‘Passion, compassion and being brave will lead you to CIO’

Date: 12 August 2018

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Amar Singh, CEO and co-founder of Cyber Management Alliance, had the pleasure of interviewing Sanjay Khanna, CIO at Rakbank in Dubai, as part of their informative Interview with Cyber Leaders series. Amar talked to Sanjay about a variety of topics, asking key questions about interview criteria, why it’s important to be prepared to take risks and step outside your comfort zone, and what excites him about the next 5 years.


My journey to CIO

Sanjay’s journey to CIO has been exciting for him. Yes, he’s been brave enough to take certain risks and the choices he has made have luckily turned out right for Sanjay.

To anyone looking to fulfil the ambition of CIO, the key advice Sanjay would give is to be passionate, follow your heart and you will succeed.

“Not all decisions should come from your brain because if you’re heart says that is the right decision, then go ahead and take it. When you later look back, you will find that the decision you chose, although hard, will always have been the right decision…”

What are my interview criteria?

For Sanjay, as well as being passionate about what you do, he looks for compassion and the human qualities in a person. Yes, there is a technical aspect to consider but it is also important that any candidate has the right human qualities for a team – passion, compassion and demonstrating the readiness to take responsibility. Skills can always be learnt; the human qualities are in-built, a part of you, and that’s what carries you through your career.

There’s no official guide book to become a CIO, but here are some tips…

Start from a basis of deciding what you’re passionate about, says Sanjay. Many people tend to stick to one thing and keep on doing it but that, in Sanjay’s opinion, won’t necessarily land you the CIO role. Be ready to take the risks that are associated with moving into the threat areas, and learning about the threat areas. Make yourself adaptable and an all-rounder.

Be prepared to step outside your comfort zone and learn to be an all-rounder – any CIO, from Sanjay’s point of view, has to be an all-rounder. A CIO doesn’t have the luxury of being able to focus on just one area. He will have to be able to handle not only the team for project delivery, but also the team covers the operations part of the project. Any potential CIO has to be willing to take the risk and then put passion into their learning.

The next 5 years – oh so exciting!

Technological innovation; that’s what excites Sanjay about the next 6 years, but not in the realms of mobile or the Internet of Things. These areas have more or less come to maturity and are no longer as exciting an area as they used to be. The next field to take the industry by storm is Artificial Intelligence (AI); that is where the future lies.

AI both excites and worries Sanjay. There are two sides to the risk of AI and if done correctly, could be of huge benefit to humans. That said, if it is abused the outcome may not be quite so good. How humans adapt to AI will be interesting over the coming years.

Hear more valuable insights from Sanjay Khanna, CIO at Rakbank and view our exclusive Insights With Cyber Leaders interview.

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