Computerworld: What attracted you to a career in the IT industry?
Suresh Padmanabhan: My first brush with computing was in the early 1980s when I became a programmer by accident. I realised that the job in IT gave me a sense of achievement and power. After completing my university degree, I was offered the job of designing a transaction-based system for a shipping company. Since then I have been involved in designing and implementing various systems and I've never had any regrets.
CW: Throughout your 15 years as an IT professional, what titles have you held and which has been the most fulfilling?
SP: I have held various roles including analyst programmer, project manager, IT business liaison manager and IT manager. Currently, as IT manager for the Australian Institute of Management, I formulate and implement IT strategy for the organisation. I spend most of my time ensuring that my department meets the business needs. In consultation with my CEO, my role determines IT direction and future planning for the organisation. I could very well say that my current position is the most fulfilling one.
CW: What is your greatest IT achievement?
SP: Implementing the innovative and highly successful, member-exclusive online service - AIMNet for the institute. New members are able to register online and attain immediate access to an unprecedented number of online resources. AIMNet offers online library service, international management databases, virtual e-mail facility and a direct link to a host of other online services. www.aimnet.com.auCW: What IT projects is the institute working on at the moment?
SP: We are evaluating our online business needs to meet the member requirements in the context of where the market is going. This involves developing a long-term e-business strategy consistent with overall business and service objectives.
CW: What aspects of your job do you enjoy the most?
SP: As an IT manager, I look forward to my next goal and my next achievement. The rapid pace of technological change provides the challenge to keep abreast of the latest trends in IT, which in turn enables me to work towards my vision.
CW: Would you ever consider becoming a consultant?
SP: Given the appropriate market conditions, I might consider establishing a consultancy helping companies to build and execute innovative and strategic IT ventures.
CW: If you could restart your career, would it still be in the IT industry?
SP: Of course. I have always enjoyed working in IT. It is constantly changing and despite what a lot of people think, it is actually one of the industries where you mostly deal with people. On top of that, I like the challenge and when I achieve my goal, it gives me great pleasure.
CW: What do you believe are the hottest technology trends right now?
SP: E-Business - Internet technologies will have a substantial impact on most organisations as it becomes a key growth opportunity and not just a time-consuming sideshow or source of information.
Portal development is still in the early stages and users can expect more efforts to make more corporate data accessible from a Web site. A new breed of online service, business-to-business (B2B) Web portals, is going to turn around the old-economy supply chain. B2B portals will provide unprecedented access to a database of buyers, suppliers and products.
Customer relationship management provides opportunity for companies to bring together the influx of data, analyse that data, and then personalise both services and products to the customers. It is essential to understand customers and strengthen the relationships with them in today's demand driven economy.
CW: Who would you like to invite to dinner (living or dead)?
SP: Bill Clinton. I think he is a man with a great vision for life. He knew exactly what he wanted. At 15 he wanted to be president of the US. He meticulously worked his way up to become a president. It is almost as if he said, This is my goal, this is the road, this is the chart and this is the timetable.' This is amazing and quite exciting.
CW: Where do you see yourself in five years?
SP: I see myself as a CIO for a large international organisation.