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The Zealous CTO Simi Dhamija follows an organisation-first approach and speaks her mind

By Deepa Vaidya

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Simmi Dhamija, chief transformation officer, Tech Mahindra featured among the "Top 100 Leaders in Technology 2021' (Technology Magazine BizTalk Media) and is also a recipient of the Women Leader of the Year, Tech Mahindra (2018) for passionately supporting and mentoring women at Tech Mahindra. She played a crucial role during the Mahindra Satyam-Tech Mahindra merger in 2012. She also conceptualised Skilling.Nxt, which is her most fulfiling and challenging project at Tech Mahindra, where during her 15 years, she has played various roles in delivery, strategy, business excellence, Transformation Office and as the Chief of Staff.

Commenting on her role and strategies at the time of the merger, says Dhamija, "Mahindra Satyam, I would say, is a milestone in Tech Mahindra's journey. I was driving Performance Management as an area. I took the best practices of Tech Mahindra to Mahindra Satyam, wherein we institutionalise the Balanced Scorecard culture. We make sure that every leader is aware of what is expected from him/her, how do we transparently give a picture to the customers and employees and also to the leaders, saying this is what we are supposed to be achieving. And working with them, in really improving all of those critical initiatives and driving a collaborative strategy among the two culturally diverse organisations."

Sharing the learnings from her tenure at Perot Systems that she applied during the merger, Dhamija says, "The Six Sigma programme taught us to first measure what matters and measure it rightly. There should not be too many or too few metrics. The right measurements/lead indicators and right timelines to discuss it with the leaders was extremely critical."

"Another critical aspect, which I learnt was, keep identifying the areas and keep improving upon them."

Tech Mahindra offers a conducive working culture. It has special focus on diversity and has 34% women employees presently and are aiming for gender parity in the future. Citing her own experiences, she offers advice on how to take on the challenges.

Says Dhamija, "In our case, the culture and the policies of the organisation are highly supportive. But in other organisations those challenges would be there. About breaking barriers, one very important thing I would like to highlight is to, "speak'. When I had this idea at the time of the merger, and I had been doing a Balanced Scorecard at Tech Mahindra. I went to the MD & CEO, Mr. C. P Gurnani, and said, this is an extremely critical initiative, we should do it at Mahindra Satyam side as well and institutionalise and take it to the next level. Gurnani agreed and asked me to directly work with him on that particular project."

"So, if you have an idea, don't sit on it. Talk about it, there's nothing to lose."

She adds, "Secondly, raise your hand even when you are 50% ready. Let the other person decide about your readiness, but at least take some risks and be open to challenges."

Corroborating these two points is when Dhamija had approached Gurnani at the time of the merger and shared her take on the merger even when she didn't have a complete plan in place. "I had done very detailed research. I had a view of what would be the benefits if we really did it, what does it really need to do and what do I bring in this particular process," she says.

"And last but not the least is, extreme ownership. A mantra which I live by is, organisation first, team second and I, me, myself third. I really think about the organisation first. At times it is not a part of your scope of work or not your boundaries. Break the boundaries of your work, and make sure you do whatever is right for the organisation."

Talking about her most ambitious project at Tech Mahindra, she mentions Skilling.Nxt. She says, "Much before the industry started talking about the skill challenge, we had identified and started working in this particular area." She is passionate about learning and that inspired her to come up with Skilling.Nxt.

On what she enjoys about her role, she says, "It touches every life in the organisation, right from an associate to a manager to a senior manager to a CXO level person, and I work in collaboration with them."

On her future plans, she says, "Tech Mahindra is basically on a journey of NXT.NOW. Here, we mean, human centric experiences using emerging technologies like 5G, Blockchain, AI and cloud, wherein we are not only enabling customers, meeting their evolving need, but also helping them meet their customers' customers needs. The Transformation Office is also focused on how do we enable it for the organisation."

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