Outsourcing has been the key mantra of Bank of India thanks to the efforts of PA Kalyansunder, the IT head of the bank. He believes in concentrating on core competency while outsourcing the rest. It all began with outsourcing Bank of Indias ATM operations, which was followed by one of the biggest IT outsourcing deals in the Indian banking sector. Bank of India outsourced its IT infrastructure to HP to further strengthen its stated objective of providing anytime and any branch banking. Five hundred and fifty branches were integrated in a record 475 days. The decision to outsource, however, were guided by pressure from competitionboth the Indian private banks and MNCs. He was closely involved with the banks green initiative also. Due to frequent power shortage, the bank started a pilot project on solar power which has been a success.
|PA Kalyansunder, GM, IT, Bank of India|
Three Decade Young
Been there, done that is how one can put the three decade journey of Bihag Lalaji in a few words. Joining as a resident engineer, Lalaji moved on to Wockhardt where he initiated computerization by automating the distribution system and decentralizing it. In his next stint at Merind, he moved the batch system to online and decentralized the EDP systems. Working for the last 12 years at Ambuja, Lalaji implemented SAP in a record time of 14 months for 2,500 users. The challenge was to bring on eight different platforms on a single system; user training; and to switch from old to new system, Lalaji says.
With building strong teams another of his forte, Lalaji has now moved on to a different role bringing together a team for SAP training and first line support.
|Bihag Lalaji, VP (information technology), Ambuja Cement|
He Means Business
He has helped transform the way IT is managed at TVS Group. He created a mechanism for vendor selection based on strenuous parameters including customer feedback. Technology has played an important role in helping two TVS entitiesTVS Motor and Sundaram-Claytonto grow their business. He was closely involved in eight successful SAP implementations in his organization with the inhouse team. He facilitated the in-house developed Dealer Management System, an ERP for TVS Motor dealers, and so far 325 dealers have adopted this system that enables seamless interaction with ERP and BI. He has won several awards including CIO Gold Award, CIOL-Dataquest Enterprise Connect, 2007 and SAP ACE Award. He also served as general manager, finance, TVS Motor Company, from 1997 to 2000. He is looking forward to using RFID technology in manufacturing and capturing customer experience online.
|TG Dhandapani, corporate CIO, TVS Group|
Truly an All-rounder
The opportunity to become the executive vice president of Godfrey Phillips Indias IT and corporate development came after his first job at Indian Oil, where he had joined as an accountant but was finally chosen for the IT team. From there, Bala has gone on to create an indelible footprint in the industry with over thirty years experience in IT. More important than the timeframe, Balas experience has spanned across a number of industries.
Bala has been a strong advocate for understanding the business aspect and its requirementsa philosophy that he has followed across his different job responsibilities as a CIO. As part of the corporate development role, he is involved with strategic planning and business growth perspective, making it easier for him to align IT to the business requirements.
|SR Balasubramanian, EVP, IT & corporate development, Godfrey Phillips|
Taking on the predominantly male bastion, Shobhana Ravi has carved a niche for herself in the IT space. In one of the CIO meets she remarked that a CIO must basically have a strong knowledge of the business process understanding. There are functional/technical heads to assist the CIOs and it becomes the duty to tap the information from these functional heads for accomplishing an effective business solution. And she walks the talk. Under her leadership, TAFE has developed its own data warehousing applications using SAP and Oracle database. Shobhana Ravi has not only redefined the IT set up at TAFE but has infused modern technologies that have enabled the company to accrue more profitability in the competitive automotive space.
|Shobhana Ravi, CIO, TAFE|
Been There, Done That
A veteran CIO, Arvind Tawde has seen the transition of the group from a functional organization to a process-driven one. Part of the management audit team, Tawde was made head of the newly formed EDP department. In his new role Tawde is credited with overseeing how group synergy can be better utilized through IT. In his stint as the corporate IT head, Tawdes tenure has been fairly satisfying. Under his guidance, the department added value to business by undertaking critical projects like the common customer database.
