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7 Questions on Leadership with Deepak Gupta

Name: Deepak Gupta

Title: Global head of technology and architecture

Organisation: Airtel International

As a forward-thinking Global Head of Technology & Architecture, with a passion for harnessing technology to drive business growth and innovation, I have dedicated my career to navigating the dynamic landscape of the digital world.

With over 22 years of experience at the intersection of technology and business, I bring a proven track record of shaping technical strategy, leading cross-functional teams, and delivering results that elevate organizations to new heights.

I lead teams that build large scale engineering platforms, highly scalable and flexible websites/apps/products that enable intelligent information and functionality to end users. I am passionate about delighting customers with innovations and rapid product development.

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Deepak's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

As a leader, one of the most challenging aspects I've encountered is balancing the needs and expectations of various stakeholders, both internal and external. This includes understanding and aligning the interests of executive leadership, senior management, customers, and team members. Finding the right equilibrium between these often competing interests while staying true to the organization's mission and values can be a complex and ongoing challenge.

Additionally, navigating through rapid technological advancements, market disruptions, and global economic changes can pose significant challenges. It requires staying adaptable, fostering innovation, and ensuring that the team remains motivated and resilient in the face of uncertainty.

Furthermore, building and maintaining a high-performing team is another constant challenge. It involves selecting the right talent, nurturing their growth, and effectively managing interpersonal dynamics. It's crucial to create an environment where individuals can thrive and collaborate towards common goals.

Overall, leadership often means dealing with ambiguity, making tough decisions, and continually evolving to meet the ever-changing demands of the business landscape.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

My journey into leadership has been deeply rooted in my lifelong passion for technology and innovation.

From the outset, I've been captivated by the realms of AI, big data, microservices, cloud computing, and the ever-evolving tech landscape. My fascination with these domains led me to pursue educational and experiential avenues, acquiring a strong foundation in these cutting-edge fields.I've always been drawn to the intricacies of complex system design and enterprise architecture, relishing the opportunity to solve intricate business problems with innovative, out-of-the-box solutions. Through early career experiences, I honed my skills and gained valuable insights, which propelled me into leadership roles. I've always been driven to effectively communicate complex technological concepts and inspire teams to embark on transformative journeys. Along the way, I've actively nurtured a professional network, seeking mentorship and learning from industry experts who've shaped my path. My commitment to taking initiative, pursuing innovation, and cultivating a track record of successful projects has been at the core of my leadership journey.

Along the way, I've had the privilege of building and nurturing high-performance teams, believing that collaboration and shared vision are the bedrock of success. For me, technology isn't just a tool; it's a catalyst for positive change. It's about more than just staying current with trends; it's about strategically harnessing technology to surmount intricate challenges, boost operational efficiency, and pioneer game-changing products and services. My unwavering vision is to guide organizations through this transformative technological landscape, making them agile, competitive, and future-ready, and ultimately driving them towards a brighter, tech-enabled future.

I'm a member of Forbes technology council as well

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

In structuring my day, I prioritize a comprehensive approach that balances my leadership role as the Global Head of Technology and Architecture at Airtel International. My day typically begins with an early rise, followed by a brief workout or meditation to prepare both mentally and physically. During breakfast, I review my schedule and prepare for the day's responsibilities.

The core of my workday revolves around leadership discussions, solution review and building strategy

I chair the Architecture Review Board and product design boards to design highly scalable, resilient, secured, cost-effective well-architected ecosystems. Moreover, my role as a leader extends beyond technology, as I collaborate closely with C-level executives to align technology priorities with broader business objectives, ensuring seamless decision-making processes.

I lead high performance teams of senior leaders with my technical proficiency which spans cloud computing, resilient microservices architecture, distributed systems, enterprise architecture, mobile app development, and much more, enabling me to make informed decisions and guide teams effectively.

Furthermore, I am an innovation catalyst, fostering a culture of innovation by encouraging out-of-the-box thinking and championing new ideas that push boundaries.

After office hours, or during weekends, I follow my passion for mentoring and empowering startups, helping them navigate the challenges of technology, product development, and growth. I've had the privilege of guiding numerous startups on their journey to success.

Team empowerment is another cornerstone of my leadership philosophy. I understand the power of a motivated and skilled team. I'm dedicated to nurturing talent, fostering collaboration, and creating an environment where excellence thrives.

Evenings are busy with work mostly but as I get time, I like to spend with my family, fostering bonds and creating cherished memories with my wife and sons, Aarav and Aadit. This dedicated family time allows me to recharge and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Weekends are a valuable opportunity to unwind, engage in outdoor activities, and spend quality time with my family, ensuring that I'm prepared for the challenges and joys of the upcoming workweek. This structured routine enables me to excel as a leader while also nurturing my personal life and well-being.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

The latest leadership lesson that I've been reminded of is the importance of adaptability in a rapidly changing world. The pace of change in technology, markets, and global dynamics is accelerating. As a leader, I've learned that being open to new ideas, continuously learning, and embracing change is essential to remain effective. It's not just about having a vision and strategy but also the flexibility to adjust and pivot when needed. This lesson serves as a reminder that the ability to adapt and lead through change is a critical skill in today's dynamic business landscape.

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?

The one book that has had a profound impact on my leadership journey thus far is "Leaders Eat Last" by Simon Sinek. This book fundamentally reshaped my perspective on leadership by emphasizing the importance of prioritizing the well-being and success of one's team above all else.

Sinek's insights into the role of trust, empathy, and the creation of a "Circle of Safety" within organizations left an indelible mark on me. It underscored the idea that a leader's primary responsibility is to support and protect their team members, fostering a culture of collaboration and shared purpose.

This book's impact on my leadership style is evident in my commitment to building strong, cohesive teams, where individuals feel valued, safe, and inspired to contribute their best. It reinforced the belief that by putting people first, leaders can create environments where innovation, loyalty, and excellence thrive. "Leaders Eat Last" continues to guide my leadership philosophy and influence my approach to leading and empowering teams.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

If I could offer one piece of advice to young leaders, it would be to cultivate a growth mindset. Embrace challenges, failures, and opportunities for learning as stepping stones to your development. Understand that leadership is a journey of continuous growth, and by remaining open to new experiences and learning from both successes and setbacks, you'll not only become a more resilient and effective leader but also inspire those around you to do the same.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

Our commitment to innovation extended to the development of cutting-edge solutions, including machine learning-based products like face recognition, comprehensive customer 360-degree views, transaction 360-degree analytics, customer credit scoring engines, and churn prediction models. These innovations not only enhanced customer experiences but also positioned us as industry leaders in leveraging the power of AI and data analytics.

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