Important Technology Leadership Mantras of This Tech-ade


imageThe Indian IT industry is expected to grow to $ 350 billion in revenues by 2030. While this bets huge on abundant business opportunities in the segment, the challenges will be equal in magnitude. It’s vital to get your technology leadership mantras right. Lend your ears to Reema Aggarwal, Country Head - Public Cloud for India, Rackspace Technology, who walks us through the opportunities and challenges in the Indian IT industry.  Reema is a seasoned leader with two decades of experience in the technology sector, specializing in business strategy, sales leadership, and the enhancement of operational efficiency. Her illustrious career has seen her at the helm of various leadership roles within esteemed technology corporations such as BlueYonder (subsequently integrated into Panasonic), Microsoft, Alibaba, Lazada, and Amazon. Joining Rackspace last year, Aggarwal will spearhead the company’s Public Cloud business growth in the country. 

In conversation with Reema Aggarwal, Country Head - Public Cloud for India, Rackspace Technology

Could you shed light on the factors that will further contribute to India's exponentially growing IT industry?

There is an appetite here to be at the forefront of technology, which is why the IT ecosystem in India is as robust as it is. For instance, businesses here have been enthusiastic about adopting flexible technologies such as serverless computing that enable modern data infrastructure. This has been key to opening the door to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning initiatives. Hence, in essence, the generally future-forward inclination of companies here is a significant pull factor for international clients seeking cutting-edge solutions, further perpetuating the ecosystem.

Meanwhile, there is also a favorable regulatory environment and ample government support in the form of initiatives like “Digital India.” As a result, the national landscape fosters technology adoption—including the latest advances in artificial intelligence (AI)—and entrepreneurship.

How do you perceive the outlook of the business landscape going forward, and how does Rackspace Technology see the transformation of IT, business and talent?

There is a burgeoning appetite for data and infrastructure modernization, especially as AI momentum builds. In fact, 80 percent of participants in a recent Rackspace Technology white paper said that failure to modernize would prevent AI optimization. Meanwhile, a third expressed that they lacked the expertise to implement modernization.

In addition, the complex macroeconomic landscape means companies must be more intentional about where they direct their resources. So, while there won't be a complete turning off of the tap, expect continued rollbacks on investments in infrastructure hardware and servers.

Meanwhile, the talent gap presents its own set of challenges, especially as technology advances. Finding talents who can work with new tools can be challenging, accelerating demand and resulting in organizations grappling with an acute shortage of expertise. That being said, it does look like decision-makers, in general, acknowledge the need to run upskilling programs and provide smart technology options to expand the talent pool.

Tell us about your leadership approach. What are the guidelines or methodologies you follow as a leader?

Effective communication is indispensable in any workplace, and the IT sector is no exception. My approach is to focus on continually honing my communication skills because not everyone communicates the same way. After all, everyone wants to collaborate seamlessly with colleagues from different expertise areas; discussions of intricate technical details with non-technical stakeholders are an example.

Meanwhile, as a leader, I think it is critical to back words up with deeds. So, if I want my team to be proactive, I must approach work in the same vein. Furthermore, this has helped me cultivate decision-making capabilities, strategic thinking, proficiency in project management, and adept team-building skills.

Finally, given the perpetual evolution of the IT industry, continuous learning is imperative. Adopting a mindset of lifelong learning may come across as cliche, but it is essential to keep up with the latest trends, tools, and technologies. This commitment to ongoing skill enhancement keeps me on my toes and helps me lead in a competitive IT landscape.

How would you define your team? As an IT leader, what skills do you look for in fresh candidates?

Our team is a dynamic collective of skilled professionals united by a shared commitment to excellence. We thrive on collaboration, innovation, and a collective drive to achieve our goals. When assessing the suitability of fresh graduates, I look to see if they can insert themselves in such an environment. While technical expertise is immensely important, this is not the only barometer.

That being said, it’s certainly normal that fresh graduates are by no means finished articles. They must be allowed to learn, and leaders should give them the support they need to grow. However, fresh graduates must also arm themselves with the skills to demonstrate that they have the capacity to learn quickly and adapt to new challenges.

Equally important are strong interpersonal skills, including effective communication, teamwork, and the ability to convey complex technical concepts to non-technical stakeholders. A proactive, problem-solving attitude, and a commitment to continuous learning are qualities that align with our team's ethos. Overall, I seek candidates who not only bring technical prowess but also contribute to the collaborative and innovative spirit that defines our high-performing IT team.

Finding your niche is not easy, but through curiosity and staying abreast of the latest developments you will grow. In addition, don’t be afraid to seek out challenging projects to enhance problem-solving abilities and gain diverse experiences

In the battle of legacy vs. new age, how do you look at transformation and growth opportunities?

As an IT leader, I strategically harness newer technologies to drive transformation and capitalize on growth opportunities. I like to think that digital transformation is critical to improving an organization, so aligning technology adoption with strategic business goals is crucial for a cohesive approach. In other words, IT spending should prioritize integration. In the age of AI, as well as cloud and edge computing, this seamlessness between various tools is critical in optimizing existing workflows for a more responsive IT environment.

Meanwhile, harnessing the power of expertise through collaboration is also a major boon to how I approach new technologies. For instance, this can—and is—done via conversations with industry leaders, either in private or public forums. This engenders a deeper understanding of how new technologies apply to your strategic objectives, which opens doors to innovative solutions and fosters sustained growth in an ever-evolving technological landscape.

What would be your advice to professionals aiming to set benchmarks in their careers in this industry?

Well firstly, think about what is in demand and see how your existing skills can meet those needs. As with anything, finding your niche is not easy, but through curiosity and staying abreast of the latest developments you will grow. In addition, don’t be afraid to seek out challenging projects to enhance problem-solving abilities and gain diverse experiences.

Another thing is to learn how to proactively contribute ideas, showcase leadership potential, and seek mentorship for guidance. Look to build a professional network through industry events, forums, and online platforms to gain insights, share knowledge, and open avenues for collaboration. Striving for certifications and advanced degrees also bolsters credibility, while investing in self-improvement more generally enables you to gain skills that can help you move vertically or even pivot in another direction altogether.

Lastly, maintain a strong work ethic, deliver consistently high-quality results, and seek feedback for continuous improvement. Setting benchmarks requires a blend of technical prowess, interpersonal skills, adaptability, and a commitment to ongoing professional development.