This is the next blog in the continuing series of interviews with top-echelon and renowned professionals. In this blog, we interview Srikantan Moorthy: International Top-ranking Business and Technology Leader, Industry-Leading Visionary Innovator, Global Executive, Vice-President and Head of Research and Education, Infosys Technologies Ltd.
Srikantan Moorthy - known as Tan to friends and colleagues is a Vice President and Head of Education & Research (E&R) with Infosys. Tan has more than 23 years of experience in the Information Technology based Professional Services Industry. He spent 12 of those years working in the US during which time he gained hands-on experience in strategy formulation, operations management and talent development.
Tan started his career as a software engineer and has worked on a variety of computing platforms working on both systems and applications programming. Tan has played multiple roles including those of a division General Manager and Client Partner working with Fortune 500 clients. During his tenure at Infosys, Tan managed client delivery for a large business unit managing projects worth over two hundred million dollars with a team of more than 4000 people.
As head of Education and Research at Infosys, Tan's primary responsibility is talent development through competency building. The residential 19 week training for fresh engineers joining Infosys is a key program run by Infosys E&R. Over 15,000 fresh engineers go through this program every year. The certification program of E&R is aimed at renewal of competencies of experienced professionals in the organization. More than a 100,000 assessments are conducted annually as part of this program. Infosys Campus Connect (which is also run by E&R) partners with over 500 engineering colleges in India and provides interventions to raise the employability of graduating engineering students.
Tan has a passion for people development and has been involved in the competency development initiatives at Infosys. He is part of the Infosys Competency Council. Tan is also a member of the Professional Development Committee of ACM (Association for Computing Machinery), and is on the board of IUCEE (Indo US Collaboration for Engineering Education).
Tan has a Bachelor's in Engineering from Bangalore University.
To listen to the interview, click on this MP3 file link
Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic
Tan tells us about Infosys, its roots, vision and mission.
"...I think the tagline "Powered by intellect and driven by values" gives you an indication of the emphasis the firm places on human capital and ethical behavior...."
What triggered your interest in computing and please profile your journey up to the present?
"....My first opportunity to work on computers came in the final year of my engineering degree way back in 1984....My final year project turned out to be something where I was creating a translator using assembly language. That was my first interaction with a computer and from then on I wanted to be associated with computing and being an IT professional...."
Tell us more about your vision and objectives behind your current roles? What do you hope to accomplish and how will you bring this about?
"....My job is to build the capability of people. We are a 100,000+ organization today and we work with clients in solving their business problems leveraging technology. This means the competency of our people has to be quite varied, ranging from deep technology through business domains, software properties and good soft skills. My focus is on developing the competencies of our people in these dimensions...."
How do you see the global economic climate in 2009, 2010 and in the next five years?
"....The economic crisis has already proven that we are a globalized world and I see global interdependence happening more and more. For the economy to grow I think there will have to be much more free movement of goods, services and people. I think that is what will facilitate the growth of the economy over the coming years...."
What metrics are important to Infosys in the next three years?
"....As with any corporation, I think there are financial metrics. But more important is earning the respect of all its stakeholders and that is what Infosys has always placed the most emphasis on...."
What must organizations do to be successful?
"....A relentless focus on clients, innovation and employees are all very important. It's also important to look at the larger picture and to look at strategy holistically to address the needs of all the stakeholders for a long time....I also think that bringing transparency to governance is a critical thing for organizations to be successful...."
What are the hot technologies today and into the future?
"....Cloud computing is at the center of a lot of things today....Technologies that will be hot will be the ones that will help the planet to be a better place (green technologies) and technologies that help bring better living standards to the larger base of humanity... "
What are the hot jobs today and into the future?
"....A lot of it is in the services sector.... As the ability of people to buy and the consumption rate of goods and services increases, the ability to provide them better experiences is what will rule the world. That is where service-oriented jobs are becoming more and more prevalent in the developing market...."
Where should the IT professional who is early in his/her career be focusing?
"....My recommendation would always be for people to focus on the business domain and the application and leveraging of technology to solve business problems...."
What are the types of hot companies today and into the future?
"....They are the ones that are creating the solutions of the future. The ones that are making the planet a better place and the companies that combine innovation to take their products to the masses...."
You were invited to a private leaders meeting in Chicago earlier this year due to your global work and outstanding leadership. You talked about Friedman's book, the Asia region, India's graduation rate for engineers, and much more. Can you share these deep and valuable insights with our audience?
"....The emerging markets, the demographic shift, the ubiquitousness of technology and the change in regulations are things that have enabled anybody anywhere in world to have the level playing field to do what they want..."
