CxO of the Week: Divy Shrivastava, Co-Founder & CEO, Nineleaps

By : |July 9, 2019 0
Divy Shrivastava has over ten years of experience as an entrepreneur and leader in helping enterprises and ventures build software technology products.

What is your top priority while making decisions to improve tech infra in your organization?

There are several factors that we take into account to decide on improving the technology infrastructure at Nineleaps.

Productivity Benefits are one of the critical parameters that drive a decision for technology adoptions. The benefits in productivity can be in terms of staff-hours saved, faster response time, higher / improved quality of services, lesser maintenance, etc. Sometimes we also have to undertake proof-of-concept or a pilot to determine the tangible benefits to productivity.

We also use Return on Investment (RoI) to build a business case for investments, where possible. We also need to consider the changing technology dynamics, and how that calls for upgrades to the systems, example with Micro-services and prevalent use of containers during software development, we were prompted to upgrade our development systems to ensure things work faster.

Some infrastructure investments also are based upon the competitive advantage or potential advantages that we can gain in the future. These, we might not be able to justify immediately on productivity alone. Some investments are also for R&D and learning like Wearable Devices, VR Headsets that can have potential revenue opportunities in the future.

Critical to our business success is teamwork and close collaboration with our customers. The need for closer cooperation drives a lot of technology infrastructure investments. Even how a given technology impacts collaboration plays a crucial role in decision making.

Systems today do not exist in isolation. Every system is interacting and interfacing with other systems within the organization to provide a complete solution. The integrations and the ability to integrate with the existing systems is key to adopting a new system.

When evaluating options and choosing between alternatives, we take into account the total cost of ownership (TCO) from the system.

Finally, as laws around data evolve, customers have started putting a premium on data security and privacy. The compliance of products on data aspects is critical.

Challenges you face in driving digital transformation?

Regarding the challenges that we face while driving digital transformation, one of the critical factors of achieving success is visualizing a customer’s digital journey. If one is clear about that, then the rest of the variables start to fall in place. To come up with the customer’s journey requires significant investment from senior management and substantial decision-making power. Many times digital transformation is done without the right empowerment or without having clarity on end outcome, this leads mostly to stalled investments or suboptimal outcomes. The business processes also have to evolve to make the transition successful.

Another aspect is ensuring you have the right team. People who can think digital. We are not saying that you need to change the entire team but having the right people in the key places who can influence decisions is very important. Also, how empowered the team members are plays a critical role in ensuring that your digital transformation will be successful or not.

The third aspect is ensuring the right culture. What we have seen about teams that have successfully transitioned into the digital space is that they are mostly agile,  operate independently, and are given autonomy. The organization culture also has to evolve for them to transform successfully.

The autonomy has to come with accountability, bringing in the right performance KPIs is essential. Setting digital KPIs is where a lot of organizations need help. Once you have set those benchmarks, then you would need to empower your teams by giving them the autonomy.

Do you feel that freshers in the industry come with only basic knowledge but don’t have the right skills to fulfil job requirements? If yes, your suggestion to students and colleges?

Technology and the industry that we are in is changing is very rapidly, and it can be quite hard to keep pace with it, with new frameworks coming every year or two, there has been a paradigm shift in technology over the last 10-15 years.

The job roles and expectations have also evolved substantially, the breadth of knowledge required today, even at a starting level is higher. Today, we expect developers to be full-stack they need to know development, testing, deployment, and have the ability to understand nuances of business as well. These used to be very separate roles just a few years back. The need for a broader skill-set is due to reduced time to market, and faster response times that are needed by the businesses today.

Another significant shift is the systems are very interconnected now, the teams are becoming smaller, but the need for collaboration is much higher, this requires excellent communication and interpersonal skills.

The expectation also is that an individual would be able to work independently, with minimal supervision, should be able to make decisions and handle ambiguity.

Anyone entering this system has a substantial bar to cross, and freshers are no exceptions.

Good programs for onboarding talent can be designed that help them transition into a productive workforce. Even though we see skill gaps, there are also positives on the behavioural aspects. They have a willingness to learn, improve, and make an impact. Many people I interact with are quite passionate and hardworking.

Now what we as Nineleaps do is that we have a program that takes freshers through the process and the centrepiece of that process is doing things by yourself. So instead of coming to a classroom and teaching you, we will give you set objectives. And you work on those set of objectives with some guidance, a lot of courses are available on-demand, we can mentor you, but you will have to do things on your own and learn. Experimentation is the key to learning, you have to experience and learn by doing.

To the students, I would say find projects and do it, think of some problem that you face that technology can solve and then build that system. The learning would be immense. Simple everyday things, you do not need any big company, or professor to give you a problem.

Today it is not at all difficult to develop a mobile app or any application as such. Almost everything is open source, and a lot of free content is available. The only thing that you need to do is think of a project or idea and do the work to ensure you complete it. The project will give you a lot of exposure and experience and most importantly, the breadth that you need to survive today. Expecting a traditional classroom setting to deliver this breadth is not feasible.

What’s your mantra to become successful in life?

I think for me it is about finding the purpose, or my calling, the passion that I have towards technology. That acts as a strong motivator and keeps me going. I have also been lucky to have great teachers, mentors, colleagues, and friends. I do mostly what my heart says, that brings a lot of passion, and there is no substitute for hard work.

What would you like to give back to society?

I truly believe that tech can change society, that it can transform society for the better. It can drive efficiencies, enhance the reach, and improve the effectiveness of any program or initiative. If I can facilitate and build technology that can act as a catalyst for a broader social impact, I believe that is the best way I can make an Impact in the society.

I can use the skills that I have acquired in building scalable product and platforms, and apply them to social platforms that I can create a small impact.

We already work with various organizations that are building large platforms for social impact. We work with Wadhwani Foundation, Arghyam, Socion, and Skill Train on their social platforms. These platforms work towards skill development, employability, vocational skills, and job creation and discovery.

Your favourite book and what are you reading now?

My reading these days is mostly about management and self-development. At present, I am reading Exponential Organizations by Salim Ismail. I enjoy reading non-fiction and biographies; one of the most influential books for me has been Made in Japan by Akio Morita.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I am very enthusiastic and passionate about cars. I follow other car enthusiasts on YouTube, watch some car shows, and I like going on long drives.

Achievements (Awards & Recognitions)

APAC CIO Outlook Top 10 Agile Solution Provider 2018APAC CIO Outlook Top 10 Agile Solution Provider 2019LinkedIn Top 25 Startups in India 2018

Experience

Over the last ten years as an entrepreneur and leader in helping enterprises and ventures build software technology products that can scale, perform, and integrate well with the tech ecosystem.

First Job – My first job was with Tata Motors, I was involved with Manufacturing Planning of Stamping Shop.

Education – Bachelor of Technology in Metallurgical & Materials Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras in 2005Post Graduate Diploma in Management (PGDM) from Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Kozhikode in 2009.

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