Interview with Patnaik Biswakesh – Practice Leader & Sr. Sales Director (EMEA) at Infosys
When Patnaik Biswakesh, a Practice Leader & Sr. Sales Director (EMEA), visited Prague, we had the opportunity to interview him. Our conversation delved into his career path, his perspectives on his current role, his experiences in the Czech environment, and a range of other interesting topics. Discover all the insightful details from the interview below.
Could you briefly describe your career so far? How did you get to the position you are in now?
I graduated from Berhampur University in India, majoring in mathematics. After graduating, I was lucky that I joined an American company as technical support. At that time there was a big boom in IT outsourcing in India, especially contact centers and call centers. After four years I moved into IT service management, and I started working for one of the world’s largest providers of public services to Governments in the UK as a manager for IT service management. During the 7 years, I moved up the ladder within the organization in several roles from Manager to Deputy General Manager.
After 7 years I took a step back. I questioned myself, “What should I do next?” At that time Infosys came my way and in 2012 I joined Infosys Process Consulting Group which was engaged in transforming IT processes for customers, for example, how to fix an incident, how to fix changes, identifying the bottleneck in the process, and recommending what needed to be done to improve the process purely process-wise. I was promoted a couple of times and in 2014 I came to the UK to be closer to our European customers, such as TNT Express, Reckitt, Welsh Water, etc.
In 2017 I took stock of what I had done and what I was going to do next, which would give me the opportunity to develop myself again. And that's when I consciously moved into a sales organization. We were primarily focusing on service transformation. Infosys was deciding between a few products and ServiceNow achieved a very high score. We looked at the architecture and the portfolio and we liked the fact that ServiceNow is completely cloud-based, it releases new versions every six months and brings new features for the customers, and I was asked to lead ServiceNow sales for the whole of Europe.
What is your role now? Do you work part-time for GuideVision and part-time for Infosys? What is the interconnection?
GuideVision is a great organization in terms of capability, but in terms of sales and revenue growth, the management thought that if Infosys has been doing so well in sales, why not replicate it with GuideVision? We don't see GuideVision as a separate third-party vendor. GuideVision is another business unit. When I am working on a deal, I am working on it with your colleagues from Sales.
Management told me that I need to come up with a plan to replicate the same growth numbers (60-70% YoY) at GuideVision. That's my next challenge and I will continue to do what I did at Infosys. You will be seeing me more in Prague Gate building in the coming months as we go through this transformation.
What do you think is the biggest challenge for you in this new role?
I think there's still a mismatch in terms of the process. For example, the way solutions are estimated, the way approvals work, and the way different stakeholders are involved in the sales process are still a little bit different in a GuideVision organization than it is in Infosys. The biggest challenge for me is to combine these two processes and create an internal process for the whole EMEA team within both organizations. For me, there is only one region in which we operate and One Infosys.
What do you think distinguishes GuideVision from other IT companies?
I feel that GuideVision is not an organization, but a family of people working together to get to something special. That is what I have recognized over the past two and a half years, during working closely with some of my GuideVision colleagues.
I like the bond between the employees and the employer here. The people at GuideVision are very honest and open. They always tell us if a process is going to work or if it's something that might not work here. Transparency and honesty are other things I like about GuideVision. In terms of collaboration and the way people work, it is unique. And that is something we do not want to change.
How did your work change since you started working with GuideVision?
In my professional field, every four or five years I have to take on a new challenge and met it. In terms of effort, it doesn't change because again every four to five years I do something new and adjust my responsibilities. Travel is not a big issue for me because, in my role at Infosys, I travel every week anyway.
What changes for me is working more closely with our European colleagues. In Infosys, even though it is a diverse organization, employees are still predominantly Indian. It is a new experience that I will get working with a very diverse group of people. Also, as an example, I have never worked with Czech customers before. Sitting here in Prague and working with GuideVision people, getting to know their culture, finding out how they work, that's going to be a new thing for me.
When you compare the atmosphere at the Prague headquarters with the atmosphere at Infosys in London, do you see any difference?
A big difference. In fact, I feel more relaxed if I am here in Prague. If you take a daily life in London, everyone is in a rush. Life in London is very fast, very aggressive. We don't have quality time to ourselves, to think what to do differently. This diminishes our ability to be creative, we just do what we have to.
In the Czech Republic, I see a better balance when it comes to your work-life ratio. For example, last night we went out after our meeting and had a nice dinner from seven to about ten. We had three hours to get to know each other, talk about ourselves, about the kids, and so on.
