Vispi Palsetia started his career as a Business Process Outsourcing Agent. Today he leads a much broader portfolio as CIO of Teleperformance India and Middle East, part of a global business operations services company with 420,000 employees.
Having spent 23 years in the BPO industry, Palsetia has witnessed the evolution of the sector before his eyes. For someone who swears by the adage “never give up”, Palsetia counts rapidly creating a work environment for thousands of employees during the pandemic as the pinnacle of his career.
In an interview with CIO India, Palsetia talks about IT leadership, business technology alignment and building the right culture in an organization, among other things.
CIO India: Please explain your career path. What was your biggest career success?
Palsetia: I started my career in the outsourcing industry long ago when BPOs came to India. I have now been working in this industry for almost 23 years. It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come and how much we’ve evolved. It has been an exciting and challenging journey.
Personally, the greatest achievement has undoubtedly been the way we managed the pandemic. From not being able to run a single workplace from home to operationalizing over 30,000 workplaces within a month while ensuring all relevant compliance requirements were met was an amazing achievement that we achieved together as a team have mastered.
CIO India: Looking back, what would you have done differently?
Palsetia: I would have focused more on information security. We weren’t sure how working from home would pan out. Eventually we got it done using strong infosec tools and technology, but it took a lot more effort than if we had focused on it from the start.
CIO India: How are you preparing the next level of leadership for the CIO role?
Palsetia: As CIO, I realized that we are only as strong as our teams. An important task for me was therefore to get the team to expand its sphere of activity. Next-generation leaders need to understand business and update their technology skills to move up a company’s value chain.
CIO India: How do you ensure IT business alignment?
Palsetia: This is not as difficult as it sounds. As a CIO, you need to conduct regular reviews and keep in touch with your leaders. Understand her vision for the company where she wants it to be in the next three to five years and align your IT strategy to align with larger business goals.
CIO India: Has it become easier or more difficult for the CIO to get a seat at the board table in recent years? How do you equip yourself for this?
Palsetia: A CIO must ensure that the IT workplace counts. When the technology aligns with the organization’s overall goal and helps the organization grow to the next level, it will be easy for a CIO to get the seat.
CIO India: How do you build motivation and the right culture in the IT department?
Palsetia: The mantra is to walk the talk. I believe people imitate their leaders. It pays to be open with your team and your company. To drive talent fungibility, it’s also important to upskill and reskill teams and push them into new roles every few years.
CIO India: What was the most difficult decision you had to make in your IT career?
Palsetia: I would cite standing by my organization’s values, principles and compliance to a very large client as one of my most difficult decisions.
CIO India: What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
Palsetia: Someone once told me that I am just as successful as my team. If someone on my team isn’t aligned with the end goal, I won’t succeed.
CIO India: What myths about technology and the role of the CIO would you like to debunk?
Palsetia: The biggest myth is that IT is a cost center. I firmly believe that a CIO can and should play an important role in increasing the company’s revenues.
CIO India: What roles or skills do you think are (or likely to be) the most difficult to fill?
Palsetia: The industry has changed over the years. Technology is no longer just an enabler for our customers. It must also deliver value. For technology to be perceived as a business differentiator, we need to build cloud, analytics and data science capabilities.
CIO India: If you weren’t a CIO, what would you be?
Palsetia: I would work with or lead a racing team (two wheels or four wheels). Currently my favorite bike is the Kawasaki Ninja 1000. Of the many places I have explored by motorbike in India, my trip to Ladakh was the most adventurous. The journey taught me that you can have fun in the most challenging of situations if you love what you do and I experienced that in Ladakh. The oxygen levels were low, the weather was cold and there were almost no roads, but it still turned out to be a great experience.
CIO India: How does your personal life influence your professional life?
Palsetia: I have been married for 16 years and have two children, an older daughter and a younger son. Being a spouse and parent has been an interesting journey and you can draw so many parallels to being an employee. On both fronts, you must remain agile, learn, unlearn, and relearn as you grow and enter different phases.
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