Swami Nagarajan is a seasoned IT professional with 25+ years of consulting and IT experience in driving accounts for growth, delivering large programs and developing and enabling various solutions to cater to specific customers.
Currently he is leading the solutions group for Financial Services that is called ORC (Opportunities Realization Cell). As part of this, he develops point solutions to specific customer needs bringing together different offerings and products, builds business cases, undertakes consultancy work and drives the proposals.
Prior to this, he set up the regional delivery unit in London for driving growth in FS in the UK and Europe region. He won the “CEO Champion” award in 2014.
1.) How does technology improve your life?
The first thing that comes to my mind is most of things are real time and you get to do what you want from the place you are in. It improves my life at home as well as at office. In the office, whether it is talking to colleagues all over the world or discussing a proposal or constructing a virtual war room to harness the capabilities to provide a solution to customer, I have found it so easy and so productive. I am always connected to my family and even stealing a few moments from a busy day at office invigorates me a lot by bringing the family closer to me.
2.) What future technology are you looking forward to?
I am personally fascinated by the disappearance of borders between many industries and services today and creation of new lines. To me, the greatest improvement is on education and the dissemination of knowledge to suit individual tastes. Technology has the power to harness multiple talents of people and give them a fantastic learning experience. To a country like India, this would mater a lot.
3.) Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the ever-growing usage of technology?
Well, I will say this! I am optimistic about the discerning wisdom of mankind. Technology will continue to grow and manifest in various ways that impact our lives. It is up to us how we use it, take advantage of it and broaden our experience and minds. But it is not a substitute for being together or face to face interaction. For example, at my home, we don’t keep looking at the cell phone minute by minute to see how the world changes! When we are together, all else take a back seat.
4.) Who inspired / inspires you as a leader?
Mahatma Gandhi continues to inspire me as a leader. He brought “Ahimsa” (non-violence) as the core of the fight for independence and used that to unite the country. He was at the forefront of every change he brought. In my opinion, his advice on being part of the change itself instead of asking for or waiting for change to happen is spot on.
5.) What do you think is crucial for modern leadership (in tech)?
Ability to unlearn and learn again. In the next 2-3 years, we don’t know if companies will continue to earn revenues from the way they do business today. For all we know, 50% of the revenues could come from services or products that do not exist today. To me, that is the greatest challenge and any leader who is prepared to let go and ready to learn to chart a new course is likely to be more successful. This also means a leader should rise above the stock market expectations and stop living quarter to quarter!
6.) Where and how can people improve their leadership skills?
Learning is one part and integral of course. The more difficult part is to feel it, experience it and immerse oneself in it. What better way than trying it out in any field or any venture. Even if it is a small community based program, the take-aways from leading that programme will continue to last in one’s career. In our philosophy, there is something called “Satsang” meaning associated with good people. Associating with like-minded people, willing to listen and learn and continuing to ask questions will help in leadership.
7.) What were the best and worst leadership experiences you had personally?
The worst leadership is back at my school especially during the pre-university days. My experiences with the then school headmaster were nothing to write about. There were some extra ordinary teachers who were so passionate about their subjects. Having limited resources is one thing but the ability to make use of them intelligently and inspire the people around you is another. As students, we were willing to do a lot. So were most of the teachers. The headmaster made sure that every day would be a day of toil with his bloated ego. Students and teachers, alike, began to lose their interest. Subjects became boring too quickly. Even those who seemed headed for greener pastures were pulled down. It became a difficult environment. No feedback was ever accepted or debated. It took some time for me to come out of that mindset, unlearn and find ways and means of enjoying one’s studies and profession.
I also had some very good leaders during my career. It has been a pleasure to work with some of them. The beauty is that they don’t have to know everything. But the energy they bring in and the passion with which they go about creating an atmosphere of trust and excellence is awesome. Well, I would say this. For more than 50% of the days, when I get up from my bed, I feel like going to office and working for the boss! Need I say more? I continue to enjoy my stint.