Despite being an electrical engineering graduate and an MBA, he feels he is still a student at heart. “Engineering was just the first part of my higher education. I am still a student” says he. He is Manish Anand, CIO, Infogain, an avid learner. Anand is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Data Science from Bennett University. He also has certifications in cybercrime from Delhi Law Institute. He believes that seeking knowledge is not an obligation, it is a choice.
But the path of learning was not always easy for him. Due to family constraints, Anandstarted selling computers to fund his learning. He sold computers for three years until things started looking up.
From System Administrator to CIO
Anand started his professional journey as a System Administrator at Ohio Technologies. “This was at a time when technology as a profession started booming in India and the person who was like a mentor to me during that time suggested that I should take the direction of infrastructure instead of software. I consider that as a turning point in my career,” feels he. At Ohio Technologies, he was entrusted with building a platform for healthcare services. After 6-7 months, he was asked to move to the US to work on a project to build the ‘infrastructure for voice capture’. “We started with a telephone-based dictation system but we eventually matured into a digital dictation capture system using small handheld devices,” said Anand.
The larger part of his career was based out of the US.
Anand switched to Saint-Gobain Sekurit in 2004 and spent nine years there, playing an integral part in the role of a System Administrator- handling implementations of ERP, SAP, Infrastructure improvements, and more. After his 5 year stint in the US, he came back to India.
Journey as CIO
His first stint as a CIO took off at Olam International, where he served as regional IT Head and as a part of the Central IT helping to formulate and steer corporate IT strategies by providing business insights.
Later, he became the CIO of Aegon Life, where he built a digital transformation roadmap for customer acquisition through digital channels and streamlined partner integration channels through a robust API-enabled application and data exchange layer. He has also been an integral part of IT in Wipro and NEC Technologies. “At Wipro, I started off by setting up new practices for open-source products, automation, and eventually heading the pre-sales and delivery before I joined Infogain as a CIO,” he says.
Currently at Infogain, Anand’s focus is on strengthening user efficiency to render a seamless experience for the end-users. “We are building a profound stack of self-service automation. Besides, optimization of current technologies and transformations to make them more adaptable, as well as identifying gaps between what the user wants and what the technology should offer using cloud technologies, data lakes, and front-end information rendering are some of the things that the company is currently pioneering. Optimize, scale, and innovation are what we are focusing on today,” he elaborates.
Lessons in Leadership
Anand’s father is a civil engineer, while his mother is a teacher by profession. His formative years were spent at a boarding school. “I am what I am due to my boarding life. Boarding school gives you a lot of opportunities to learn and grow. It was the best learning phase of my life that helped me grow as a leader. I was the prefect of the school in 12th,” he mentions. He was also a part of the gliding and horse riding club, something he considers himself extremely lucky for.
Anand feels that corporations can also use learning and academics in a more effective manner.
Professional ethics is something that Anand developed the most during his stint in the US. He believes in respecting and treating everyone equally. Mixing with different cultures and people has also given him exposure to design interfaces and ensuring optimum user adaptability.
Achievements that matter most
Heading the SAP implementation in Mexico was one of his big achievements, according to Anand. “I didn’t know Spanish. But as I had to work with a team that spoke Spanish only, I learned Spanish to deliver the project on time.”
Anand also considers the delivery of SAP in Nigeria as a landmark of his career, simply due to the fact that Nigeria is a “hostile place to compute technology” with no existence of infrastructure whatsoever.
Overcoming Challenges and Moving forward
On the professional front, Anand has never seen technology as a challenge. He believes that the purpose of technology is to make business more efficient. Businesses comprise people and thus, if one can focus on people, they in turn can focus on businesses. “But that happens to be your biggest challenge also, because implementing technology is one thing, and making use of the technology is another thing. That’s where the concept of adaptability comes into play,” he explains.
Human-centered design thinking, UI, and UX are some of the tools that Anand uses to solve such challenges. “As a CIO, there are some things that I very strongly trust- my own skill that I use to create a quest that solves a business problem. And in pursuit of that quest, I make sure that I use the right technology in the most optimum manner,”Anand says.
“For a technology professional, staying married is also a big victory in itself,” quips Anand in a lighter vein. Prior to the lockdown, Anand hardly got the time to spend time with his family as he had to travel extensively for work. He compliments and appreciates his wife’s efforts to make up for his absence at home. “This becomes possible only when you have a very strong family,” he feels.
Things that keep him sane
He believes in the “Live and let live” attitude towards life.
Driving is what energizes Anand the most. “I love to drive. I live in Greater Noida, so I have all the best highways around me,”he said. He also loves to travel and mostly uses his own car for travelling to different states. He makes his family fly to the destination while he drives through the roads. Anand also takes interest in music and poetry and he writes as well.