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CIO Of the Fortnight

I was born in a typical middle class Gujju family. Born and brought up in Mumbai, I am a Malad boy.

I studied in Guajarati medium school Nutan Vidya Mandir High School at Malad. The school was not very big and all the students were from middle class or working class. I was not particularly ahead in the studies though I had lot of interest in sports and cultural activities.

After passing 10th, I joined M.K.E.S college of Commerce & Arts at Malad. Coming from vernacular medium, I was bit nervous with the environment. But, after a while, I could adjust.

While doing my graduation, my mother and sister encouraged to learn computers. Suddenly, I found myself spending more than 10 hours a day in front of computers. To learn hardware, I decided to take up a part time assignment. I joined a small firm where I learnt assembling computers and basics of networking. After graduation, I started working full time at the same place. Most important lessons I leant were in customer service. I understood what drives customer mad and as a service engineer how to keep cool and respond.

After 2 years, I felt that I need to join a bigger firm so that I can learn more about servers and applications. I joined G-Tech Solutions in 1998. Here, we had large clients. First time, I was handling corporate clients. My friendly nature, genuine responses and being hands-on made me favorite of my customers. There were occasions, when I did not know what to do. I used to be very transparent with the customer and used to tell them that I would learn and try to solve the problem. They encouraged me to learn by trial and error. By working for more than 25 clients, I was able to learn lot more in 2 years. One of our clients was Birla Sun-Life Securities. One day, they asked me if I could join them.

I talked to my boss. He was gracious enough to let me go. After switching the sides, I started giving more attention to my end users. I learnt the applications and business processes. I also got opportunity to work with the brokerage and later on distribution arm of the Aditya Birla Group's financial services.

During my tenure of more than 5 years, I was fortunate to work under great CIOs including L.N. Sunderrajan, Godwin Fernandes and P. Rangarajan. All are very process oriented and cool gentlemen. They invested their time and energy in nurturing me. I understood importance of documentation and managing relationships with various stakeholders in the group.

Some of the important projects I delivered were:

  1. Setting up of retail & institutional trading platform
  2. Datacenter for Birla Sunlife securities at sadhana house, worli
  3. Business process automation

In year 2006, I moved to Dawnay Day AV. It was a startup founded by Mr. Alok Vajpeyi & Dawnay Day group of UK. When I joined, I was Number 3 in hierarchy. Over 2 years, I became CTO and assumed full responsibility for IT. Being a green field project, I got opportunity to set up things in the way I always wanted. I was able to build a great team as well. During recession, we were hit badly. The company ownership also changed. I was able to adapt to the changes and get buy-in to most of IT projects from the new management. The company also changed the name to Destimoney.

At Destimoney, I was able to work on following projects:

  1. Datacenter for Dawnay Day AV groups
  2. Online & Offline trading platform
  3. Strategic Tie-up with Dhanbank (Our trading service online for their customers with core banking backend integration)
  4. In-house CRM with business application integration & automate the processes

My style of working is always hands-on. I am accessible to my team and my users all the time. I always treat vendors with respect but like to do things my own way. I actively network with peers in the CIO community by way of attending events and conferences. The advice I get from my fellow CIOs has been invaluable for me.

I consider myself fortunate that I could reach my current position at a young age of 33 and also despite not having any professional educational background. I believe my passion about IT and my commitment to work are reasons for my success.

In personal life, I am deeply religious person. Right from young age, I followed my mother in developing faith and god-fearing attitude. Every year, we as a family, go on pilgrimage. I find peace and strength after my annual sojourns.

I rarely get angry. I am a positive thinker. I am ambitious but not in great hurry to reach top. Over next 5 years, I see myself moving towards business side in the brokerage industry.

My hobbies are playing cricket, TT and going on long drives. Over week ends, I end up visiting our friends and relatives.

My message to fellow colleagues in industry is: Please start thinking beyond technology. Be a part of the business. And make moves, which are game changers for your company!

My father is my role model. Currently, we are a family of four; me, mom (Pratima), dad (Devendra) & my lovely wife (Bhumil).

My favorite sport is cricket, tennis / Sachin Tendulkar / Food - Pizza & pasta / IPL Team – Mumbai Indian.

Linkedin, I use a most for my social networking.

If you were not a CIO in IT domain Diamond Merchant
Your current / favorite car Current car Santro / favorite car Innova
Weekends are for? My family
Favorite holiday destination Bangkok
Ultimate ambition CEO of mid or large size org.
Thing you most want to do in life Visit Mansarovar
Celebrity you'd like to spend a day with Amir Khan

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