A man of many talents
He is a man of diverse tastes. From being a fan of all kinds
of music to being an enthusiastic Net user to enjoying theatrical performances,
Manoj Chandiramani, the VP of IT at Man Financial, reveals his inner
self to Rishiraj Verma.
With the kind of pressure that heading the IT department of
a finance company may put on an individual, a broad, cheerful smile comes as
a pleasant surprise from Manoj Chandiramani. The smile continues even as he
talks about a most serious accident he has had. This is what makes the man stand
out from the crowd.
The Moulding years
The years of study are when youre supposed to study
a lot, play a little, and get very good marks. And after school, college must
start and a good job must follow suit.
Chandiramani finished his schooling from Indian Education
Societys New English School in Mumbai. He says that school days were the
time when he had a lot of fun and learned at the same time. It wasnt
one of your high-profile schools, but definitely had a good mix of academics
and co-curricular activities.
Technology, it seems, has always interested the man. Thats
why he went on to get a diploma and then a degree in computer technology engineering
from Mumbai University. He says that he has also done a few certificate courses
in the same stream.
What followed was another face-to-face interaction with the
IT world, in a smaller environment though. He started studying at Aptech, the
computer training institute, and that was where he set foot on the path that
led him to where he is today.
The First Step
and the next few
Chandiramani started small, has learned much, and has moved
His first job was at Aptech itself. I was studying
at the Santacruz (in Mumbai) branch when I noticed a board which said that they
required part-time trainers. He applied for the job and got it. He says
that his part-time job here included training people who were senior to him.
They were all like uncles and aunties, and it was funny when I had to
teach them how to start and shut down a computer. This job, he says, was
like a whole entertainment package. My shift was from six to nine, after
which a few of the trainers would sit down with coffee and music and have loads
Later, in the same year, he worked on a few back-end projects
with them. He then went to Middle East and worked on a few IT projects for a
period of about two years with various organisations. He came back to India
in the 2000. A two-month break followed, after which he joined Man Financial
India, then known as Refco India. Ive been working in this company
since June 2000, says Chandiramani with a look of satisfaction on his
Climbing Everest and placing a flag
A mans devotion to his work can be seen when he names
an area of work even when asked about personal achievements. Chandiramani is
one of this committed and devoted clan. Says he, Professionally, the biggest
achievement for me is being where I am today. He says that his stint with
Man Financial has been a long and enjoyable one. He then emphasises that he
has not been alone in this journey. A lot of people have helped me get
here, and I am thankful to them.
His personal achievements are linked to the IT world as well.
Exclaims Chandiramani, Being the youngest in the CTO/CIO segment was the
biggest personal achievement Ive had during my recent visit to Sri Lanka
for a tech summit.
He says that he is happy with whatever he has done so far
in his life, because it was done with his own efforts and the help of people
close to him.
The way IT is moving today I think I always want to be young so I never
have to retire.
- Favourite film?
Among the recent films, Iqbal by Nagesh Kukunoor.
- Favourite book and author?
I'm not really a voracious reader, but I do read some technology books.
I haven't read one in a long time now.
- Favourite colours?
Blue and White.
- Wish the most in life?
I wish for the same thing that the whole world wishes about. I want
to see myself where people will always remember me.
- Miss the most in life?
Right now I miss spending time with my family the most. Work can get
really pressurising sometimes, but I still love what I do.
- Love the most about self?
If I trust someone, I end up being loyal to them right till the end.
This is one thing I really like about myself.
- Hate most about self?
It's got to be my anger. I hate it when I get angry.
- Idea of a great vacation?
I'd like to be in some place where I can be in touch with nature. I'd
like to be there in the cold winter when I can feel the breeze. I'd
love any place where you can actually feel the clouds.
- Do you know of a place like that?
In India itself there is Jammu & Kashmir. I was there in 1987 and
I remember the place vividly. The clouds actually coming into our hill-facing
room was an amazing feeling. But now all I hear about the place is bomb
blasts and terrorism. It makes me sad to know that the place is finished
- Specific interests?
