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New role as head of business is a natural extension of my CIO responsibilities: Jayantha Prabhu, Essar


Recently, Essar named technology veteran and CIO, Jayantha Prabhu, as the India business head of AGC Networks, a global solution integrator. With over 25 years of experience in the technology domain and in the forefront of driving innovation to transform various businesses, Jayantha’s elevation is a sign of the times that CIOs are a natural choice to lead companies. In an interaction with Express Computer, Jayantha Prabhu, shares with us, how he plans to leverage his experience as a CIO in his new role as the head of India business for AGC Networks

Some edited excerpts:

It is rare for CIOs to don business roles. Do you believe this role is a sign of the times that CIOs will be chosen as natural business leaders?
I see this as a sign of Essar’s pro-people and progressive thinking. The organization has never hesitated in entrusting me, as also many others like myself, with added responsibilities. This has helped us expand our competencies and grow as professionals. I have been delivering cutting edge Technology and Digital Transformation initiatives for Essar for a while now. Now that I am charged with providing similar solutions to external customers, I see this as a natural extension of my CIO responsibilities.

With IT being closely aligned to business, I think more non-IT organisations will make the logical move to entrust their top tech talent with competency-based cross-functional opportunities.

Jayantha, you have over 25 years of experience in driving technology led innovation. How do you think that your experience as a CIO will help you in your role as the head of India business for AGC Networks?
I have definitely seen India’s technology roadmap evolve over the last two and a half decades, and I must say that I am fortunate to have witnessed this as part of a IT-driven company like Essar. I have had the opportunity to learn so much about managing change from an IT perspective—right from my initial days when I worked within a IT framework to managing and delivering projects, and finally to leading the IT transformation journey for Essar.

The learning and the experience are proving to be invaluable in my additional role as head of the India business for AGC Networks. They have helped me prepare myself and my teams in enabling AGC’s customers to stay ahead of the curve. Having been on the other side; I can correlate with the CIO’s requirements and will use these insights to train my teams to deliver solutions aligned to their business needs.

Can you share with us some of the key plans you have for AGC Networks in the coming year?
My immediate focus is to strengthen customer relationships by working closely with leading global OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers). At AGC, we believe in tailoring customer-specific solutions through teams of skilled resources in Unified Communications, Network Infrastructure & Data Centre and Digital Transformation solutions, which are secured through the Cyber Security framework. With global security threats on the rise; the focus will be on monitoring and securing the customer’s IT landscape through AGC’s Cyber Security business, CYBER-i. And the services wrap around the customer’s IT infrastructure to deliver, as well as safeguard, innovative technology solutions are the other important priority area at AGC Networks.

As CIO of Essar, what are some of the recent IT initiatives that you have taken recently?
As CIO of Essar, I have been leading the Information Technology stack and business transformation drive for the multinational conglomerate. It has given me access to different business verticals and helped me develop deep domain knowledge. This role also means that I must drive business transformation for internal customers of Essar, with a view to enabling the businesses to achieve their objectives. Essar has been involved in some landmark deals of late, including the sale of Essar Oil which is the largest FDI transaction in India. I have been intimately involved in managing change from an IT perspective and the learnings have been immense. These should stand me in good stead when designing and providing solutions for other organizations in my additional role as Head of India business for AGC Networks.

What are some of the key messages that you want to share with young CIOs who look at you as a role model and aspire to don business roles someday?
Believe in yourself, be open to adapt to change, and be aware that learning is a continuous process.

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