Another of his success stories is establishing One Mahindra, an intranet portal that provides a platform for information sharing across the group. It was not an easy ride as Tawde had to deal with change management issues in terms of data security and regulatory compliance. Tawdes success mantra: be open to learning from all.
|Arvind Tawde, senior VP & CIO, Mahindra & Mahindra|
Big Leaps Toward Success
After serving Wipro BPO for close to five years, Garela joined Deutsche Bank two years ago. From his long stint at Nelco to Tata Elxsi, Satyam Infoway and Refco Sify Securities, came the assignment at Broadband Solutions (an Enron company). As a network manager in the company, he handled the network setup for the international hosting center at Mumbai. A skilled orator and technology enthusiast, Garela has many successful projects to his credit.
He has been the brain behind planning and implementation of fiber connectivity from the node to MTNL exchange using 34 Mb and 140 Mb MUX equipment; and migration of backbone from IP to ATM using Cisco IGX Stratacom platform at Satyam Infoway, where the services went live within fifteen days of receipt of the ISP license.
|Rajiv Garela, CIO, Deutsche Bank|
Bringing IT to Choupals
A single sentence would be enough to describe VVR Babus contribution to Indian IT: he is the main technology architect of ITCs now globally recognized e-Choupals. The project that showed to the world how it is possible to use technology to bridge the urban-rural divide, took technology to a large set of farmers and is today probably the only such project that has smoothly transitioned from the pilot stage. A part of the company since 1979, while one end of his spectrum of achievements is represented by e-Choupals, the other is his contribution to ITC Infotech, a global IT services firm within the group. Here he was responsible for setting up a few horizontal and vertical business units, and led the quality initiative.
|VVR Babu, CIO, ITC|
A Shining Star
After working for two organizations, Nilesh Sangoi got his break when he joined Star Network and worked his way up to assistant VP. During the decade long stint, Sangoi was involved in setting up end-to-end IT infrastructure for KBC 2 and 3 contestant selection process. This involved complete coordination between the software development team, call center, voice and sms telecom providers, production house, auditors and internal business stakeholders, says Sangoi.
Keen to face new challenges in life, Sangoi joined Meru Cabs as CTO where he is being given an opportunity to work with a broad management perspective enriching business understanding.
|Nilesh Sangoi, CTO, Meru Cabs|
With an MS in Information Management Systems, Navin Chadha, the CIO of Tata Teleservices, is not someone who has accidentally landed up in the CIOs role, nor is he an EDP guy who gradually climbed the ladder. Yet Chadha remains loyal to a single verticaltelecom. If the CIO has to appreciate the finer aspects of business needs, understanding the domain is a must, he says, adding that telecom, where IT is so core that sometimes they are inseparable, provides the best opportunity to try out ideas that can have a direct impact on business. Apart from Tata Teleservices, Chadha has worked for AT&T Wireless in the US, where he has worked on SOX implementation devising the companys offshore strategy. In India, he had earlier worked with Idea Cellular.
|Navin Chadha, CIO, Tata Teleservices|
The Prince of IT
Azariah joined MRF in 2006 after decades of experience in various enterprises steering numerous IT initiatives. His key mandate at MRF: aligning the various business processes with IT. Says Azariah, Any new technology brings in a massive cultural change that has to be managed. When the CIO tries to infuse fresh technology, it brings huge change and the CIO has to successfully engineer that change. At MRF Azariah drove the implementation of Lotus Mail and a BPR exercise, and ultimately steered a mammoth SAP deployment in 2007. He is not stopping at that; in the pipeline is an SCM and CRM roll out.
