Executive Vice President, Insurance, Virtusa
When Ganesh Iyer graduated in engineering 30 years ago he dreamed of changing the world with a new invention but after trying out a few options, he found himself working at a technology company in his native, Mumbai.
He makes it sound like an accident but today he says it was the best thing that could have happened to him. “You can't be in a more exciting place when you look at how technology has evolved over that period and how it has changed the business landscape.” He really enjoys helping businesses change – and now adapt to post-covid realities. Nowhere, he says, is this more evident than in the insurance vertical he now leads as EVP at Virtusa.
Interaction with people, his teams and customers and their problems, is what he most enjoys about his work. “I am a social animal! I am working with a set of brilliant people. Our roots and our DNA are in engineering and we have phenomenal engineering talent in the company.” Motivating his own people and the people they encounter is a passion of his – he relishes the awareness that every individual is different, with unique talents.
Technology cannot solve all the customers' problems on its own, he emphasises. “I try to build teams that get together cohesively with our insurance industry customers to tackle their issues – and we have been very successful. If you look at our many success stories, I can proudly claim that our teams have been at the centre in achieving them. I am very passionate about this and what I think I bring to the table is the ability to infuse that passion in others. I surround myself with people who continually challenge me – I don't profess to know everything: it's only when you create a multi-talented team that the magic can happen!”
This for Iyer is what job satisfaction is all about. The icing on the cake is when customers tell him that his teams are a delight to work with, even remotely. “It is very gratifying that our people really influence the customers when they are opening new tech pathways and implementing unfamiliar technologies in the insurance space.”
His enthusiasm for the insurance industry, which he has always respected deeply as one of the oldest and most mature business sectors, matches his personality. It's hard to pick out what excites him most, but the clue may lie in his instinct to empathise. “The more you can put yourself in the client's shoes, and visualise the way they look at the situation, the more you will be able to make an impact. I learned that early in my career and it has helped me throughout.”
Satisfaction out of the office takes different forms for Ganesh Iyer. A senior insurance executive hinted to him in 2003 that it would be a good thing if he were to take up golf, a pastime that is as much social as physical. The idea did not appeal to him at all. “India as you know is a cricketing nation, and frankly though I was aware of golf I thought nothing could be more boring! But he said 'here are some clubs, you'd better give it a try'. Well, I am eternally grateful to him now for getting me into golf, which I now think is a fantastic game. It's a sport I really like, and it's yet another thing I owe to insurance, if indirectly!
He's from a very talented family, most of whom live in India and he stays closely in touch. “Music is in our DNA – Bombay where I grew up is a melting pot of different cultures, so you get a fusion of North and South Indian music. I love to listen to a wide variety of music, though I'm not much of a performer myself!” His talent developed differently from his brother Sairam Iyer – a well-known classically trained singer and recording artist, with a remarkable vocal range.
But for Ganesh Iyer, these strong creative genes have a part to play in how he motivates and inspires himself and the people around him.
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