22+ Years of Shaping the Future through Technology, Leadership and Sustainability!
“Can technology truly reshape the future, or is it merely a tool we wield in the present?” This question, though seemingly straightforward, opens the door to a profound exploration of the transformative journey led by Ramesh Murugesan, the Chief Information & Technology Officer at Al Gihaz Holding. With a career spanning over 22 years, he stands as a strategic visionary, navigating the complex realms of Digital Transformation, IT Service Delivery and operations, and pioneering IT project management.
Ramesh has emerged as a trailblazer, steering cross-functional teams in designing and integrating cutting-edge technological solutions. His expertise goes beyond conventional realms, touching on Digital Transformation, Cloud Computing, ERP systems, Cybersecurity, Artificial Intelligence, and more. His leadership style is marked by a focus on acquiring and developing high-performing leaders, fostering a culture of excellence that fuels innovation.
Beyond the boardrooms and technological landscapes, Ramesh is a seasoned public speaker, sharing insights on the critical facets of IT, including Next-Gen Infrastructure, Robotic Process Automation, Asset Management, and Organization Change Management. His ability to build customer journey and empathy maps has been instrumental in fostering a digital transformation culture, reinforced by robust business partnerships.
Ramesh’s influence extends into the realm of environmental sustainability, championing the cause of paperless office culture to reduce the carbon footprint and aligning with the net-zero vision of the Kingdom. Notably, he has pioneered the implementation of a hybrid workplace culture, showcasing his ability to adapt and lead in the ever-changing dynamics of the modern workplace.
Join us as we delve into the captivating narrative of Ramesh’s journey, unlocking the potential of tomorrow through the lens of digital transformation and technological leadership.
Could you please brief about AL GIHAZ and its inception story?
AL GIHAZ is a diversified Saudi Arabian company with more than 48 successful years of providing integrated solutions for conventional energy, renewal energy, communications infrastructure, security services, and experimental projects. This is applied through investing in internal expertise as well as partnering with experts in their own fields. Algihaz is expanding into new industries to capitalize on the growth opportunities offered within the kingdom and offshore.
What strategies do you employ to drive innovation and technological advancement within your organization, and how do you prioritize technology projects and initiatives to align with the company’s goals and objectives?
In steering innovation and technological progress within our organization, we adhere to a ‘Remote-first and Cloud-first’ strategy. Our approach to prioritizing technology projects revolves around a dual focus: first, assessing the ease of implementation, and second, evaluating the potential business value each initiative brings. This thoughtful combination ensures that our technological endeavors align seamlessly with the company’s overarching goals and objectives.
Can you share an example of a successful technology implementation that you have overseen and its impact on the organization?
- Digital Transformation – When I joined ALGIHAZ the Automation /System Maturity level: was 30 ~ 40% and the System Utilization Maturity level: was 25 ~ 30%. organizations, and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) projects are no exception. Gartner estimates that 55% to 75% of all ERP projects fail to meet their objectives. Business Process Management, ERP cloud implementation, and integration with various systems for the Holding Company and its subsidiaries. The implementation covers the Procure-To-Pay, Order-To-Cash, Hire-To-Retire, Business Processes of Financials (Human Capital Management, Supply Chain Management, Projects and Portfolio Management, Saudi Payroll, Warehouse Management, Maintenance, Treasury (Business to Banking Integration), Bank Facility Management (LG, LC), Vehicle & Equipment Lease & Rental Solution, and Utilities Payment.
- Digital workplace: Document Management System – Driving paperless office work environment by implementing a paperless office policy to support Net-Zero Vision; reducing paper usage by 80%+ in 12 months
- Enterprise-wide Knowledge Management System Implementation to Capture Lessons Learned (LL), Construction Support (CS), and Ask Expert (AE)
- Hybrid workplace culture implementation by integrating Ms-Teams calling solution with Cisco Call Manager, which reduces the international calling cost at the captive centers.
How do you ensure the security and integrity of the organization’s technology infrastructure?
Ensuring the security and integrity of the organization’s technology infrastructure involves a comprehensive approach. We’ve implemented a robust Cybersecurity Management System, established stringent security controls, and proudly received the Aramco Cybersecurity Compliance Certification. Additionally, we’ve taken strides in fortifying our defenses by implementing cutting-edge Next-Gen Endpoint Detection and Response technologies. To address vulnerabilities at the communication level, we’ve also integrated an advanced email security solution, effectively minimizing the impact of spam emails. Our commitment to a multi-layered security strategy underscores our dedication to safeguarding the organization’s technological assets.
What steps do you take to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and advancements in technology?
I actively participate in tech conferences and summits. Additionally, I contribute as a public speaker at technology summits, sharing insights and learning from industry peers. To enhance my knowledge further, I’ve subscribed to Gartner’s IT Leadership seat, which provides me with invaluable advisory support from Gartner. These efforts ensure that I remain well-informed and equipped to navigate the dynamic landscape of technology.
How do you foster a collaborative and productive relationship between the technology team and other departments within the organization?
To nurture a collaborative and productive relationship between the technology team and other departments, we’ve instituted a Business Process Transformation Committee. This committee is composed of key figures, including the Business Functional Track Team Head, Champions, and IT Leads.
On a weekly basis, we conduct IT roadmap reviews with the Business Functional Track Team Head and associated members. These sessions serve as a platform to collectively establish priorities and meticulously monitor the progress of project deliveries. This structured approach ensures seamless communication and alignment between the technology team and other integral departments, fostering a spirit of collaboration and efficiency.
Can you discuss any challenges you have faced as a CTO and how you have overcome them?
Addressing challenges in my role as a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) has been a dynamic journey. One notable challenge has been managing the constant turnover of team members, which inherently triggers shifts in processes and consequently impacts the maturity of our technology. Additionally, navigating through the frequent changes in business requirements and grappling with unclear master data have posed difficulties, contributing to some projects exceeding their planned timelines. Overcoming these challenges has required a combination of adaptability, strategic planning, and a commitment to refining our processes to maintain technological resilience and project efficiency.
How do you promote a culture of continuous learning and professional development within your technology team?
Fostering a culture of ongoing learning and professional development within our technology team involves several strategic initiatives. We actively encourage attendance at seminars and facilitate exposure to new technologies. Additionally, we mandate that each team member obtain at least one certification per year to stay abreast of industry advancements. Moreover, we conduct technology awareness roadshows, creating an environment that not only embraces continuous learning but also ensures our team is well-versed in the latest technological trends.
What are your thoughts on emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, and the Internet of Things, and how do you see them impacting your industry?
I believe emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, blockchain, and the Internet of Things are poised to significantly impact our industry. As a labor-intensive organization, incorporating augmented reality and digital twins becomes crucial to optimizing resource allocation, particularly by avoiding skilled personnel spending excessive time traveling to remote sites. The integration of AI holds immense potential for mitigating health and safety incidents, providing an effective means of control in our operational landscape. These technologies represent not just advancements but strategic tools that can streamline processes and enhance overall efficiency in our organization.
Please give us a few testimonials from your clients and awards or recognition that accurately highlight your achievements in the corporate niche.
- CIO of the year 2023 from CXO DX LEAP Media Solutions in 2023
- ICT Leadership Award in 2023 from CXO Insight Middle East
- Top CISO award in Construction & Engineering Industry from QNA
- Best Digital Transformation Projects Award in the Data & AI Summit in Riyadh