A fast rising performer, N Nataraj, Global CIO, Hexaware and Head
(SVP) IMS Business, Hexaware, has been one of the rare CIOs to
leverage IT to create business opportunities for his firm. He
incubated the IMS service line within Hexaware and now it
contributes approximately 5 percent of revenues in a short span of
time. He has also been instrumental in developing Hexaware’s
private cloud platform, which is now opening the doors for his firm
into several businesses.
As President, CIO KLUB, Bangalore Chapter, and an active and
influential CIO among his peers, and winner of several prestigious
awards such as the Global CIO award from InformationWeek, there are
several important lessons from his career and life, which are
inspirational for emerging CIOs and other IT professionals. He
shares with InformationWeek's
Srikanth RP his key
inspirations from life, and the lessons he has learnt from every
individual. Here is Nataraj in his own words:
I am who I am and where I am, because of the decisions I made in
this life’s journey of 42 years; influenced by my experiences
and lessons learnt from those who inspired me, or those I followed
(as Twitter describes it, today).
What you learn in B-school and professional colleges could be
subject knowledge or dopes on strategy, planning tools, conceptual/
application oriented understanding on people, financials, markets,
technology, etc. Being a learner, what I learn from life, through
experiencing the moments & inspirations from people form the
school that I choose to never graduate from.
Inspirations and learning from others be it family, teachers and
professors, colleagues at work, friends and many achievers who have
been influencers in my life has been the school for me.
My early years
Born in a lower middle class family, shuttling along with my
father across the Delhi – Haryana belt through my childhood,
taught me lessons on hard-work; that there are no shortcuts in
life, one has to earn and deserve every bit of what one gets. I
still remember how my father used to travel 20 km on his way to
office by bicycle even in the peak seasons of summer and winter in
Delhi to save bus expenses.I saw my father as a standing example of
hard-work, discipline, perseverance and commitment.
My elder brother and I didn’t have enough of luxuries; to be
sent to the best of schools, colleges and formal training in our
hobbies; however we were happy – a complete family of four,
each of us unique and strong individuals. Learnings on differences
in people thinking and behavior was an early lesson as a growing
boy. I decided to be serious with academic and aimed at a
successful career; worked hard, scored ranks, qualified for
entrance tests of reputed engineering institutes; I believed that
my high scores would take me to where I am today, professionally;
but life had something else in store; we couldn’t afford the
fees. I put up my case with a dream reputed institute stating,
‘I am an outstanding student!’ The response I got was
every student here is outstanding. How true! I asked myself, what
is my differentiator? I didn’t find an answer then.
Games teach you more than a sport and fitness
I pursued normal education; gained subject knowledge more than
earned a pedigree. Found ways to earn as I learnt. More
importantly, pursed interests that didn’t cost much. Chess,
the game that teaches you strategy, to make the right moves and how
important it is to not make the wrong ones; my grandfather granted
me this game in legacy. He has been a great source of inspiration,
a government employee, man of principles and an ace chess player
apart from varied interests in homeopathy, gardening, tailoring,
music, electronics and mechanics that he pursued with passion. I
learnt the passion that he personified and patience from him. I was
also the college champion and represented my team in the
Khurukshetra University Championship.
The other game that intrigued me over the last decade is Golf.
Haven’t I been lucky? This game of the haves I played for the
first time in Cupertino (California) Golf course in 2005. Till last
year I have been playing almost every weekend in KGA & AGC
(Army Golf course) in Bangalore. I also participated in couple of
championships since 2005 (Cisco Golf tournament in Eagleton, CRY in
KGA, ICICI in Eagleton etc). Didn’t gain enough proficiency
to win a tournament. However, I managed to win a couple of prizes
for the longest drive and putting.
I learnt that it’s not the power but the precision, timing
and tact that matters in every stroke. It’s the same ball,
the hole being the goal; however one needs to choose the club,
which can make the difference. I learnt that rules of games are not
the same, sometimes the lowest score means winning. It is not only
about a talented player who is the best in a sport. Eldrick Tont
Woods, is it the player or the player plus his coaches that make
him Tiger Woods (the giant of a man). The importance of a coach in
one’s life to be the best, how important is that?
“Opportunity is not always obvious” and success
is hugely dependant on what you do next. This is the big
lesson I have learnt while playing Chess or Golf.
Learn from your roots; never forget your past got you to where you
History, mythology has interested me over the years. Well, am not a
religious-ritualistic person; nor into any cult or formal
followership. If I had a boon to be granted, Lord Krishna is a role
I wish to play. Is it the epic Mahabharata, or the Bhagavat Gita or
Krishna that mesmerizes me more? I don’t know. What I do know
is that a portion of my mind and being is engulfed and guided by
Him – call it the ‘concept’ or ‘the
We say the means take you to the end but to me it’s been the
means to the means; the end is Karmanye Vadhikaraste Ma
…. You have very less a say on
the end but everything to do with the means; all that one has in
one’s circle of influence and control is what and how one
thinks, does and communicates.
Chanakya or Chankaya neethi?
This guru from our history is
an institution of governance, political science and management. He
is a live example to emulate on how professors can play a role in
nation building. How managers as coaches can enable high
performance in organizations.
Sometimes television can be your teacher; I thank Dr. BR Chopra and
Dr. Chandraprakash Dwivedi for enabling my deeper interests in
Krishna or Vishnugupta through their ventures on Indian television,
so simplistically directed, for every Indian child to relate to.
And yes, Nitish Bharadwaj and Dr Dwivedi are people, amongst a few
others, I will always be envious of, for enacting these roles.