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Sunil Pandey: Setting 'Leadership' Benchmarks for Modern-day CIOs

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Sunil Pandey,CIO

As the COVID-19 pandemic has unfolded, CIOs have faced epic challenges unlike any they've previously weathered. For many business leaders, recovery isn't just a return to their former state but a top-to-bottom rethinking of what business they need to be in and how it must run. Sunil Pandey, CIO of JWIL Infra, has exceptional talent in providing digital transformation solutions that engage executive management and diverse teams at all levels to develop IT roadmaps with the vision, strategy, and release plans. He has 24 years of experience collaborating with culturally diverse, multi-geographical teams and multiple vendors in adopting a pragmatic approach in improvising on solutions and resolving complex business issues with digitalization & technology adoption. Further, Sunil has exclusively narrated a spectrum of aspects about himself and his firm with the CIO Insider. Here are the excerpts!

In conversation with Sunil Pandey, CIO, JWIL Infra

The role of a CIO has changed in multifarious ways over the last decade. Beyond being a technology facilitator, a modern CIO contributes directly to the growth of the organization. As a CIO with a great wealth of experience, how do you perceive this change, and how do you respond to the new challenges?
Gone are the days when the responsibilities of a CIO were limited to only the technology department. Now a modern CIO touches almost every department in a company. This change

has made our role more critical and vigilant in business. The modern CIO is expected to consistently find ways to engage and improve customers, partners, employees, and shareholders' experience. The proven way to achieve this is by crafting a meaningful digital transformation roadmap and aligning business KPIs outcomes.

What inspired you to onboard this journey in the water management industry? And what were the initial challenges that taught you the fundamental lessons of leadership and helped you achieve the success you had in the later phase?
After working for companies with a strong presence in the power generation and transmission industry, joining the water management industry was the next more logical move. We all know that humanity is facing a water crisis. We at JWIL address this challenge by delivering end-to-end solutions for projects in drinking water, irrigation, wastewater, and industrial effluent treatment.

The modern CIO is expected to consistently find ways to engage and improve customers, partners, employees, and shareholders' experience

Moreover, the initial challenge was domain knowledge of the water industry and finding areas where digital transformation can positively impact. Spending the first 30 days to understand the industry by understanding systems, interviewing process owners, and participating in various webinars/events of the water industry was crucial. After understanding critical areas, we crafted our digital transformation roadmap, which is tightly integrated with business KPIs and utilizes platforms, practices, technologies, and tools like PaaS, DevOps, IIoT, GIS, DevOps, effective collaboration, and analytics layer. I am

expecting this journey to be completed by July 2021 before entering the continuous improvement phase.

How has been JWIL's response to the challenges posed by the covid-affected market and the need for new technology strategies, especially about safety? How would you describe your role in tackling those challenges?
The water management projects in the execution phase were on hold due to the unavailability of the contractual workforce, which impacted our billing and revenue from operations. However, we could identify several opportunities that have arisen because of the COVID-19 pandemic. These opportunities mainly relate to adopting and trialing new ways of working and new technologies. We made various technological adaptations to our ways of working, with some of these adaptations proving successful. Some of them are making greater use of existing technology and collaboration tools for remote working. Then, private & public (wherever applicable) cloud adoption to promote work from home. Thirdly, replacing existing technology such as digital meter reading processes. And, lastly accelerating the trend towards handling customer interactions via lower-cost digital channels.

In the light of your substantial experience in the technology industry, what advice would you give to the budding CIOs?
As CIOs, we have seen information technology role transitioning from digitization to digitalization and IT-as-service to IT-as -an enabler. Organizations have started looking at CIO as entrepreneurial leaders who evolve their organizations into centers of excellence that engineer enterprise-wide collaboration and innovation, transforming business models. In my opinion, the key mantra to succeed in the future will be an in-depth understanding of how business is run in terms of processes, customer engagement, partner collaboration, and shareholders' expectations. It will create a reliable and robust partner network to fill gaps in skills and competencies.

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