It’s a Catch 22
Channel Post speaks with Savitha Bhaskar, COO, Condo Protego about facing challenges in IT industry and overcoming them.
Tell us about your leadership style and philosophy.
I believe leadership styles and philosophies boil down to personal leadership, each individual taking control of his or her life and destiny, and pushing themselves to be socially useful and productive. Success in the corporate world, just like it is in life in general, is heavily dependent on collaboration and teamwork. Throughout my career, I have found that a successful team is one that consists of individuals who believe in taking personal leadership seriously.
What made you choose IT as a career opportunity?
I grew up in the India’s Silicon Valley, Bangalore, in the 1980s. When Bangalore opened its doors to multi-national corporations in the early 1990s, I happened to be there at the right time and in the right place. Like many young graduates, I was head-hunted by what was then the largest IT company in the world – IBM. Of course, it helped that I had worked at IT companies such as Apple and Informix during my university years.
How has your unique background prepared you for success in the industry?
My continuous background in IT, and opportunities to work in various Business Units has ensured that I have a broad exposure to business practices. During my career, I have served in roles ranging from education services, to sales and marketing roles such as product manager, channel manager, and key account manager. Thanks to this breadth and depth of experience, I was able to quickly see that the correlation between customer satisfaction and consistent delivery of services is only possible in process-driven environments. My experience has also taught me the importance of collaboration and teamwork. In my view, all of these ingredients are essential to success in any industry, especially IT.
What was your most interesting job?
I’d have to say that my most interesting job is my current role at Condo Protego. We have grown the company to more than 300 customers across a wide range of industry verticals, have posted year-on-year double-digit revenue growth, and earned accolades from major vendors.
At Condo Protego, I have been able to move out of my comfort zone of an Account Manager to my current role of Chief Operating Officer, where I am responsible for full business operations, ranging from sales operations, to technical operations, to back-office operations. I enjoy the close bonds that we develop among our team of like-minded individuals, and also the business agility of being a lean and efficient organization.
What advice would you give to women looking to break into the field of computer technology?
Women looking to break into IT should be clear on their goals, and not expect to receive any special treatment for their gender. There was a whitepaper as early as the 1990s, commissioned by IBM, which showed that there is no unbreakable glass ceiling for women in the IT field.
Still, a lot has changed over the years. When I came to Dubai in 1997, there were very few women working in front-line sales or decision-making roles, and instead were mostly in back-office or admin roles. Since then there are a lot more women, especially in the IT field, but not enough.
It’s a Catch 22: Do women want to move to the front, and are they ready to make the same compromises that men do with respect to prioritizing work? And are there enough employers who are willing to give women a chance, and not assume they will not make those sacrifices?
What is the greatest transformation in technology you’ve witnessed in your career?
The tech industry changes drastically every few years. I personally have seen computing move from host-centric to client-server, to network centric, and finally to data-centric.
Now we are in the data-centric Digital Economy, which is all about how organizations use data to transform business models, products, and services, and leveraging the data created by end-users. This Digital Economy, in my opinion, is the greatest transformation in our industry till today, as it brings with it enormous potential to change the very way that mankind lives and works.
What are your thoughts on the next transformation in the tech industry?
I believe the next transformation will be led by cognitive and exponential technologies, such as cognitive systems that can manage Big Data better, along with artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, and robotics.
Are you involved in any sort of volunteer work? Can you give us some details?
Every person has a social responsibility to support their causes. The three causes close to my heart that I support are environmental and wildlife protection, historic preservation and protection of cultural heritage, especially in India, and helping the elderly and senior citizens.
What’s next for you in terms of your career in the tech industry?
As COO, I am committed to driving Condo Protego goals of growing our customer base in the UAE and our Consulting practice across the region.
We need to remain relevant to our customers by continuing to offer them the cutting-edge of data management solutions that leverage converged systems, software-defined everything, and additional innovations, along with maintaining and growing the leadership that we have in these areas.
In the future, I would also like to support fellow SMEs and women-run organizations and entrepreneurs in their growth plans. SMEs such as Condo Protego are the engine that drive the UAE’s diversified economy, and we are proud to be supporting the country’s growth.