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5 ways to be a T-shaped professional

Sanjeev Jagtap, Senior VP and CIO, Mastek Ltd, on strategies CIOs can use to be better leaders.
By Pooja Paryani

Over the last 20 years, Sanjeev Jagtap has honed his skills in solution and enterprise architecture, IT management, business process automation, and web applications. He also makes it a point to upgrade his skills continuously, and is a firm believer in the concept of the T-shaped professional. “T-shaped work skills are very useful and have helped me sail through challenging times smoothly,” says Sanjeev. “As the name suggests, it’s based on the alphabet ‘T’. The horizontal line stands for the breadth of knowledge across disciplines. In any organisation you must have a basic of knowledge of all functions and business processes. The vertical line stands for the depth of knowledge in the field you’ve specialised in. These are the skills you’ve honed in-depth in one or two subjects. You should be an expert in those fields.

“This T-shaped model works well for CIOs because though they are dealing with technology, they also need to have working knowledge of the complete business/organisation to reach the set goals. The industry also values you if you are up-to-date with knowledge across fields. Given the rapid changes in technology, if you desire to be a leader, it is necessary to have conceptual knowledge about a variety of technologies and related areas. Here are some work strategies that CIOs can use to enhance T-shaped skills.”

1. Scan the environment continuously
“You need to do this so as to know the current happenings in the business domain, relevant technologies and what best suits your organisation’s strategy.  Internet, technology events, vendor’s new propositions and social media sites like LinkedIn are some of the sources that help me to keep abreast of the trends.  Since there is a plethora of technologies, it is necessary to select the appropriate technology for creating business impact instead of getting carried away with the latest and greatest one.”

2. Prepare the roadmap for digital transformation
“Digital has become a bigger canvas right now and technological change is at the most dynamic stage at present. Everything is digital—social, cloud, mobile, analytics, IoT, etc are making a big difference in the business. It is something like tsunami wave from which no one can escape. Preparation and execution of a digital transformation roadmap are necessary for the survival and growth of the organisation.

3. Engage with startups
“Nowadays, startups, whether setup by inexperienced or experiences entrepreneurs, have very unique, innovative ideas, not just for technology but also for disruptive business models. So I attend startup meets and engaging with them; it gives me ideas to try out in the business, especially in the digital space. Being in touch with young minds is also necessary as they bring in fresh ideas and new perspectives having potential for success.”

4. Use agile methodology
“Adopt agile methodology and DevOps practices that get the work done faster and in an iterative manner. Reduce the time to market for a project by breaking it into a number of releases. Implement practices for an empowered, self-managed team to get the desired results. Encourage managers to play the role of a facilitator and mentor instead of a controller and bring agility to the entire IT function.  Agile teams working in tandem with business to an agreed execution plan is important so as to stay ahead of the competition.”

5. Give back to society
“Being leaders with knowledge of technology, we should pass on the same to young minds for a better future. Everyone can contribute in a cause based on his/her area of  interest. My friend and I are working on an initiative to teach kids in Std 5 to 7 about coding. These kids will be from secondary schools and we introduce them to various aspects of technology by using low cost devices like Raspberry Pi. Technology is going to be more and more pervasive tomorrow, so the leaders of the future need to be introduced to the same early in life. Makings kids more tech savvy or interested in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) is a great way to give something back to society and the IT industry.” 

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