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54 Transforming the Future with Sharad: Unveiling the Secrets to Digital Success

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Podcast with Sharad Part 3



Summary with Sharad Part 3:

Discover the key ingredients for a successful digitaltransformation journey in this engaging podcast episode. Join Andrew Liew and
Sharad Gupta as they unveil the secrets to unlocking passion, purpose, and
clarity. Learn how to embrace risk-taking, avoid theoretical pitfalls, and
navigate the ever-evolving landscape of AI in the future of work. Whether
you're a leader, a professional, or an aspiring change agent, this conversation
will empower you with actionable insights and inspire you to drive meaningful
transformation in your organization. Tune in now and embark on a
transformational journey like never before!

In this podcast episode, Andrew Liew and Sharad Guptadiscuss the importance of passion, purpose, and clarity in driving successful
digital transformation. They emphasize the need for individuals to take
ownership of initiatives and adopt an experimental mindset. The conversation
highlights the significance of rewarding risk-taking and avoiding a solely
theoretical approach. They suggest starting with real problems and utilizing a
combination of consulting advice and product companies to achieve success. They
also discuss the future of work in relation to AI development, emphasizing the
importance of focusing on high-value tasks and avoiding repetitive work. They
reassure that AI is not yet capable of replacing human creativity and ingenuity.
Regarding upskilling and reskilling, they propose a hands-on approach where
individuals tackle real problems and collaborate with others to learn and
become change agents.

[00:00:00] Andrew Liew: But the also interesting questionis that relative to people with a passion and a purpose and urgency and clarity
Which one will you pick? Because the reason why I'm asking is because you know
If I am passionate and I own this thing and urgency I may not have a very clear
idea because I'm not the subject matter.

[00:00:19] Andrew Liew: I know like for example I need tosolve this compliance problem. I know I need help. I do not know what kind of
help I need. So how do you help that? Yeah

[00:00:27] Sharad Gupta: Again, great question. Claritycomes with passion and purpose. So if you have a purpose that I am passionate
about solving a particular problem, you seek for clarity.

[00:00:38] Sharad Gupta: The clarity cannot come fromExternal advice you got to see and make your hand dirty and what was the problem.
And learn through experiments. And because it's tough for any executive who has
a aligned responsibility and day-to-day job and be able to wear these kind of
hats, right? [00:01:00] And it can only happenwhen you are passionate about it.

[00:01:03] Sharad Gupta: Because that would require someextra bit of work, extra bit of going extra mile. You cannot have an armchair
transformation. That's for sure. And unfortunately, a lot of times, especially
banks, take that armchair transformation approach, which doesn't work.

[00:01:19] Andrew Liew: Yeah, talking about armchairsapproach is almost that all because the board say we need digital
transformation We need yeah, let's do some bling projects, right?

[00:01:29] Andrew Liew: Yeah, and so you see that peoplewho are more into the how do I look good? How do I have this bling thing and
therefore I don't really want to own this thing But I have to be part of my
agenda because I need to answer to the top. Let's get some ABC consultants and
push everything to him, right?

[00:01:46] Andrew Liew: And so you don't see that movingrather if whereas those a business leader like, oh, I really think this thing
We need and I may not know have all the answer. Let's let me talk to this guy
talk to that guy And then I figure okay. This is the thing that I want to get [00:02:00] it done. And then I have that clarity now,the interesting question I want

[00:02:04] Sharad Gupta: to get to that is that...

[00:02:06] Sharad Gupta: And I've, frankly, I've seenthose people working almost like a business owner. They own that, within those.
So that sort of mentality and thought process is required and changes are
required. Those who can own the initiatives almost like they are the business
owner they get these things done.

[00:02:24] Sharad Gupta: And

[00:02:24] Andrew Liew: so the business owner, those thatowns the business, they get things done faster, but also in a very big, those
who have those mentality, I'm not talking about this. They are formally a
business owner.

[00:02:34] Andrew Liew: Oh, so it's like that mindset ofownership, right? Yes. And what about typically banks, their culture is always
risk adverse, risk based.

[00:02:43] Andrew Liew: And so they are not very keen toexperiment, to take risks. How do you help them? Or what is your advice to them
to enable them to own an experiment so that they can fail forward, I think the
first part is having the bonus [00:03:00]culture on the bank alignment of with... Not just with risk aversement, but
risk taking. Have you added, have you created something new? And have you
experimented lastly and has it produced some results, right? So rewarding
people for risk taking, prudent risk taking and getting things done is more
important than just sounding smart.

[00:03:23] Sharad Gupta: So I, I think what I've seen isthat in, in banks where the culture is that I've the people get rewarded for
risk taking obviously in this kind of areas, people can run behind and say that
regulator doesn't want it and give these objections. And and these are very
valid reasons or sometimes excuses.

[00:03:44] Sharad Gupta: But in banks where there is somebit of rewarding, rewardment to these kind of mentality, ownership mentality
and experimentation works. And on the other hand, I've also seen if the bank,
those who are experimenting... [00:04:00] Withdigital technologies, on a regular basis, they have a sound processes, how to
do it in, in, in systematic way.