In the corporate world in London, you work, work, work, work, and by the time you get home you're so tired that you just go to bed, wake up and it all starts again the next morning.
Why do you think there is such a big difference between the way of working in London and in the Czech Republic? Is it the amount of work or the attitude of people to work?
I think they're a mixture of both. I have already said that a characteristic of GuideVision is honesty and transparency. For example, when I work with Norbert on a revenue plan, he tells me whether the numbers are achievable or not. When I talk to colleagues in London about unachievable numbers, they will say OK, these numbers are great, we will go ahead and achieve them. But I think in the UK we are not reasonable about the estimates and then they can scrape to achieve it. People here are more realistic in their commitments.
Working hours is another good example. If I take a ServiceNow developer in London now, whatever level role he is in, he is working on his eight, ten hours a day. But if you take a ServiceNow developer at GuideVision, he's only working six and a half hours. An hour and a half are devoted to his learning. I think that's the difference between London and the Czech Republic. I would love to replicate it everywhere.
We are at the beginning of the new fiscal year for Infosys, what are the targets for us? Do you know them already?
If I look at my plan for 2024, which is the new financial year, we want to achieve approx. 38 % to 40 % year-on-year growth. One of my tasks is to normalize the numbers between Infosys and GuideVision as in the previous year we went very strongly on the Infosys side. If I look at the year-on-year comparison of both Infosys ServiceNow and GuideVision ServiceNow, on the Infosys side the growth was about 78 %, on the GuideVision side it was only 18 %. This year we are trying to get GuideVision’s growth to 30 %. For the whole GuideVision, it is a huge push, and it will require more focus and more attention. We believe it is achievable thanks to certain interventions that we are discussing in the sales plan. We will use the large pre-sales organization in India to support the GuideVision sales team. We want GuideVision to have access to all Infosys case studies to use them as a reference for new customers. These are the first steps we are making to ensure that the growth is balanced between the organizations evenly and to help GuideVision with its goals.
And as you know us quite well after those 2 and half years, what do you think we should STOP doing, START doing, and what we should KEEP doing?
I know from the sales team's perspective you should STOP worrying so much about the risk associated with the solution you are selling. My personal experience is that you are too concerned about whether you are able to deliver the product at a given price. You think twice, three, and four times about the risk that quite often you are probably going to pause and say we cannot do it. You are mixing sales and delivery a lot.
We have 3,000 people in the Infosys ServiceNow practice. My primary objective is to understand whether we have the capability to deliver the solution. I don't care if I have people on the bench right now who can come in and deliver it, I just need to know that Infosys has the ability to deliver this requirement. If we do, then we get on with it. We create a solution and sell it to the customer. Of course, this process involves our delivery organization and finding out where we can pull resources.
I think that is something that we should START doing within GuideVision, without looking too much at the resourcing model. We should talk to the customer about what we are delivering or what is the outcome of what we are delivering. Infosys' approach is more focused on the outcome, and GuideVision’s approach is based on resourcing. You should start to relate more to our experience, capabilities, and resources as we can help you in many different fields.
I like the personal time that you devote to each model you estimate. If you are estimating a source, you are estimating 6,5 hours, not 8 hours and that is something you should KEEP doing. I think we should give people room to remain creative, that is the aspect of your attitude I like a lot.
ServiceNow covers a lot of modules. Which are the key ones you would like to focus on in the next year?
I see that the market for the ITSM module is already fully saturated. You take 80% of customers who use ServiceNow, and of those, 90% use ITSM as a model. That is why we want to focus on non-IT modules. Particularly models like HR Service Delivery, Global Business Services for back-office operations Procurement Service Management models, and Industry Solutions. Those are all open spaces to explore. So for this year, we plan that 60 % of our revenue should come from these areas and 40 % of our revenue will continue to come from IT.
What are the goals you would like to achieve in your career? When do you feel fulfilled?
From a personal standpoint I will keep doing what I am doing and every five years I will probably keep exploring what I want from myself.
I have one daughter. She has just started studies at college in London and I want to support her as much as I can. So, when she settles down and starts to live her own life that is the moment when I can say to myself, I have achieved enough, and now I can take a step back and enjoy my retirement life. I can imagine myself sitting somewhere in the south of France or Spain during the spring, not in a business meeting, and taking time just for myself.
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