Leadership Is All About People

Nandkishor Dhomne, CIO, Manipal Hospitals, believes leadership is about understanding how one can perform in a team and get the desired

"I think CIO's role has to go beyond technology and that has already started happening."

What in your view is being a leader all about?

Leadership is all about people. Leaders are those who attempt to influence others' behaiviour. Leadership means achievement and the bottomline is to make the team work for a common objective. There are at least 18 to 20 key characteristics of a leader. Let me point out some of them which are absolutely vital. Firstly, a leader should have integrity and honesty. Secondly, a leader should possess the courage to recognise the risk and proceed without fear. A leader should understand his own weakness as it is one of the most important traits of moving forward. A leader should always lead by setting examples. Another important thing is to be able to communicate properly. A leader should also believe in teamwork and should be decisive when it comes to mak- ing a choice. Finally, I feel a leader should be sensible and should understand the feeling of others.

What are the key ingredients that make a CIO a leader?

Apart from the points that I mentioned, for a CIO to become a leader, he/she should have strong business knowledge and a vision which will help him to align business with the IT infrastructure.

What was the point in your career that transformed you from being a technologist to a technology leader?

I think this happened in 1998 when I was working with Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) in Delhi. I went through a major transformation from thinking technology to thinking business. This was the firm where I got exposed to business challenges. I should thank my boss, Anurag Mathur, who gave me a free hand in coming up with business solutions by implementing IT solutions in various departments. I would interact with business heads from different verticals within the organisation and would come up with solutions which I would then discuss with Mathur before coming up with a relevant solution. I think it was a path breaking exercise for me and in the coming years it helped me immensely in aligning IT to enhance the business of the organisation that I was with.

Who has been the big influencer in your life? Who do you look up to as a role model for leadership?

Anurag Mathur has been a great influence in my life who has taught me many things. The most important of them was to find solution to any problem — on a short-term as well as long-term. During my tenure with AEPC, I have had many experiences which would not have been possible without Mathur. By giving me the liberty to work on my own, he instilled a level of confidence which otherwise would have been hard to garner.

How do you increasingly align IT to business?

In my role as a CIO in this organisation, I spend more time with the business leadership within the organisation. I understand their requirements and give them suggestions. I try and understand the company's long-term business plans and the immediate challenges and provide them with data availability and analytics. We have also formed a committee within our firm which takes decisions on different perspectives where IT can help the business grow to a new level. We work on both structured growth of the business as well as unplanned alignment which may arise in day-to-day functionalities.

How do you foresee leadership five years down the line in the context that information technology dynamics are changing so rapidly?

I think CIO's role has to go beyond technology and that has already started happening. CIOs will now be more responsible for process management and I have heard many people now referring to CIO as Chief Process Officer. In the next couple of years, CIOs will have to showcase their leadership by playing multiple roles. He/She has to contribute to the topline and bottomline. A CIO always has to ensure that data is available for decision making process. He/She has to come up with innovative thoughts to enhance the business of the company.

Nandkishor Dhomne, CIO, Manipal Hospitals is involvedin IT strategies and oprational planning of the organisation. He manages core business, applications management, MIS, IT infrastructure, IT security, ITIL, and data centre operations of Manipal Hospitals. Prior to joining Manipal, Dhomne was working with GMR Group as AGM, IT, and was responsible for the IT strategy and roadmap of the firm.

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