|Prince Azariah, CIO, MRF|
He is not a techie in the correct sense of the term considering that he worked his way to IT after wearing different hats ranging from sales, engineering, and marketing. Choksi joined Asian Paints in 1992 and now officiates as vice president corporate planning and IT in the company. He has been the driving force of technology implementation in the not so IT-savvy business of manufacturing paints. He implemented technology solutions across the company in tune with the business objectives. He factored in cost, newer technologies and its ability to integrate with Asian Paints business. His vendor selection strategy has been meticulous. He helped introduce several features on the website which any prospective buyer can use before deciding to actually buy the product. Even Ask Aparna where a live agent is available to respond to customer queries. He feels customers should understand the true value of outsourcing and thinks that they should have good data on how IT was delivered prior to outsourcing.
|Manish Choksi, chief, corporate strategy & Cio, Asian Paints|
A BTech from IT-BHU, and a MS from Clemson University, USA, in civil and systems engineering, Bhushan Akerkar joined AC Nielsen in 2003. Prior to this he was head of the IT department in the E&C division of Larsen & Toubro.
It was back in 2004 when Bhushan implemented a large-scale project of connecting all the major branches of the company through an Internet VPN solution to eliminate the downtime involved in data transfer. Since then Bhushan has introduced many projects like bringing in NetApp advanced storage solutions, ERP, SCM and CRM programs. Bhushan is also responsible for charting out the IT strategies for the organization.
|Bhushan Akerkar, executive director It, AC Nielsen South Asia|
Sunil Gujral is one of the few CIOs who actually tried his hand at entrepreneurship and built a successful company, Futuresoft where he still serves as a director. The world, though knows him as the person who literally translated Raman Roys BPO vision into reality by implementing the technology for Spectramind. Not to forget, unlike today, technology (actually regulations associated with technology) was the biggest roadblock to building a call center business those days. Apart from spending significant time in VSNL and DoT, he had to travel to Singapore to plead specialized call center technology vendors to come to India. If the situation has completely reversed now, some credit is due to pioneers like Gujral.
|Sunil Gujral, co-founder, EVP and CTO, Quatrro|
In Quatrro, Gujral is busy smoothly integrating diverse technologies of acquired companies while experimenting on how he could use new technologies like web 2.0 to create business advantage for his clients.
An engineering graduate with a basket full of experience, Pal is constantly struggling to make IT the identity of the company. And it has not been an easy ride. The prime reason: in aviation we are constantly running against time. The recession has increased pressure on IT to see how every penny can be saved. In these tough times Pal has a useful piece of advice for CIOs: Have a microscopic look at each and every function and try to automate it. This is the only way to save time, and money.
|Virender Pal, cto, SpiceJet|
Political Change Agent
As head of the IT cell of the BJP, Bora, 34, has a very clear vision. He wants to make BJP the most automated political party in the world, in a time of less than three years. Hes well on his way to achieve this mission too. A BJP mail and messenger, video telephony, a totally virtualized infrastructure, and a dedicated team for IT implementation are some of the things he has achieved in about a years time.
A literature graduate and an IIM-A alumnus, ask Bora why politics and he is quick to answer: I have always wanted to be a change-agent, and politics gave me a much larger platform. Bora says he felt like Alice in Wonderful when he was first introduced to technology (as VP at Digital Talkies). The fascination still continues as he endeavors to build an IT infrastructure totally based upon open-source for a party with over 2 crore members. He knows that the task is not without hurdles.
|Prodyut Bora,Convener, It Cell, Bjp|
Deewana Bana Diya
Only 14 months into his first job as CIO and Ajay Meher is being credited with introducing processes in Sony. Meher has big plans drawn up for Sony and is currently drafting an IT roadmap for organizational growth.
For managing large volume of content, Meher has introduced automation and digitization. Dealing with content rights also is high on his agenda as he tests proof of concept for digital assets management. This project will prevent content piracy internally, he adds. On a roll after successfully implementing SAP in 2007-end including finance, control and sales and distribution; he has his eyes set on completing ECM by the end of this fiscal.
|Ajay Meher, VP, IT, Sony TV|
If Globus gives you tailored solutions for your wardrobe, Meheriar Patel gives Globus the IT infrastructure to design these solutions. Patels adaptability quotient to various industries remains his strongest point. He has worked with various industries like banking and aviation before taking up retail.
