The God-fearing CTO
At 41, Ketan Parekh heads the IT team at Sharekhan,
and also manages to set aside an hour every day to chat with his wife. Rishiraj
Verma brings out the man behind the CTO who also spends time praying to
God every single day.
expect to meet a laptop-wielding formally-attired geek greeting you from behind
a sleek desk. The laptop is there, but minus all the frills, stands a man greeting
you humbly with a handshake and a smile.
Youd normally expect a Chief Technology Officer to
be a graduate from a technology school. But then, there are exceptions and Parekh
is one. After finishing schooling at Little Angels High School, Mumbai in 1980,
where Maths was his favourite subject, Parekh went on to study financial
accounting at SIES College, Mumbai. He graduated in 1985. After finishing
education, Parekh had a lot of options; one of which was to join his fathers
gold and silver business. But he did not consider himself fit for his fathers
business because of his educational background and also for the fact that the
organisation was too small. Thereafter, Parekh went on to study
technology. In 1997, he studied ERP and its implementations at Oracle Corporation
and in 2000 he did an e-business course (distant learning) from Cambridge Technology
The first job
Meanwhile, in 1990 Parekh crossed the first job
milestone. He started working with a financial services firm then known as Money
Care. Its now called Saurashtra Capital Services, he reminisces.
Parekh was happy to get a job in the field that he had studied in. After seven
years with the firm, he had gained knowledge not just about the business, but
also about the processes pertaining to the firm.
And it was at Money Care itself that Parekh had
his first brush with IT. He had a lot of options at this company and he chose
to work on user implementation, which led him on to IT.
That was also the time when he developed interest in ERP.
In 1997, there was an ERP wave. That was something I thought I wanted
to do and that got me kicking. Soon Parekh got an offer from a US company
for the post of an ERP consultant. He was happy to go for it. But when
you go out, you find that India is much better. He also missed his family
a lot and that is why he came back.
CTP then offered him to take care of programme management
for BSE Webex, which he took up as a challenge. At Money Care it was all
about the end-user perspective and now it was going to change. Hence,
he had to be a part of it. He indeed proved a point by scoring well in the project
In 1999, he travelled to Mauritius for an Air Mauritius ERP
implementation. He returned in 2000. Two years later when Novell acquired CTP
and the Indian operations were split into Bangalore and Mumbai-Delhi, Parekh
was with Novell Mumbai for around 10 months where he got numerous awards for
Sharekhan beckoned him in 2003 and he has been there since
then. After the BSE project, I find this the most challenging, says
the CTO about his current job. He reasons this out by saying that earlier he
had been on the end-users side and the consulting side but now attempting
to understand the business users side in detail. Youve to
keep accepting challenges and if I decide to do something, its done,
Today and tomorrow
I am multi-tasking at work right now, says Parekh
as he explains how he is working on a business model for collaboration with
banks. He also talks of the BCP and DR projects that he has been working on.
He adds that the most important thing he is doing right now is focussing on
cost reduction for Sharekhan.
He doesnt have any fixed plans for the future, but
says, I would like to ensure that my business value is of help to any
organisation I work for.
The CTO says that his abilities of being able to learn fast
and accept challenges of all kinds have helped him in his professional life.
Ask him about personal achievements and he says, I
value relationships. He adds that he always learns from life.
|Birthdate: January 15, 1965
|Place of birth: Mumbai
|Family: Father - gold and silver business,
mother - homemaker, wife - homemaker, one daughter
|Idea of a great vacation: Chilling out at
a place where I can eat, sleep, watch TV, talk to my wife and daughter and
go to the gym
|Likes: I like my job very much. I've got all
things in place, my family, my work and my passions
|Dislikes: When a person doesn't own up to
his responsibilities, I get angry. Earlier, there were lots of dislikes,
but time has calmed me down
The pressure in an IT job is high especially for the team-leader.
Parekh believes in chilling out to bust the stress. In leisure,
he loves to sleep, be with his family and watch TV all day long. When
Im not at work, I basically like to do nothing. Here he pauses for
a moment, thinks and corrects himself. I also listen to what my wife has
to say. Being a husband, thats the only option you see, and bursts
The CTO likes to spare at least an hour each for his wife
and daughter every day.
In the name of his father
Parekh insists that his father was his biggest mentor. I
seem to have inherited his business and negotiation skills. He puts his
wife next on the list for all the support that she has given him. She
has stayed up long nights waiting for me to come back from work. The number
three and four spots are occupied by his father-in-law and current boss respectively.
Ask him about his beliefs and he replies. Im
a God-fearing guy and that is one belief I have held all my life. He adds
that there is a DVD continually playing bhajans at his home and office. Parekh
says that he is religious and just like he finds time for his wife and daughter
every day, he also finds time to pray to God. Till recently, I used to
walk from Sion (where he stays) to Siddhivinayak temple.
About superstitions, he has a monosyllabic negative answer.
According to Parekh, the biggest turnaround moment in his
life was when he got married. This, he says, made him realise his responsibilities.
Much to learn
When asked to rate himself as a CTO on a 1 to 10 scale, Parekh
came up with one after a few moments of thought. There is
a lot left to learn and anything above one would be an exaggeration. While
he may rate himself the lowest on the CTO scale, he definitely ranks highest
on the modesty scale.
Parekh says that he is not thinking of retirement as of now
because there is a lot to learn. Ive only rated myself one today
and I need to go to the level where I can rate myself 10. So, we shouldnt
be expecting this God-fearing CTO to call it a day anytime soon.
CTO knows what he wants; be it his work or any other aspect of his life
- Music: Bhajans devoted to Lord Shiva
and slow, old music
- Film: My likes have changed over time. Earlier I was a Jackie
Chan movie buff, but I dont watch movies any more
- Book: Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson. Currently reading
The World is Flat by Thomas L Friedman
- Wish the most in life: There are many wishes. I need to be
a better human being. I want to help people grow so that they can help
me grow in turn. Id also like to lose a little weight
- Miss the most in life: Nothing. Im happy with what Im
- Most memorable holiday: In Mauritius. We were working for
14 to 18 hours a day for nine months. My wife came down and I managed
to go home early everyday. Those four days were the best holidays. Ive
been to chaar-dhaam, which are among the four key religious places in
India, and this journey made me notice the real beauty of India
- Colour I like: Blue
- Favourite spot in India: Siddhivinayak temple
- Message to fellow IT heads: Today, the world is about mapping
business with technology. Technology is not a business driver, its
an enabler. So focus on letting business drive technology and not the
other way round.