[00:04:07] Sharad Gupta: They also the journey becomesmuch more easier.

[00:04:11] Andrew Liew: I see. Okay. That's a very goodone. So let me go to the next interesting question. So let's say a bank in
recent compliance decided to do digital transformation And then they like there
are two groups people as we all know Let's put these two groups together.

[00:04:27] Andrew Liew: One was the they care about thebling stuff look good and they have to answer the board and the other group is
I can and I'm passionate about it And so they want to Execute or implement AI
in the process of digital transformation. What is your advice? To them

[00:04:43] Sharad Gupta: to whom like to blink guys or

[00:04:46] Andrew Liew: to both parties like what is theadvice on?

[00:04:48] Andrew Liew: Where and when should AI beimplemented? Is it too early or is it too late, like at what stage that they
should start introducing AI or they should just introduce AI from the get [00:05:00] go or they should first digitize some oftheir processes then look at building use cases and introducing them later on
and then doing production.

[00:05:08] Andrew Liew: Let me try V.

[00:05:09] Sharad Gupta: Hello?

[00:05:10] Sharad Gupta: I think there's a...

[00:05:11] Sharad Gupta: Hi

[00:05:12] Andrew Liew: Sharad, can you hear me? Yes,

[00:05:13] Sharad Gupta: I can. Yes. Some problem.

[00:05:14] Andrew Liew: Yes, yeah. I'm thankful that wehad a good time. So let me recollect just on that question about yeah, for any
executive, whether they are the bling guys or whether they are the passionate
guy and they want to introduce artificial intelligence in the process of
digital transformation.

[00:05:31] Andrew Liew: What is your advice that you willgive to them? Sharad.

[00:05:35] Sharad Gupta: Yeah. I think advice is veryclear is know your problems well. First of all, start with a problem mindset,
problem solving mindset. If you are a business owner and you are very clear on
what is the problem you're solving and then you may take help of a consultant
in having a roadmap.

[00:05:55] Sharad Gupta: But just don't go with byhypothetical [00:06:00] problems. Solve a realproblem and use a good mix of consulting, advice, and product companies. There
are many startups which you can do POCs. And, so you have You should have a
real mix of real data driven experimentation along with a long term vision and
a roadmap how to get there, and then chances of success is, are much, much

[00:06:26] Sharad Gupta: Don't work on hypotheses, workon with a real, I mean prove those hypotheses and or disprove them and then
scale up. So start small, experiment with a good mix of consulting advice
because consultants sometimes bring structure to the problem solving. And then
work with start, do the poc and if those are successful, then do whatever those
initiatives are successful, scale it up and make that as a strategic priority.

[00:06:54] Andrew Liew: I see. That's a very good one.And okay, now the interesting question I wanna ask you is that in[00:07:00] the new world, because of this pandemiclike everybody is now, choosing between to work onsite and work from home
depending on the nature of work. But for most knowledge worker things have

[00:07:12] Andrew Liew: What do you think is the impactof AI development on the future of work?

[00:07:17] Sharad Gupta: Yeah I think the future of work.As I said, if, don't work on low value add things, because those work are
given, are going to be done by machines. We have seen it with in areas like
compliance, where the jobs are considered to be very secure, and you are
supposedly doing highly specialized job.

[00:07:37] Sharad Gupta: Yes. And even in those areasunless you are creative, you are not thinking and thinking with data, how do
you use data and the tools properly. Your jobs will be eliminated. We provide
as a technology company, we provide 50 to 70% of cost benefit. Those cost
benefit come from the people whose job AI is taking.[00:08:00]

[00:08:00] Sharad Gupta: But it is the a donkey job theywere doing. They, it was not a human like creativity they were using. Being
job, which or, even in, in normal job, you can be your creative best, right?
Two things, which. can add higher value to the organization and create
something. Don't do repetitive stuff because repetitive stuff is not going to
be for long.

[00:08:24] Andrew Liew: I really like the idea that youmentioned about thinking advising people who are working and business leaders
or middle managers, even juniors about looking at high value at work or high
value at a task and things that is repetitive will be automated by artificial
intelligence, and do you think that it will automate to the point where people
becomes more creative or it will automate to the point that people are so
worried about losing that a job they will actually don't want to cooperate with
AI startups [00:09:00] or AI vendors, you

[00:09:01] Sharad Gupta: know? No, I think by myexperience, it is miles, years light years away. The creative part is just in
understanding what technology is trying to achieve. Because there is a lot of
mystique around what AI can do. But what AI is doing is simply things which you
do on a routine basis.

[00:09:19] Sharad Gupta: And machine can learn thosethings. So if you are doing your 80% job is repetitive, then you should be
worried. Or not even 80%, I would say like 90, 95%. But if you, your job has a,
or you are creating a job where you are taking initiative, you are creating
something, you have a good mix of, naturally every job will have some part of
repetitive tasks, but it is not only repetitive tasks which you are doing,

[00:09:48] Sharad Gupta: Then I don't think so that humaningenuity and creativity has any replacement, AI has found it, no. Even in
Tesla, which is considered to be the benchmark in self driving cars, they [00:10:00] are at AI level 2, I don't know what thelevel they call it, but To be fully sufficient, fully self driven, they need to
be at level four or five, right?

