Debjani Ghosh, President, NASSCOM, plotted her career well. Ever since she was a young marketing executive at Intel, Ghosh wanted to head the company's India operations. Every career decision she took thereafter was taken with this goal in mind. In 2012, she returned from abroad to head Intel South Asia.
In five years, she was looking out for the next challenging assignment, the next big platform. She quit Intel and became an angel investor before joining Nasscom in April 2018. The Indian IT industry's powerful body is one platform from where she can influence policies and the direction the industry is taking.
Nasscom, however, is now a complicated animal. Even a decade back, it was largely a big boys' club. Now, it has a diversified member profile - start-ups, SMEs, product companies, services companies, BPO companies; and of course both multinationals and Indian companies. Staying relevant to all of them is a tough ask. To top this, the technology industry is in the middle of a transformation with exponential technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain gaining ground. The IT services industry is transforming from outsourcing to being more value-added partners; start-ups are transforming from incremental solutions to being more innovative problem solvers; multinationals are shifting more R&D work to India.
Ghosh, therefore, brackets, her priorities into three.
"I want Nasscom to be seen as a catalyst that accelerates this transformation. The first thing is to revamp the innovation culture in India," she says. "Innovation, today, is about co-creation. It is about 'technology meets art' and domain expertise. How do you create that mindset? That was the problem we said we would solve." Ghosh's second priority is to build the skills and capabilities required for Industry 4.0. "As a country we focus on job losses but there are new jobs getting created and we don't have the skills for it. It is now about working with the government and the industry to get people re-skilled," she says. Nasscom and the industry wants to train two million people over the next four years on future jobs.
Her third agenda is to open up new markets for Indian IT, beyond North America and Europe. Of course, the industry body has to handle protectionist rhetoric from across the globe.