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7 Questions with Phani Kishore Burre

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7 Questions with Phani Kishore Burre

Name: Phani Kishore Burre

Current title: SVP - Global Head of Infra Cloud Networks & Security Services

Current organisation: CSS Corp Pvt. Ltd

An accomplished IT Professional with over two decades of experience at Iconic global brands. Currently working as a Senior Vice President & Global Head - Infra, Cloud, Networks & Security Services with complete P & L responsibility.

My interests and expertise lie in creating cutting edge technology solutions and streamlining delivery to positively impact a company’s performance.

Retail, Automotive, Telecom, Banking and Insurance are major verticals where I have acquired valuable domain expertise.

In my various roles I’ve helped Architect IT systems, managed service delivery and developed future roadmaps as a part of Steering Group Committees.

As the Head of Service in Tesco, I was responsible for managing IT systems and service delivery of all their global stores generating a revenue of 70 Billion GBP in sales.

Something I am proud of is being part of a team of Architects who developed applications for the Reserve Bank of India such as SFMS which is now the backbone for NEFT & RTGS used by millions of people today.

As a certified Scrum Master, I have hands-on experience in Agile development. Interpersonal skills have played a big role in my ability to build and stabilize large project teams.

I love meeting people and discussing everything from AI/ML to the latest flick that has hit the screens. Hit me up @ bphanik@gmail.com we could talk over a cup of coffee or a bowl of Biryani.

7 Questions with Phani Kishore Burre

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1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?

Covid times! The last year was a defining moment for all leaders and organisations operating worldwide. The onset of the pandemic had a far-reaching impact, disrupting all aspects of life, including when, where and how to work. ‘Working from Home’ wasn’t an option, it was a necessity that was thrust upon. Entire workforce was forced to this model overnight. Businesses were unprepared for the 100 percent workforce operating remotely.

Like most of the organisations, having the entire workforce operating remotely was challenging. In these trying times, we implemented new strategies, introduced different programs, embraced extra communication, and offered empathy throughout the transition process. Also, deployed several measures leveraging our infrastructural capabilities and support frameworks. On top of this, our Risk Management and Business Continuity Plans (BCP) enabled us to be among the early movers in the industry to transition to a 100% work-from-home model.

2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?

Being Techno Functional and People’s leader helped me to move forward in my professional journey. I believe in creating an organized, transparent, and flexible management model.

The journey of becoming the core part of CSS Corp management team is unforgettable. I was associated with CSS Corp almost 7 years back. Since then, I have contributed to various areas of development. I drive large scale IT and Network transformation programs for enterprises, especially in Retail, Consumer Product Goods (CPG), high-tech, telecom and banking and financial services (BFSI). Currently, I head Cloud, Infrastructure and Security Services. I specialize in helping CIO's drive down TCO with new age service desks that leverage the power of automation and analytics to drive down cost and improve efficiency. A few key tasks that I handle include managing the P&L for the business unit and key customer relationships.

Prior to this, I was responsible for managing P&L, end to end applications, cloud migrations, remote infrastructure management and service delivery across Retail & FMCG domains. Architected, designed and headed the development of Cloud Readiness Assessment Framework for Transformation (CRAFT) tool. Driving automation as a key initiative across the company for all business units, creating pointed solutions for each BU with clear GTM strategy.

Through a consultative approach augmented by effective solution development, and delivery excellence, together with my team, I have been constantly delivering business value to organizations.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

It’s important to optimise workdays to maximize productivity and mental peace (health/happiness). I practically work round the clock as I manage teams that are quite diverse and spread across multiple global geographies.

My morning starts with working closely with the teams operating in India. I help architect IT systems, manage service delivery, develop and implement future roadmaps as a part of Steering Group Committees. The second half, usually after XX (time) in the noon, I start connecting with CXOs and the sales team in North America. Here, I support the team with key strategies and tools that help them to be productive and efficient in closing new deals.

Weekends are just for family! We are a family of four. On weekends, we mostly go for long drives, play interesting indoor games, and spend quality time with each other. I am a father of two boys, one is in fifth standard and the other one is preparing for his higher secondary exams. So, besides nurturing my team members, I am also preparing my kid to pass his board with flying colours.

4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?

I wouldn’t say learned rather applied. I believe in integrity, transparency and providing equal opportunities to all my team members based on their capabilities.

With over 22 years of experience in the IT industry, I see the whole structure of an organisation like a pyramid and the team is at the tip of the pyramid. With a team first, everything is possible! This is my mantra. So, I always focus on building and developing a team which can lead the business with utmost integrity and transparency. Also, I coach and mentor my team members to grab opportunities that help them in further growth of their careers.

At CSS Corp, we equip our teams with new technical skills, digital technologies, and operational tools to deliver exceptional customer experiences at every touchpoint and to represent the client’s brand in the best manner. The technological inventions will continue to revolutionize the business world, and we need to adapt to the constant changes and prepare ourselves to what comes around the corner. Thinking alongside our customers and understanding their business needs, we deliver and assure a better experience by offering innovative solutions to their business needs.

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?

I recently finished a book “Elephants and Cheetahs: The Beauty of Operations”. Don’t get confused with the usage of elephants and cheetahs in the title. The book is all about operations strategy and these are metaphors used by the author, Saral Mukherjee. The author brings aesthetics into a field obsessed with quantification. He appreciates operations systems and sees parallels in nature, which is interesting.

The book highlights the beauty inherent in business models taking operations perspective in mind. It underlines the hard trade-offs inherent in the design of operating systems and business models. The book taught me to uncover a beauty inherent in patterns of strategic choices.

6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?

Two mantras: Be Redundant and Create a Success plan. Both focus on assembling and managing a powerful team of highly effective, committed professionals to achieve great success with each passing year.

When I say, be redundant, it means focusing on building a team of leaders not followers. I always believe in supporting my team with all the necessary data (tools/tactics) and at the same time I prepare them to take responsibility. I believe in building a team that can take decisions as and when required.

Secondly, creating a succession plan. I have been following this approach all along. Always, identify high-potential talents and nurture them systematically for future leadership roles. For instance, if I have worked on any project in the past and next time, we get a similar project. Then, I will assure that it goes to the next best responsible person (resource). It’s like creating layers of talents as we move forward.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?

In today’s dynamic business environment, customers look for a seamless service experience. Ensuring “Customer Centricity” through innovation is a crucial barometer on which we measure our success.

Being part of the IT industry for over 22 years, I understand the importance of services aligned with ever evolving customer needs. Effective management of customer satisfaction levels is a complex task but is a must to ensure that there is no gap between customer expectations and service. To add to this, I remember, five and a half years back, I introduced a working culture that helped in bridging the gap between service delivery and customer expectation (experience). The model that is focused on providing high quality of service to customers and working relentlessly to maintain the quality. At CSS Corp, we identify gaps, if any, and work untiringly towards closing this gap to ensure continued improvement in our offerings and services. This approach helped us to bring in CSAT of 3.4 to 4.5, which is a feather in our hat.

Our passionate focus on pragmatic innovation and service delivery excellence has helped us foster meaningful engagements with our customers and deliver critical business outcomes.