[00:10:09] Sharad Gupta: And and that is Tesla. It is nota normal bank or a normal manufacturing company. Today's workers should never
be concerned about. Yeah, they should be concerned about, are they working like
bots? And I think that is a piece they should be worried about.

[00:10:26] Andrew Liew: I really like the way that yousay that.

[00:10:29] Andrew Liew: They should really think about,am I working like a bot? Am I doing the same things again every day, 365 days?
Maybe 200 days because they got holidays and leave, right? Now, companies are
also saying that, okay, yes, we're going to introduce AI to free up a lot of
repetitive work so that human beings can be creative, innovative, but to tackle
more difficult.

[00:10:49] Andrew Liew: stuff, difficult problems. Weneed a lot of different skill sets, right? We need computational thinking, we
need statistical thinking, we need problem solving skills, communication skills
even [00:11:00] creative design skills. So thequestion I wanted to ask is that to, for a person to move or to up skill and re
skill himself to tackle very hard problem takes time.

[00:11:12] Andrew Liew: This is the thing that we havebeen seeing around the whole world that all companies want to invest in
training but they are very reluctant to invest in training because they are
uncertain about when would this training give output. What is your view on

[00:11:27] Sharad Gupta: Wonderful question. And I'veseen people who have been like 30 year experience and no clue about data
science, no clue about AI, and because they are so used to working in the same
way, the repetitive tasks, and they migrating, they moving on in the AI
journey, and the single reason and single way they could do it that they knew
what problem they want to solve.

[00:11:51] Sharad Gupta: They know their job much betterthan anybody else. And they need AI for that purpose. And for that purpose,
whatever needed, they learn those. So [00:12:00]what I'm saying is even in training, it should not never be, and that's my
bias. It should never be a classroom training, 10 days training in a beautiful
resort and people spend time and learn and then people and have a good lunch
and maybe some drinks and forget about it.

[00:12:16] Sharad Gupta: Probably the right approach isthat why don't you live with this problem? Solve this problem. And here are
some people who are working, going to work with you and you challenge them and
you take ownership and learn through that, right? And you'll be a change agent
and then teach two other five, 10 people and involve in problem solving.

[00:12:37] Sharad Gupta: So the isolated approach that,Hey, I'm a data scientist. Or I'm a technologist. I'm not the business guy who
doesn't have any clue about technology or ai. Machine learning of no use is a
wrong approach. So I'm a firm believer. The purpose person who's driving the
car should teach ai.

[00:12:58] Sharad Gupta: That, how the AI should be, theAI [00:13:00] specification should come from adriver. Not from a technologist who is running the car behind the scene in the
lab. So

[00:13:08] Andrew Liew: you're a firm believer of the onthe job training or learn as you go, right? Solve the problem and learn. At the
same time, go and figure out this information, figure out how it's being used
great. And then

[00:13:19] Sharad Gupta: organizations need to addcertain incentives, to attest to their bonus. A lot of times, you do these
things and people, those things are not even counted on your promotions.
Because a lot of times it may be a failed initiative, because, to be frank a
lot of these initiatives do fail.

[00:13:36] Sharad Gupta: But I think rewarding people forthe ability to learn new stuff. an experiment and create is something which is
required and should be incentivized. You're

[00:13:46] Andrew Liew: absolutely right on that becausethe thing that we're seeing right now, whether it's in Singapore or around the
whole world, is that people are afraid to learn on the job because typically
the classical old school is, let's say, I learn, let's say, [00:14:00] mathematics or deep process.

[00:14:01] Andrew Liew: And this job... is specificallyboxed into this skill sets and I apply and I check check. But the new world is
so complex. Everything is moving. Every learning, every problem is moving
dynamically with new information, new technology, but human beings are like,
they'll be worrying like, Oh no, I go and take this job and then learn on the
go and I feel I will look super incompetent and I don't want to learn to be
super incompetent.

[00:14:25] Andrew Liew: So I rather not do that project.I go to the easy bling again, go to school or go to some box learning workshop,
get some certificate, show to the HR, show to the business unit, look I have
this bling certificate, this bling skills, and therefore if a problem that is
just nice, a square with a square, fits, I go and do the problem.

[00:14:47] Andrew Liew: What is your view on that?

[00:14:49] Sharad Gupta: Yeah clearly that doesn't work.Till the point it works is that it shows that person is interested in learning
this. But intention and action sometimes could be [00:15:00]different. Reward people for intention. Yes, they have certificate. They have
done a few things. They have shown the intention.

[00:15:06] Sharad Gupta: But... Where are the actions? Inthe old time, there used to be a green belt certificates. Why there cannot be a
green belt certificate for machine learning or even digital transformation? Because
those used to be more action oriented, outcome oriented. What is the ROI? What
is the impact you have created to the bottom line or your process, right?

[00:15:26] Sharad Gupta: How you solve a particularproblem. And that I believe is a more productive way rather than just the way
you say bling approach and rewarding people for the for the shine.

[00:15:37] Andrew Liew: Cool. And .