Tech Talk with Mr. Ravi Krishnaswamy

From Microsoft to Flipkart and now InMobi, its current CTO, Mr. Ravi Krishnaswamy has had quite a journey. In a candid tête-à-tête with the man himself, we got the technocrat to throw light upon the breadth of experiences he gained working across two continents, different companies, and diverse business verticals. In our candid Tech Talk series, we also got the Tech maverick to talk about the transformations taking place at InMobi and share helpful insights for aspiring CTOs.

Ravi had spent close to two decades at Microsoft, which as we are well aware of is a global technology conglomerate. Working there was all about building a large-scale system in the B2B sector. It called for intensive and extensive leadership and management capabilities. Juggling multiple verticals, private-public platforms, as a well as, a host of different operations in a partner-led model. A mean feat if you ask us. And it was made possible solely by the best of the best, which is what probably persuaded the e-commerce giant in India to bring him home to manage their enterprise. Yes, you guessed right! We’re talking about Flipkart.

In our interview, Ravi referred to Flipkart, as the “internet darling in India.” An apt title judging by the way it took the e-commerce business by storm. From a B2B industry, Ravi’s Flipkart journey commenced by handling its B2C tech domain. From cracking ideas to beat the competitors in the market, coming up with innovative approaches to rake in revenues and drive sales like Flipkart’s ultra-successful Big Billion Sale. It was a whole new world for Mr. Krishnaswamy, but one that he dominated all too well. Now bought over by Walmart, the Flipkart story took a different turn, but Ravi’s desire to explore more avenues of opportunities remained the same.

Once again, Mr. Ravi Krishnaswamy was back again in a B2B setup which brought him full circle from his days spent at Microsoft. InMobi is a global technology player in the tech market. In the span of 1 year that Ravi has been at the company, he oversaw a huge transformational shift in the very DNA of the company. He likened it to “changing the tires of the Boeing after it has taken off.” But the change was a result of intensive research, best practices, and kickass strategy. One such strategy was the partnership with Microsoft, which resulted in a big boost for InMobi, and which led to co-innovation, co-productions, co-marketing, and co-selling. A major feat for the enterprise, and a big win for Mr. Ravi Krishnaswamy. But that wasn’t all that happened. There were also strategic acquisitions like the merge with Sprint.

“A CEO cannot be successful without leveraging a CTO” these were the words that Mr. Ravi Krishnaswamy uttered with complete conviction. And judging by his accomplishments which covers a 360 perspective, we know why. A partnership between the CEO and CTO is vital for the growth and success of a firm. It’s also crucial that they are the right fit for each other and exist on the same plane when it comes to the future vision for the company. More and more CEOs these days are recruiting CTOs who can help take their company to the next level. But what’s crucial is that CTOs too should be able to scale-up to match the CEOs vision. A piece of key advice that Mr. Krishnaswamy has for aspiring CTOs is to have a “full stack perspective”. Which means not limited yourself to the tech space, but garnering insights and experience across a wide spectrum of disciplines like management, innovations, and executions.

Mr. Ravi Krishnaswamy is just one example of visionaries that we have helped place. For us, at Purple Quarter, being a value fit for the firm is extremely important. Extensive research, detailed investigations, and case studies are just some of the steps we follow to bring you the right candidate. When it comes to sourcing in today’s job market, you can always rely on Purple Quarter to find you a Purple Squirrel who can take your firm to the next level.

Ten Books a CTO shouldn’t miss out on

Knowledge is power, and this is especially true for CTOs in the present industrial economy which is constantly evolving. To keep abreast with the latest news and developments, it’s vital for CTOs to constantly update their knowledge bank. But when you’re constantly scrunched for a time between deadlines, leading your team, and heading the tech division of a company, it may be a tad difficult to always be in trend with the latest developments.

Tech blogs and newsletters don’t do justice to those who have an appetite for a lot of information. Events, symposiums, and conferences are a great way to connect to the tech space and read and learn about new innovations to hit the market, but it’s not always possible to be at all of them. One thing that will never let you down though, is a book that you can carry around with you. During those few minutes of breaks between meetings, you can always read a page or two and complete the rest when you get back home. We’ve picked out ten books that we think is a good read for every CTO.

  1. Hooked

Getting your consumers hooked onto your brand. That’s how the game is played and that’s what Hooked is all about. It’s about getting noticed amongst all the noise in the digital space. It delves into psychology, how brands play on it, what stays, what fades, and what you can do to create products that are remembered for long.

  1. Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action

The book decodes the way great leaders think and communicate. Author Sinek terms this as “The Golden Circle”. It’s the perfect framework within which companies can be built and that can inspire change. It all starts with the question, “why?”.

  1. The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change The Way You Do Business

Author Clayton M. Christensen talks about the reasons why firms lose their market leadership. They may be doing all the right things and checking all the boxes, but sometimes it’s best to “not” listen to consumers. The right time to develop lower end products and high-performance products, targeting small markets and big markets. It’s a book that throws light on all these facets and makes for the great guide.

  1. Rework

Authored by the duo Jason Fried and David Hansson of the development company, 37 Signals. The book offers effective strategies for running a digital business. It busts myths that hamper your progress and offers solutions. Rework includes practical and innovative ideas that can be implemented for your firm’s growth.

