“Leadership is a Position to Take, not Receive”: Suresh Shan, MMFSL IT Head

It is important to understand others views and align yourself with them, and find common ground for success

Suresh Shan, Head – Digital Innovation & Future Technology, Business Information Technology Solutions (BITS), Mahindra & Mahindra Financial Services Ltd.

Sangram Aglave from BW CIO World caught up with Suresh Shan, Head – Digital Innovation & Future Technology, Business Information Technology Solutions (BITS), Mahindra & Mahindra Financial Services Ltd (MMFSL) for an up close and personal conversation revolving around his life experience till date.

Suresh shared his beliefs, life lessons and the importance of Education in the contemporary times. Excerpts:

BW CIO: Please tell us about your career journey and your early days? What got you here

Suresh Shan: I did my graduation and got into a GNIIT program from NIIT. I was exceedingly good at computers from the start. My first job was in Mumbai in the early 1990s. Over the last 27 years, I have earned an MBA and an MCA degree and am currently pursuing a Ph.D. from RKDF Institute of Science and Technology, Bhopal.

I was initially in the Software Development and Delivery(Vendor) side of things and then was given a chance to get onto the receiving(Customer) side of things. I have in a way continued my education through certifications in ITIL Expert, Prince2, Cobit, PMP, ISO 20k, ISO 27k, Lean IT, Pinnacle, Global CIO from ISB, TOGAF- EA, MS D365.

BW CIO: What were some of the subjects that you liked during your school & college days? Who were your favorite teachers?

Suresh Shan: I liked studying different languages. Teacher Jaya Kumari groomed me during my school days. I was a crybaby in school. She made me strong at an emotional level.

BW CIO: Please name the values that are very important to you?

Suresh Shan: If you expect respect, then you have to give respect. I add salutations to all my emails. “Respect” is the most important value, I think, and it get’s extended to many things like respecting time, respecting the environment, respecting people, respecting teachers, education.

BW CIO: What is your leadership style? What are some of the myths around leadership? While many people talk about leadership, do you find common gaps that you come across in public understanding around leadership?

Suresh Shan: There is nothing called leadership. It is a style, and styles evolve. It is important to understand others views and align yourself with them, and find common ground for success. With time, you have to work on expanding your scope of the leadership. You have to keep track of un-demonstrated leadership qualities and find opportunities to develop them.

The myth around leadership is that people give or bestow leadership to a leader and that it is the only a leader develops. In fact, the truth is that a leader has to take the position of leadership. Leadership is about taking over and providing direction and guidance and not about waiting for someone to confer that upon you.

BW CIO: What are some of the beliefs and pet peeves that you saw endure the test of time?

Suresh Shan: If you are good; you will succeed. Those who succeed are responsible for themselves and should understand that the right reasons behind their success. But, we see that people stereotype things, and those manifest through regional identities, language, religion while it hardly improves the odds of success.

On a related note, another one that I think is that Indians give a lot of importance to Surnames. I hope Indians adopt more neutral names, e.g., First name and Father’s name.

BW CIO: What do your kids do? Are they still in college? Are they planning to join IT? If yes, Why and if no, Why not?

Suresh Shan: I have two sons. My elder son is in 11th standard, and the younger one is in 6th standard. They are free to choose the education and profession they would like to pursue. My elder son is keen on building a career in the media. Moreover, he is interested in doing something at the intersection of media and medicine.

BW CIO: Please share your favorite books?

Suresh Shan: There are many. Some are:
* “Who am I” (Nan Yar) by Ramana Maharishi.
* Valley of Masks – by Tarjun Tejpal,
* Jaya by Devdutt Patnaik
* The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli
* The Behavioural Finance by James Montier.

BW CIO: Who are your favorite singers?

Suresh Shan: S Janaki. Hope she gets Bharat Ratna someday.

BW CIO: What is your favorite food?

Suresh Shan: I travel a lot and always prefer having the local food, as they say, be a Roman in Rome.

BW CIO: What are your favorite movies?

Suresh Shan: I like watching movies that empower life, films with purpose, but I hardly watch movies nowadays.

BW CIO: Your message to those who have just started on their career journey and still completing their education.

Suresh Shan: Education reduces ego. Invest in education. Knowledge is not a certificate; it is your behavior. Continuous education is vital for career growth as it keeps your humble.

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leadership Suresh Shan MMFSL IT Head


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