CxO of the Week: Nitant Desai, Chief Centralised Operations & Technology Officer, PNB Housing Finance

By : |January 17, 2020 0

CxO of the Week: Nitant Desai is an astute professional with more than 33 years of varied and relevant experience in retail finance with leading banks and financial institutions in India and the Middle East. He has vast knowledge in operations management, client servicing, quality & compliance and business process re-engineering.

Prior to PNB Housing, he has worked with reputed organisations like HDFC Life Insurance Co. Ltd., Union National Bank – Abu Dhabi, ICICI Bank Ltd., GE Countrywide, TATA Finance Ltd. and HDFC Ltd.

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

Infrastructure technology is fast changing ecosystem and hence the priorities change based on situation as one size fits all does not really work here. For improving this framework, the new dilemma is choosing between a cloud and on premise solution, and prioritizing the one that fits the bill.

Moreover, aspects such as CAPEX and op-ex also has to be factored in before making a decision. Likewise, there are other factors that have to be considered such as ease of adoption and sustainability, in addition to value for the customers, stakeholders, management and board of directors.

Alongside, operational efficiency, increased productivity, compliance to the law of the land and security are other facets to be factored in.

Adding to the insights, at PNB Housing we have hybrid platforms as our services require customisation of applications, which is difficult on the public cloud. On the other hand, some applications like the enterprise communication system are hosted on leading public cloud platforms.

Challenges you face in driving digital transformation?

Technology is a fast-evolving domain, and in this, the major challenge most CTOs/CIOs face is quick evaluation and implementation of a technology solution before it becomes obsolete in a rapidly changing landscape.

For instance, we had launched an online fixed deposit platform, where people could easily create a deposit by simply submitting their Aadhaar details online. However, the platform had to be put on hold after the recent ruling of Hon’ble Supreme Court prohibiting banks and institutions from taking confidential Aadhaar details from people.

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

At PNB Housing, we value fresh talent and we have a management trainee program to further nurture and make them industry-ready. I indeed believe that the new-age workforce come with a bundle of fresh ideas and energy.

Investing six to seven months in them could ensure well-rounded, future-ready professionals. Furthermore, these new professionals also bring in some new values and skills sets with them. My suggestions to the aspiring students would be to keep up with the industry updates on a regular basis.

What’s your mantra to become successful in life?

My mantra for being professionally successful is to thoroughly know the business that you are into and be a part of the team. For personal growth, it is also important to mingle with all age groups. The fact of the matter is, in order to be successful in any organisation, one needs to turn your function from a cost centre to one among the top-line contributors of the organisation.

What would you like to give back to the society?

Speaking in a professional context, having spent most my career in the housing finance sector, I have come to realise that through our bouquet of products and services, not only do we create funds to fulfil people’s dream of their own house, but also incite hope for many others to have an own roof.

Apart from that, when people take loans and invest into housing property, it indirectly creates employment opportunities for many associated stakeholders. On a personal front, I believe in being a good citizen and creating a culture of cleanliness, thereby giving back to society.

Your favourite book and what are you reading now?

At the moment I find it a little difficult to point a finger at any one favourite, but I read books on bankers. Sometimes I prefer to read light like autobiographies of Rishi Kapoor, Asha Parekh, Karan Johar and so on. I am a Hindi movie buff so I also read up a lot on Bollywood gossip.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Most the time I hardly have time to spare, but when I do, I try to catch up on my sleep and otherwise I spend time listening to retro Bollywood music.

Achievements (Awards & Recognitions)

At PNB Housing, the Information Technology and Centralised Operations unit which I lead, has won accolades across prestigious platforms for innovation, project management, operational excellence, IT security and the list goes on.

On the personal front, I was humbled on being inducted in the Hall of Fame of International Data Group recently after winning four consecutive CIO100 awards at PNB Housing. I was also felicitated by Trescon at the BIG 50 BFSI Leaders Awards.

Experience

I started my career in 1983 and when I look back at the last 36 years, it fills me with a lot of joy knowing that I got a chance to being a mentor to many young aspirants. As they say, learning never stops, right from my management study days at NMIMS where I completed my education in Master in Financial Management to my first job at HDFC Ltd. until today, it has been a life span filled with immense learning and laughter.

First Job – HDFC Ltd.
Education – Master in Financial Management from NMIMS

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