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7 Questions with Rohit Dhawan
7 Questions with Rohit Dhawan

Name: Rohit Dhawan

Current title: Chief Information Officer

Current organisation: Bank of Kigali Plc

Rohit Dhawan as Chief Information Officer at Bank of Kigali has been with the bank since 2019. In his role he has been spearheading the transformation of the Technology organization to become service oriented. The transformation journey focuses on balance operations and strategic changes, some small and some path breaking to enhance the value that the bank offers to its customers. The pillars of strategy are Simplification, Scalability, Resilience, Compliance, Data and Innovation.

He has been using technology and innovation, based on the knowledge of the banking industry, to engineer business optimisations. He has been able to create solutions and opportunities for complex and sensitive requirements. His ability to amalgamate the conventional wisdom from the traditional project management with agile practices has helped him accelerate and deliver critical successes varied in scale, value and complexity during his career.

He is an empathetic leader who likes to connect with people at grass root level. His people approach is focused on identifying, developing, coaching and promoting talent. His people management philosophy is to create and run energized teams in a professional, transparent and friendly atmosphere.

Rohit is an engineer by education, A Bachelor of Technology Degree in Computer Engineering from Kurukshetra University.

7 Questions with Rohit Dhawan

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader of a small or medium enterprise?

The significant challenge for SME's today is the environment changes due to COVID. For us as a bank, the change has expedited the digital adoption by customers, accelerating the consumption and adoption of our digital products. This is a good challenge and one that we as an enterprise want. The chase is to meet the demand curve, where innovation and technology co-join to service the needs.

As the CIO, the demand and impact on technology has raised unprecedented requirements on both the people and platforms. The key factors are resilience, capacity and performance. The technology is required to explore and implement newer technology faster and more efficiently. The challenge is maintaining the balance and ensuring delivery.

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

The bank is on a multi-year transformation journey. There was a need to hire for leadership role to lead the transformation role specifically in technology.

I was recommended by a headhunter for the role. The conversations and interviews presented the details of what the role entailed and challenges. There were multiple requirements ranging from delivery, talent development and strategy for the future which had accelerated growth.

A unique opportunity.

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

My days start early, I rise between 6 and 6:30 and my morning routine has a cup of Tea and News.

Office starts at 8 with a quick check of the upcoming agenda for the next few days and the various meetings that follow. I try and keep meetings to 45 minutes and try to manage a 15 minute gap between each meeting.

I plan at least 3 x 15 minute periods in a day to call or meet various members of the teams to check on them and have a short conversation. Lunches are usually dedicated for business teams and to socialise.

Office day ends at 6 and I head for sports. A 30 minute session of squash every alternate day, followed by early dinner and a relaxing walk to wind down.

Bedtime varies from 9:30 to 10:30 PM.

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

Trust.

Teams and Individuals if they trust the leadership, they will follow you to the moon. It is very important for the leaders to build and sustain the trust.

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?

Culture Map by Erin Meyer.

Every time we change our roles, location, team, the factor that impacts the interaction is sensitivity to the culture and habits. These are invisible boundaries that need to be addressed. They are more pronounced when the teams have to interact with vendors, team members and leadership from different cultures.

In technology while we may speak the right technical language due considerations need to be made for providing soft support to individuals to enhance engagement. This understanding allows one to better collaborate and a collaborative environment.

6. How do you build leadership capacity in an SME?

There are 3 tenets to building leadership. Identification, mentoring and coaching.

Instead of identifying one and mutiplanary approach should be adopted. Instead of starting with one, we start with a pool of young talent and the cyclic process of mentoring and coaching starts. The evaluation process is based on feedback from these cycles.

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

Starting a new practice within an SME with a long term return can often be an unsettling. Compounded by using young and raw talent to shape a strategy can be demanding.

We were able to develop and do this with slow but steady progress for Data Analysis practice. This has now developed into a demand strategy within the organisation and a pillar of the future.