I like writing. I haven't written much, but I like to write down whatever
comes to my mind in my free time. I also love driving. The accident
however has put the fear of two-wheelers in my head. But driving cars
is another thing altogether. I have a far-away dream too. That of owning
a Lexus. But as I said, it's far, far away.
- Message to fellow IT heads?
There is a lot that we can still do for this industry. Being Indians,
if we put our heads together, we can do a lot, not just for ourselves,
but for the world.
Getting to work
The VP-IT of Man Financial says that there is absolutely
no way he can pinpoint a favourite IT project from the many he has undertaken.
Everything has been my favourite.
According to him, every project he has undertaken has come
as a challenge. This has made him think of his entire stint with the financial
firm as a challenging project. Summing up his work in just one sentence Chandiramani
says, Im a Garfield in my own field.
||Father retired Superintendent Engineer
Mother working in the Income Tax department.
Son keeps jumping around all over the place.
Younger brother working with Intelenet-Barclays.
Sister-in-law working with Polaris Software.
||The ability to address an audience
whenever a microphone is handed to him.
Getting off work
Says he, Music is the one thing I really like.
He says that he likes listening to any kind of chilled out music.
But ghazals and instrumentals top his list of favourites, and he is a Kenny
G fan. Tiranga was one of his favourite jugalbandi live shows where the maestros
of Indian classical music came together on a single platform.
Adding to his list of likes he says that he is also a big
fan of the Internet. I surf the Web regularly, but I dont have a
favourite Web site or anything.
Thats not all he does in his spare time. I love
watching theatre performances. He says that he had been a theatre person
back in college, and wouldnt mind going back to the old days. So when
was the last time he enjoyed something similar? A few days back, at my
cousins wedding. We enacted a scene of them meeting for the first time.
It was a whole lot of fun.
I like singing as well, comes another revelation
before we move on to the next question. And its not just bathrooms that
he sings in. You give me a microphone and I can start singing. He
adds that he does not suffer from stage fright, and this is what makes him a
good compere too.
The league he follows
There is a huge list of mentors who he looks up to. The list
starts with his parents. My father and mother have always been there for
me, says Chandiramani as he talks about the values that his parents have
given him. According to him, it is these values which have made him what he
After his family, he says that his two close friends, Sunil
Gujral and Rajiv Garela, have always watched his back for him. In spite of being
in one of the most coveted positions in the IT world, he doesnt seem to
have forgotten the days when his teachers influenced him. Prof Narkar
and Prof Amit Abhyankar from my college days will always remain my ideals. They
have greatly influenced me. He also adds his erstwhile teacher at Aptech,
Sagar Sule, to his list of mentors.
Explaining his beliefs, he says that hope is the one thing
the world lives on. Nothing is impossible is the school of thought
he follows everyday.
Chandiramani says he isnt a superstitious man. However,
even when his elders say something which sounds superstitious he is inclined
to agree with them.
Learn, learn, learn
We ask the man from Man Financial to rate himself on a scale
from 1 to 10. And what does he reply? Im below one. On being
asked about his modesty he says that the IT world is a huge space and that he
needs to learn a lot more before he can even rate himself at one.
He recalls that the one moment where he felt really happy
about himself was when the Man Financial MD called him and said, Youll
be now designated as the Assistant VP of the IT team. Chandiramani says
that this was the moment that shaped his life and told him where he was going
A Bad Memory
To see how long a cheerful smile could last on the mans
face, we ask him about the one bad memory he has. Without much thinking, he
starts talking about the motorcycle accident he had in 2002.
He was on his bike when the accident occurred. The
impact was so nasty that my helmet was shattered into five pieces, he
remembers. The next day I received the money for the bike which had been
sold off by my parents. The brush with death changed him. That was
a second life I was gifted.
Just for the record, the smile never disappeared.