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Issue of March 2004 

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Keeping 'stock' of business

Managing the largest stock exchange in India is no mean feat. Satish Naralkar, Managing Director & CEO, NSE.IT Limited keeps stock of his organization with a keen eye on business and technology. by Minu Sirsalewala

Satish Naralkar Managing Director & CEO, NSE.IT Limited is among the few executives who have moved on the career path from being a CIO to a CEO. An engineer by profession, he loves sports (now loves to watch it), and believes in his professional motto, 'always a step ahead'.

Naralkar joined NSE as a technology officer in 1994 almost from its inception, and had been responsible for managing its large IT infrastructure and nationwide electronic trading facility including the world's largest private interactive VSAT network.

The IT approach

Talking about his days as a CIO at NSE, Naralkar mentioned that NSE is way ahead of other organizations in its approach towards IT. The CIO is at the top rung of the ladder and totally involved in all the executive decisions.

He recalls that due to the support of an operational officer who addressed the day-to-day working of the systems in his team, he could look beyond technology and focus on the business of the organization. "Delegating to your managers is an important aspect if you want to have the time to play the role of the strategist," he says.

He opines that the CIO is the person who is bridging the gap between technology and business. He adds value to business decisions by prescribing IT solutions in support of the business, so he has to participate in business strategies.

Two caps

He has been wearing two caps—one of a technologist and the other of a strategist-for a long time. The issue with most organizations is that they do not use IT optimally or bring it to the forefront. But today with increased interaction between company executives at various forums like the CSI and Technology Senate, these issues have been addressed and discussed, thereby giving it its due importance.

The walk up

Naralkar's walk from being a CIO to a CEO was not smooth and easy. There were several challenges he faced—from getting an efficient team in place to convincing the external world about the credibility of their products and services. He mentions that it was not difficult to convince customers from an advisory role as he had the advantage of having the label of being the CIO of a company (NSE) with a proven IT track.

The major challenge was to take an IT company which was initially just an IT department to a profitable level of providing services externally.

Today with NSE.IT reporting an annual growth rate of 20-30 percent, Naralkar had to walk a tightrope to be where it is. He explains that there was a high risk of the parent company feeling neglected and not being serviced optimally as they were also catering to external customers who were the real revenue providers.

But a contended Naralkar expressed that these are all learnings and if CIO delegates optimally, is self-driven, and takes initiatives and time to understand the business the transition will be effective and efficient.

Minu Sirsalewala can be reached at:

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