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7 Questions with Biren Parekh
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7 Questions with Biren Parekh
Name: Biren Parekh
Current title: Vice President
Current organisation: Intellect Design Arena
I work as VP and Delivery Head in the transaction banking line of business for Intellect Design Arena. I have rich global experience in managing complex digital transformation and implementation programs for BFSI Products in retail and corporate banks in multi-cultural environments.
I practice Waterfall and Agile methodology and have proven domain expertise in corporate banking and retail banking-related IT systems. I am a passionate project manager who strongly advocates project management through articles and speeches. I am also a VP - Membership, part of the PMI Mumbai chapter.
I mentor professionals, new joiners as well as start-ups. I am also on an advisory board as well as an angel investor.
With multiple global certifications (PMP, ACP, DASSM, PRINCE2, ITIL V3, PSM1, CSM), I am a guest speaker at the PMI Mumbai chapter, Agile/Project management conferences, and prominent B-schools/colleges.
On a personal front, I am a fitness enthusiast and marathoner. I invest in equity; enjoy reading and love food and traveling. I regularly publish blogs on interesting topics on my website, birenparekh.com. Few of my articles have been published in various magazines and PMI journals. You can reach me at
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
The most challenging part of being an executive of an enterprise is to stick to the decided course while starting your journey. With changing priorities and a plethora of challenges (like attrition, ambiguity, infrastructure, technology, etc), it is extremely difficult to precisely stick to the guidance given and deliver as committed.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
My journey started as a Trainee programmer in the MIS department of Tata Chemicals Ltd remote village of Gujarat (India).
After moving to Mumbai to join a Citi group company called CITIL, I began to understand the nuances of the corporate world. After years of enriching global traveling for projects, I became a fundamental milestone in my developing the leadership mindset.
With passion and being at the right place at the right time, along with some right decisions, I have reached the current position. Becoming a leader is not an overnight miracle. It happens with years of hard work and dedication. They say that you only see the tip of the iceberg but do not see the years of effort, dedication, and passion that have gone into building the same.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
Normally, my day starts by going through the calendar so that I am mentally ready for the client and team meetings. I prefer to complete the required groundwork well in advance, like prior to a day or a week sometimes.
Next, I check emails and connect with the leaders for action and closure.
Except for escalated issues, my highly motivated team saves me from micromanagement. I keep an eye to ensure Watermelon status reporting or Green shifting does not happen during project execution, which can ultimately lead to fire-fighting at the eleventh hour.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Following are few significant leadership lessons I have learned
- Take care of people, and they will take care of you
- Honesty, Integrity, and transparency are non-negotiable traits
- Communicate at all levels. Don’t underestimate the power of communication.
- Delegate responsibilities but closely monitor
- Plan but be prepared for the eventuality
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
It will be unfair to attribute my leadership skills to any single book or a person.
Several books had varying impacts on the various aspects of my life. Early on, "7 Habits Of Effective People" created a good impression. Later, "Good To Great", "Rich Dad Poor Dad" and "Built To Last" had a significant influence.
PMP certification also became instrumental in adding a significant professional touch to my leadership skills and career.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
Leaders aren't born, they are created. You don’t need a title to be a leader.
Eisenhower has said that Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want to be done because he wants to do it. In an organization, the only way to build leadership is by empowering the people.
We call it SHIFT LEFT and SHIFT DOWN.
By giving subordinates responsibility of their managers, the juniors will become more accountable and responsible. During this journey, continuous mentoring and coaching are inevitable. Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; it is about how are you unlocking the people’s potential to become a better version of them.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
A good leader is a person who takes a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit. —John Maxwell. This is my motto of building leadership.
I was extremely delighted when one of the projects executed by my team received an international award - IBSI Innovation Awards 2020 - out of 220 submissions across 52 countries. That was a true acknowledgment of our delivery competencies. The IBSI Innovation Awards 2020 identifies and honors technology players and banks for their excellence in driving impact through banking technology implementations and innovations using emerging technologies.
Similarly, there are few other stories that are close to my heart whereby we achieved multiple zero-defect deliveries to Japanese and Australian banks and flawless migration to the upgraded version which earned accolades & additional business from the customer.