  1. The Phoenix Project

The book focuses on DevOps and despite being a technical book, is very much an engaging read. It throws light upon a systems-thinking approach to help your team be more productive. It also highlights commonalities between manufacturing and IT.

  1. The Mythical Man-Month

It was published 30 years back, but till today it remains a book that has made an impact in the software development space. It decodes the human factor in the realm of software engineering. If you want to ace as a CTO and a team leader, then this book is a must-read.

  1. Continuous Delivery

It’s a book that helps breakdown software delivery processes and lays down guidelines for new and improved strategies and methodologies. Automation, testing, deployment, it has it all.

  1. Peopleware: Productive Projects And Teams

This book bridges the gap between humans and technology. Tech issues are human issues; the best way to solve them is by first going to the crux of the problem. This means focusing on your team and building better leadership skills. Better workforce generates better software enhancement. For CTOs this is probably your Bible.

  1. The Hard Thing About Hard Things

In this book, author Ben Horowitz gives an insight into what drives Silicon Valley. It’s great entrepreneurship advice for CTOs. Right from challenges, negotiations, firing or hiring employees, to managing your own psyche, it spills the beans on it all.

  1. Don’t Make Me Think! A Common Sense Approach To Web Usability

Decode the minds of consumers to get an idea of how web designs can be simplified, beautifies, and made easier to access. If you’re a programmer, writer, editor, or designer, then this book has to be on your reading list.

So, now that we’ve listed out a bunch of books that you can stack up and get reading on, the challenge lies in you finding the time to read them all. Start with one, read a few pages at your workplace, and make it a ritual before bedtime to at least complete one chapter. Believe us, the wealth of knowledge that you’ll gain will transform the way you think and operate.


How to Hire an Internet-Era CTO?

What do you mean by an internet-era CTO? When you hear the term, do you picture a well suited millennial technocrat or a seasoned professional heading the tech division of a company? Simply put, an internet-era CTO creates an ideal work strategy and process, to usher in and run the digital side of a business. They run existing IT systems and processes, and are constantly on the hunt for new innovations in the market; that can help boost the growth of their company. When it comes to their game plan, they have three big goals in mind:

  1. To take charge and ensure smooth processing.
  2. Create a digitally sound environment that thrives on embracing new changes.
  3. Crack the next big idea and growth strategy.

Technology skills are in high demand over the world, and what’s even better than identifying and hiring a tech genius, is recruiting one that’s a package deal. By this we mean, someone who’s a techie, leader, and great manager. So how do you find a candidate that matches this?

Know what youre looking for

You need to find a candidate who fits your requirements like a glove. They need to have an attitude and aptitude. Here are some of the qualifications that you should look out for when you start the hunt. They should have a sufficient amount of experience in scaling and creating digital services. A knowledge bank when it comes to different digital technologies and experience working with them. Words like “continuous delivery” and “DevOps” are their favorite scrabble words, which means that they are well-versed in what these terms denote and their functioning. They have worked with open source tools and communities. They even know how to market these tools. They have strong leadership skills and have even lead teams of engineers and agile, architects, and developers. Strong communicators, they probably even delivered a Ted Talk. They are regulars at tech symposiums and have connections in the tech space. They are clued in on data migration and applications from proprietary technology environments and legacy. They’ve had large scale negotiation with tech vendors and know how to build partnerships and identify profitable acquisitions. They also need to be mentors who can pass down knowledge and develop the skills of other promising minds.

Know how to tell

You may have a list of requirements, but are you equipped enough to analyze and judge them? Against which parameters will you asses the relevancy of the potential candidates’ skill sets? In order to crack this conundrum, you’ll have to have a trusted advisor by your side. They’ll help sieve through your requirements, and have a more detailed understanding of the candidates. Your advisor can also help fill in the cracks if your recruitment process is not going as well as you would have wanted. They’ll help spot out the missing pieces of the puzzle and help complete the picture.

Go where they are

The world’s a small place and you never know, you might just meet your future CTO at the same annual tech gathering that you’re at. Brilliant minds think alike and are always on the quest to learn more. So, the best way to find a gem is to go to the place where you can mine one. Symposiums, lectures, and Ted Talks for starters are great places for building connections and finding the right candidate who fits your requirements.

Dont forget to look inside

Before you look outside, maybe you should look inside, and by that, we mean your very own firm. Your CTO may very well be working for you already. In-house candidates should be the first ones that you screen when you start the search for a CTO. Seek out this talent first. Identify those employees who are steady at their job and are doing great. They are making a difference in your company in a good way. They are your in-house problem solvers and have a questioning mind. Ask managers to identify such talent. Start a mentor program and opportunities for employees to challenge themselves and grow. Ensure that employees get due credit and reward for their efforts and collaborations.

Steps to start the process

Choose the unconventional route for your company. It could be an “incremental delivery change or a radical organizational change”. Create visibility for your firm at the right places. Talk about its growth story, where it’s currently at, and your vision for its future. This is what will eventually persuade the right talent to join your firm. Get the right advisors on board. Ensure a smooth recruitment process and do-away with glitches. Let this be your bible when it comes to recruiting an internet-era CTO who can take your company to the next level.