Where are the global leaders in the future? Why?
"....With the flattening of the world the global leaders can come from any part of the globe....The opportunity today exists for anybody to reach to the top if they have the passion to do it...."
With so many years of success, how does this success contribute to your vision for: business, industry, governments, academia, research, media, society, technology, and internationally?
"....I think that the future belongs to those who are able to make a large difference to humanity as a whole. To me the vision of the future will be one where anybody, irrespective of their background, is able to reach their full potential in any place on the planet by virtue of their desire to be successful, by virtue of the passion they have to be successful and the opportunity that the world provides for them...."
What were the major challenges you faced during your career and how did you overcome them? Which challenges still exist today and can you outline others that are new?
"....One of the challenges coming from a technical background and having a focus on technology for me was not realizing the importance of communication....I think the challenge is to keep pace with everything that is going on in the world to ensure that anything we do is relevant and whatever is being done adds value to the stakeholders...."
What were the most important lessons you want to share from your work at Infosys?
"....First is the value placed on the human being - whether it is a client, a manager, a peer or a team member. To give respect to the individual as a human being is the starting point....Second, deal with everything ethically and legally....Third, make decisions through data and information rather than subjective means....Fourth, focus on building scale through systems and processes ensuring that we are able to do everything on a large scale given the needs that we've always had in the company and the country...."
Tan describes the top innovative achievements in terms of the problems they were trying to solve, their solutions, and the impact it has today and into the future.
Can you profile your current research and work, its challenges, opportunities, and implications?
"....The first area is understanding things that are coming (grid computing, cloud computing, etc) and the challenges related to that....The second area is enhancing learning effectiveness....(understanding real learning can make a difference - how learning can make a difference and what are the parameters that can be impacted through learning interventions)...."
Over your long and distinguished career, what are your top lessons you want to share with the broad audience?
"....First: Have a passion and commitment for the job....Second: The need to connect with people and to treat them with respect. Understanding where they are coming from and understanding the context of the individual is very essential in being able to connect with them....Third: To constantly develop the competence of one's own capabilities, while at the same time having the humility to know that there are areas that one doesn't know, and have the ability to go and learn new things all the time....Fourth: Look at things from the perspective of the 'making a difference' rather than 'what is in it for me'. It is 'what is in it for the larger good' when approaching any problem and defining its solution...."
If you could sum up your life experiences with career tips for the ICT professional, what would be your tips and the reasons behind them?
"....First, develop deep competencies because it is critical to be competent to take on any job....Second, the ability to develop soft skills and to communicate....Third, an attitude of wanting to learn and wanting to work well in teams...."
Can you profile additional skills needed for IT professionals to be successful in today's agile technology driven climate?
"....The ability to adapt and work well in an environment where everything is not well defined...."
Please make predictions for the future, their implications, and how business executives and IT professionals can best prepare?
"....A starting point is to have an open mind - not be constrained by one's experiences or one's own view of the world....The desire to learn, the humility to acknowledge that one doesn't know something....most important, the focus on a value system...."
How do you wish to continue to shape the world and contribute to the fabric of history?
"....By working with people so that we can jointly make a difference....By learning new things and by adapting things that were done in one way and bringing it to play in a different context....By making sure that there is an opportunity for people at various stages to learn from and to give people the opportunity to perform to their best...."
What do you see as the three top challenges facing us today and how do you propose they be solved?
"....Important to look at things from a holistic and long term perspective....Learn to be more transparent....Focus on deepening one's skills...."
Increasingly there is attention being given to IT as a profession with recognized professional certification, adherence to a code of ethics, demonstrated professional development, alignment with a common body of knowledge and best practices. These concepts are encapsulated in IT Professionalism. Can you share your views on IT Professionalism?
"....As an organization we place high emphasis on ethics and the value system. Embodying all of this and bringing about IT as a profession is timely and needed at this point in time...."
The UN-founded International Federation for Information Processing or IFIP has their International Professional Practice Partnership (IP3) program which received full ratification at the world general assembly in August 2007 with their first implementation meeting in Montreal in October 2007. This marks an historical inflection point and speaks to IT as a recognized profession with global standards, profession-based code of ethics, and widely adopted professional certification-all happening in 2009. Can you provide your comments on the importance of this historical milestone?
"...It is a great initiative and I think it should be embraced wholeheartedly in making it happen across the globe - especially with IT being among the professions that is practiced interchangeably across the globe....Having this uniform certification and a global standard for IT professionals is commendable ....."
If you were conducting this interview, what question would you ask, and then what would be your answer?
"....an emphasis on execution and bias for action is something that every IT professional needs to have...."