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What It Takes To Become A Company's Innovation Officer

What It Takes To Become A Company's Innovation Officer
Image credit: Tata Trusts and Mozilla

Traditional and new-age companies are aggressively trying to tap the latest technologies available to get an edge over existing market players. Business entities are no longer contented with a particular area of specialization, instead they want to spread their roots to a multitude of arenas, be it healthcare, real estate, enterprise companies, retail and others.

The Entrepreneur India spoke to Manoj Kumar, who heads the innovation, entrepreneurship and institutional relationships of Tata Trusts and Katharina Borchert, CIO at Mozilla, to understand the role of innovation officers in companies and the importance of hiring the right people for the job. It is important to note here that the two are from two different geographies.  

Though CIOs are very common in the Silicon Valley, India is yet to see well-structured JDs to accommodate the role. Executives are often seen taking up multiple roles under one position.

Talking about the relevance of this role in general, Kumar said innovation officers’ role is to keep companies updated and make customers understand their relevance in today’s hyper-competitive environment.

The Role’s Relevance

“An Innovation officer’s job is to roll out new game-changing solutions that will create sustainable advantage for the company. It works wonders for small, agile, highly talented and productive teams, who are focussed about mission and incentives,” Kumar said.

Tata Trusts runs incubator and accelerator programmes for innovators and provide them hands-on operational support and seed capital to build high impact, disruptive solutions to India’s development sector challenges.

On the other hand, speaking completely from her experience from the Silicon Valley, Borchert said the work of a CIO demands breaking up organizational silos and creating a healthy atmosphere that encourages creative thinking to churn out fresh ideas.

“The CIO is an enabler who designs processes and introduces best practices. This will allow him or her to create a space for others to develop and drive novel concepts. The role often includes analyzing trends and identifying emerging new market opportunities to make appropriate investment decisions,” she said.

“My team and I make a lot of effort in designing and implementing models that allow us to develop a diversified community of contributors and problem-solvers,” she added.

Set up in 1998, Mozilla is a free-software community created by members of Netscape. On the other hand, at Tata Trusts, the company works for the underprivileged in providing livelihood, water & sanitation, healthcare, nutrition.