General manager & group head, Tata Consultancy Services Digital Software & Solutions Group
What was your dream career as a child?
I was taught to serve others so I wanted to be a doctor. But then as a teenager in zoology class I opened a jar of formaldehyde with a very dead frog in it. The smell alone convinced me medicine wasn't for me. Instead, I chose technology. The transformations I have witnessed in this industry as well as what is happening now have been amazing. Thankfully, this field has still allowed me to help make people's lives better.
What has been your personal highlight of 2019?
A personal victory was recovering from surgery for an injury I sustained while exercising. Ironically, getting better required much greater persistence with my workouts. I could have easily given up exercise, but I knew I had to rededicate myself if I wanted to meet my fitness goals. No matter how much pain I was in, I worked out every morning. It helped me understand that for all my personal goals, I had to take consistency and perseverance to another level.
Which famous person deserves a (gentle) slap?
I would give a gentle shake to some of the leaders at top banks who still seem to think they're too big to fail. I would explain the urgency of digital transformation.
What two things (apart from family) would you grab if your house was on fire?
I begin and end my day meditating beside two pictures of saints from India, so I would grab them. Mindfulness has been an integral part of my life since childhood. Like exercise, it trains the mind with the goal of getting better every day.
Which of your 2019 predictions have come to pass?
I've been saying there is a need to elevate digital trust to address cybersecurity and consumer privacy. In 2019, there were major missteps by social networks, retailers, banks and governments as well as mounting concerns about personal data collected by devices that make up the Internet of Things. This put digital trust in the spotlight and raised consumer expectations on privacy and security to new heights.
What TV show have you binge watched this year?
As a lifelong student of history, I indulge myself in documentaries and historical dramas. My favourite this year was Chernobyl.
How has 2019 been from a business perspective?
This year we're seeing enterprises getting serious about making the customer experience the cornerstone of their digital transformation. This trend helped us sign up new channel partners in 2019 and it bodes well for the market opportunity going forward. There's no shortage of opportunities for the channel to help retailers, banks and other consumer-facing businesses to deliver better customer experiences to compete against born-on-the-web rivals.
What annoys you most about your commute?
Nothing! Like many of my DS&S Group colleagues outside of India, I work from home. Unlike traditional start-ups, DS&S operates inside a large, global organisation so we consider ourselves intrapreneurs. When we launched five years ago, we figured we could attract the best and brightest by offering an enviable work environment. We wanted to get the right people for our organisation irrespective of where they were.
If you could witness one past event, what would it be?
It would be the Reconstruction Era following the American Civil War. I was raised to stand up for anything that is not right or just. So when I watched the film 12 Years a Slave, it made me wonder how I would have reacted in the face of so much injustice committed against disenfranchised people.
How do you explain the channel to people?
I would compare it to how a consumer acquires a mobile phone. What are the routes to market - a store, online or network provider? What kinds of add-ons like apps can customise it? Which sales channel would allow the manufacturer to make a good profit, reduce overhead and invest in innovation? Is buying it a one-time transaction or a journey of continuous value for both buyer and seller? These are all aspects of the channel.
What have been your favourite and least favourite partner conference destinations?
I would prefer to attend conferences in cities such as Paris where I could also visit partners, customers and of course, new business prospects.
What is the biggest challenge facing the channel in 2020?
Without question it's making channel firms vital partners in the digital transformation journeys of their customers. Yet to become transformation partners, many channel players must transform themselves - starting with the way they think, their culture. They must keep pace with technology changes by picking partners with products that add value today but offer a vision for the future. It comes down to choosing a technology partner that is a trusted advisor in their own transformation.