IT implementations are specific to businesses, and thus a thorough understanding of the business is must, says Patel. And one question that every CIO should be asking is: How can I add value to the bottom-line? Ask him what motivates him to go that extra mile for his organization and he says, Knowledge, innovation and passion.
|Meheriar Patel, GM & head, IT, Globus Stores|
Its rare to see a long queue in front of a PVR counter. No, it is not about recession, it is about online ticketing. And the brain behind that is Atul Luthra. An engineer and an MBA from IIM Kolkata, Luthra has been the backbone of IT implementations at PVR. He has linked all the twenty five cinemas to a single server, launched mobile apps, made e-ticketing more convenient, and earn himself a place in the prestigious CIO 100 list.
Luthras long stint with IT has made him acknowedge that people never accept new technology at once and that it takes a blend of persuasion, education and results. He has also learnt that outsourcing works fine if theres a good process in place. But, most importantly, he has proved that IT is a constant challenge and if pursued with vigor, it can prove to be an excellent experience, as it has been for him.
|Atul Luthra, head,
It, Pvr Cinemas
CIO, Professor, Author and More
At a time when EDP and enterprise IT planning was gaining importance in the early nineties, Pradeep Pendse was a step ahead, playing the role of an outsourced CIO to some prominent companies in India. Having more than two decades of experience as a lecturer in reputed engineering and management colleges in Mumbai, he took on the role of the dean, IT and CIO at Welingkar in 2000 and went on to transform the institute to one of the most technologically advanced in the education sector. He played the role of a catalyst in embedding IT as an integral part of the curriculum at the institute having introduced new courses on e-business and business analysis. He recently donned a new hat having authored a book on business analysis and has been honoured with the Best IT Teacher award among B-Schools.
|Pradeep Pendse, dean, IT, LN Wellingkar Institute of Management|
From Finance to IT
Although Shah started as an internal auditor with the Lalbhai Group, 32 years later now he not just handles their financials but is also the core IT person for Arvind Mills. A CA by qualification, Shah says never thought he would end up being a CIO.
In his 15 years of IT, Shah has given Arvind Mills a few technology turnsfrom implementing SAP ERP to introducing videoconferencing. Shah has played the role of a change agent in the company.
|Bhupendra Shah, Cio,
Born into a community that dominates the stock markets in India, Shah was a natural for the job at Angel Broking. After dabbling into the profession and understanding the nitty-gritty of it, he started to look for bigger challenges. IT attracted him and after a few certified courses, he joined the then fledgling broking firm, Angel Broking.
Today the company is regarded as a premier broking firm. The online platform that he put in place has won Shah a lot of accolades. Hes now trying to bring in newer technologies like mobile platform, etc. Today, Shah is helping the company gain prominence and garner investor confidence through the use of IT.
|Ketan Shah, associate director, IT, Angel Broking|
She Tried, Tested and Proved
Sona Saha started a career in IT at Weston Electronics when she was merely 23 years old and the youngest member in a male dominated team. Since then she has achieved many milestones and worked across various industries.
According to Saha, her first major achievement was when she built and implemented an end-to-end ERP in Weston Electronics. I felt really proud then, she recalls. Another highlight of her career is her stint with Pizza Hut. Saha says she joined Pizza Hut when it was in a very virgin state of technology. When she moved out, Pizza Hut had a developed ERP across all its facilities (65-70), a fully functional point of sales system and a three-tier connectivity infrastructure. Saha says that one of the most daring things she has done is the testing of a Taiwanese brand, called Posiflex, for a retail solution at the Bangalore branch of KFC. Fortunately the decision turned out to be so productive that Its something I have never regretted, she says.
