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Rajneesh Mittal is the Head of Technology & Content at UNext Learning. He is a technology leader with diverse experience in the education, media, and telecom industries. Mittal has over 22 years of experience and has led global technology projects in organizations like Manipal Group, Zee Entertainment, Vodafone, Hewlett Packard, and more.
I like being a technology leader because…There is no business or function that is untouched by technology today. I love exploring all the aspects of a business and being a technology leader gives me a great vantage point to do that. That also fits in well with my take on digital transformation – get to the core of the business, solve business problems using tech, and you have digital transformation done!
An ‘Aha ‘ leadership moment in your professional career.It was a very small moment but one with lasting impact. After a couple of years in a leadership role, during my performance appraisal, my boss told me that he is able to understand technology much better after I have come around. I feel thats a very important attribute of a modern-day CIO/CTO. We have to be on both sides business as well as tech – and be the bridge between the two. We should be able to hop over seamlessly between the two worlds if we really want to be great tech leaders.
As a technology leader what was the toughest decision you made?It was a massive multi-million dollar digital transformation and automation project. And not the enterprise IT one at that a core business system. The decision was between fully outsourcing it vs. building the entire tech stack and running it on our own. I came face to face with the concept of sleepless nights and how long those can seem to be! You go through not only myriad technology choices and the decisions around them but also a full gamut of emotional calls as well. Whats safer to do? Whats the road less traveled? How will it turn out to be a decade later? And so on and so forth. Ultimately, it turned out great for the organisation. Very, very proud of that work.
What’s the next big thing’ in your industry vertical?In education technology, the next big thing is the first thing that probably ever was in education – how do you touch a life through education? And in todays era how do you do that to a student sitting in front of their computer or on the mobile. To what extent technology and content can come together to create that learning experience is what keeps us going.
Where do you see the Head of Technology role heading in the future?Already, the CIO/CTO role as we knew it a decade or so ago is extinct. The expectations from technology to solving business problems are established too. What should pick up steam now is not just deploying technology, but also creating technology. Every business needs some specific tech and this is when a CTO comes into prominence. As CTOs, we should also look to creating tech for our businesses. This paradigm shift from deploying to creating technology calls for a sea-change in our approach. And this era is upon us.
One thing that the Head of Technology should learn from the business?No self-indulgence. Technology is serious business; you can’t just deploy a piece of tech because it’s a shiny new toy in the market. There has to be a business need, there has to be ROI, there has to be a justifiable capital allocation to everything that we do in tech, much like in business.
If you were famous, what would you be?Oh, a million options there. World #1 tennis player (top 10 would also do as long as its singles), a YouTuber with a billion followers, a movie writer, or even Prime Minister. Why stop dreaming!