|Sona Saha Das, head, IT, Infostar Business Solution|
Manufacturing Tech Success
With 23 years of experience in the industry, Saxena has been the brain behind the creation of the IT roadmap for IFB. In a very short time he has managed to implement and successfully initiate a CRM module very effectively, thereby adding more value to the business. He is also responsible for the implementation of SAP across all plantsBangalore, Goa, Kolkata and Bhopal, along with regional offices, branches offices and stock points. Prior to IFB, Saxena worked with Krishna Group where he implemented customized ERP in Oracle/Developer 2000, on Windows NT in a record time of eight months, and also implemented bar coding with multiple items in a single invoice for Maruti Udyog.
|Sanjeev Saxena, GM, IT, IFB|
The Rural Pull
CN Ram joined HDFC Bank in July 1994, after 12 years of experience with the Bank of America. This experience bore testimony to his IT capabilities. At BoA he managed to completely automate the banks India operations.
Ram had a small team of four people when he joined HDFC. This number had escalated to 172 by the time he quit in June this year. Ram was responsible for strategic IT planning, alignment of IT with business and new implementations that have helped HDFC attain new shores in e-banking.
Over the years Ram took over responsibilities of managing the data center operations from the Operations department. He was also in-charge of the Business Solutions Groupthe group that interfaces between the business groups and IT in the bank.
After his departure from HDFC in June 2008, Ram joined Rural Shores Business Services, a company that helps rural entrepreneurs to set up BPOs in villages. He is currently the director of the company.
Trading with IT
A year before Patankar joined BSE, the exchange commenced BOLT or BSE Online Trading making it the worlds second exchange to have totally automated, screen-based trading. He took this to a new level by setting up state-of-the technologies from front-end to back-end, making it comparable to any stock exchange in the world. Sample this: every transaction on the main system gets replicated online into its disaster site located in Navi Mumbai. He also set up a robust back-up infrastructure with three back upsone at the site, the other in a bank locker within a fireproof vault and the third at the disaster back-up site. Patankar was also instrumental in kick-starting Directors Database and ICERS (Indian Corporate Electronic Reporting System) to facilitate information flow and increase transparency in the Indian capital market.
When Dr Sai joined Thompson Press in 1999, the level of IT implementation there was not exactly healthy. But in a span of nine years, he managed to design and implement a number of IT processes and operations. The result is glaring: interaction through hard copies has been reduced to a mere 6% from 99% when he joined.
Sai introduced three major projects at Thompson Press: the Multi Data Transit System between pre-press and press; the WAN which connects all fifteen offices of the company; and the Production Management and Information System which made tracking and scheduling of every task possible at all workstations. The last one, as Sai puts it, allows the sales guys to sleep peacefully at night.
Sai quit Thomson Press recently and is now a senior professor of IT at Jaipuria Institute of Management. He holds a PG in applied mathematics and is a PhD in business management.
|Dr Hs Sai|
Daredevil at Heart
He is certainly not a CIO anymore, but his story or rather role switch from a CIO to his current designation as the executive director of Fortis Healthcare surely makes for an interesting read.
Kapoor was feeling like reaching a plateau kind of situation, where the urge to do something different and more weighed heavy. Thats when he decided to communicate this to the higher management. In February 2006 he left his 22 years of IT experience behind, as he took charge of the Central Buying Unit at Fortis. Along with this he was also assigned an additional charge as director of Jasram Hospital, which meant being completely responsible for growing the hospital. Starting from scratch wasnt easy. With this inimitable chance to look beyond compartments, Kapoor was exposed to a lot of routine management work, which equipped him with tools of viewing things from a business perspective.
|Sunil Gujral, co-founder, EVP and CTO, Quatrro|
And just when he was settling down in his new role came another lucrative offer Kapoor obviously could not resist, being the daredevil that he is at heart. He was asked to take charge of Fortiss new branch at Amritsar.