Chhaya Kewalramani Of Genpact On How To Use Digital Transformation To Take Your Company To The Next Level

An Interview With Cynthia Corsetti

…Digital Accessibility — digital accessibility is crucial for digital transformation because it broadens user engagement and inclusivity. This approach helps organizations reach a wider audience by ensuring that digital services are usable and accessible to all, improving customer satisfaction and compliance. Two classical examples of this are Microsoft and Apple.

Digital transformation has become a crucial component for businesses striving to stay competitive and relevant in today’s rapidly evolving landscape. As technology continues to shape industries and redefine business models, companies must adapt and leverage digital tools and strategies to unlock new opportunities for growth and innovation. In this interview series, we aim to explore various aspects of digital transformation, including best practices, challenges, success stories, and expert insights. We are talking to thought leaders, industry experts, entrepreneurs, technology innovators, and executives who have firsthand experience in driving digital transformation initiatives within their organizations. As part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Chhaya.

Chhaya is a recognized leader and expert in Organizational Change Management, focusing on human-centered strategies for digital and enterprise changes. With more than a decade of experience in areas such as Mergers and Acquisitions and Digital Transformations, she emphasizes the importance of keeping employees motivated and informed during transitions. Currently, she leads Change Management for Genpact’s Life Sciences and healthcare verticals and has played a crucial role in developing change management functions for Amazon’s Finance Operations and HCL Technologies’ Digital & Analytics business line.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

My career in Organizational Change Management started after earning an MBA in 2014 focused on Human Resource Management and Organizational Behavior from Symbiosis Institute of Business Management. This background naturally led me into my current role, managing the human side of organizational changes. My experience across Europe, the UK, the USA, and India has broadened my understanding of different cultural and operational styles, making me more effective in diverse settings.

Early in my career, I worked in project management consultancy, where I developed strong skills in managing complex projects and understanding different operational landscapes. Later, at Tech Mahindra, I managed people change for clients in Europe and India, establishing a solid base in change management strategies.

In 2015, I played a key role in managing change for three major acquisitions, working closely with the Chief Human Resources Officer to ensure smooth integration and alignment with strategic goals. This role highlighted my capability to handle significant organizational transformations effectively.

Since 2017, I have been with HCL Technologies in Los Angeles, leading change management for major digital and enterprise transformations across North America. I have implemented change strategies for high-profile clients like TIAA, World Bank Group, and Keurig Dr Pepper, significantly enhancing adoption and success. My methods focus on user-centric interventions and stakeholder engagement, ensuring that changes are not only implemented but are also well-received within organizations.

Currently, I head the Change Management Function for Genpact’s Life Sciences and Healthcare Industry clients, crafting change initiatives that closely align with client objectives and industry standards. My career is dedicated to improving organizational effectiveness through strategic change, leveraging both my human and technical understanding of transformation projects.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?

At the beginning of my tenure in a crucial role supporting the CHRO and leading change for three acquisitions, one of my initial tasks involved managing the onboarding of employees post-acquisition. I approached my first onboarding meeting with enthusiasm, ready to engage and welcome the new team members warmly. However, I was greeted by a room full of people who were visibly upset, restless, and indifferent to my efforts to lighten the mood.

At that moment, I didn’t fully grasp how sensitive these transitions were and the deep impact such business changes could have on people’s lives. This was a real eye-opener for me. I learned an important lesson about the need for empathy and understanding from the employees’ point of view. It showed me that change management isn’t just about processes and systems, but very much about people and their emotions. This experience has profoundly influenced how I approach organizational changes, always ensuring to put the human aspect at the forefront of any transformation.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

Absolutely, behind every success, there’s support from others, and I’ve been particularly fortunate in this regard. Early in my career, I supported a senior leader at HCL Technologies with post-merger integrations. This leader, a highly respected figure in the company, played a crucial role in shaping HCL’s digital services portfolio. I am immensely grateful for his trust in me to lead the development of the change management practice. His decision to place me in the US was pivotal; it gave me the chance to tackle real-time transformation problems and build my skills in a dynamic environment.

Alongside him, I was mentored by a change management guru based in the UK, who brought a wealth of global experience. Together in 2017, we began to develop a comprehensive approach to change management within digital transformations. Starting with a basic framework, we tested and refined our methods across multiple diverse transitions, which we then expanded into an extensive toolkit. This toolkit has become a cornerstone of the change management practice for HCLs Digital Business , essential for navigating complex changes effectively.

After HCL Technologies, I worked at Amazon, where I learned to solve problems at scale, an experience that has been invaluable. I am now applying all that I’ve learned in my current role at Genpact, where I lead the change management portfolio for the LifeScience and healthcare vertical. I owe a deep sense of gratitude to both these leaders — not just for their trust but also for the significant opportunities they provided, which accelerated my career. Their guidance was crucial in shaping my understanding and approach, positioning me where I am today.

Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

One film that has had a profound impact on me is “Ratatouille.” This animated masterpiece isn’t just a story about a rat who dreams of becoming a chef; it’s a deeper exploration of pursuing one’s passion against all odds. What resonated with me the most is the film’s core message: no matter how small you are or where you come from, if you focus on your craft and hone your passion, you are bound to succeed.

Remy’s journey as a rat chef is inspiring because it mirrors the challenge of excelling in a field where you’re considered an outsider. His commitment to his culinary skills, despite setbacks and skepticism, exemplifies how passion can earn admiration and delight from others. This resonates with me as embracing my passions, despite challenges, has driven my success.

“Ratatouille” showed me that success can come from unexpected places. It reminds me to persevere, innovate, and love what I do. Each viewing renews my motivation to focus on my passions, push boundaries, and touch hearts uniquely. This film has both inspired and guided my professional journey, encouraging me to excel in all circumstances.

Are you working on any new, exciting projects now? How do you think that might help people?

I’m currently involved in some exciting projects that are particularly rewarding. I recently published a paper in a scholarly journal where I introduced a framework for incorporating generative AI into change management practices. Additionally, I’m collaborating with a professor from an Ivy League MBA program to create case studies that will aid in teaching complex change management concepts. This work is enriching the academic field and providing practical insights for future leaders.

Following that, I am also mentoring a group of budding change managers and transformation enthusiasts at work. This mentorship involves helping them understand and navigate organizational change effectively, aiming to develop skilled professionals capable of leading positive changes within their organizations.

Both initiatives support the professional development of individuals and have the potential to broadly improve organizational effectiveness.

Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion about Digital Transformation. Digital transformation can mean many things to many people, from your perspective, how do you define digital transformation in your industry?

In my words I would say that digital transformation is the process of using digital technologies to change or improve business processes, culture, and customer experiences to meet new market demands. It’s about reshaping business for the current era, the digital era where systems are connected, data is everywhere, everything is on the cloud, and accessibility is expected anywhere, anytime on any device.

Which companies can most benefit from a Digital Transformation?

Digital transformation can significantly benefit companies across various sectors depending on what are the benefits they are seeking, especially those needing to update their operations or customer interactions. Here are some examples:

  • Retail Businesses: Integrating e-commerce, using data for personalized experiences, and adopting digital payments can enhance customer satisfaction and operational efficiency.
  • Healthcare Providers: Digital health records, telemedicine, and mobile health apps can improve patient care and streamline operations.
  • Manufacturing Companies: Automation, IoT (Internet of Things), and smart factories can increase efficiency, reduce costs, and improve quality.
  • Financial Services: Digital banking, automated trading, and blockchain can provide more secure and efficient services.
  • Education Institutions: Online platforms, digital materials, and virtual classrooms can make education more accessible and engaging.
  • Transportation and Logistics: Digital routing and automated fleet management can optimize operations and reduce costs.
  • Media and Entertainment: Streaming services and personalized content can attract and engage more audiences.
  • Utilities and Energy Companies: Smart grids and digital metering can enhance service delivery and promote sustainability.

Has integrating Digital Transformation been a challenging process for some companies? What are the challenges? How do you help resolve them?

I’ve supported many digital transformations over the last decade, and I’ve noticed some common challenges:

  1. Cultural Resistance: Employees and managers often hesitate to change established processes and practices due to fears of job loss or difficult adjustments. This can significantly slow down or even halt transformation efforts.
  2. Keeping Pace with Rapid Technological Changes: Technology evolves rapidly, and staying up to date with the latest advancements can be overwhelming for any organization.
  3. Lack of Digital Expertise: Many companies struggle with a shortage of the necessary skills to implement and manage new digital technologies. Finding and effectively training the right talent remains a significant challenge.
  4. Technological Integration: Integrating new digital tools with existing systems is often complex and costly, especially if the infrastructure is outdated.
  5. Data Security and Privacy Concerns: As digital transformations involve handling large volumes of data, ensuring the security and privacy of this data is a critical issue.
  6. Budget Constraints: Allocating sufficient funds for new technologies and the associated training is tough, particularly for smaller organizations.

As a change management expert and consultant with a unique ability to influence and guide company leaders, I help clients resolve common digital transformation challenges by sharing with them the industry best practices and learnings that we have built over transformations and guide through the above challenges :

  • Addressing Cultural Resistance: I work directly with leadership to promote a culture of openness and adaptability. I use workshops to highlight the benefits of change, and build support for new initiatives.
  • Keeping Pace with Technological Changes: Guide them to establish systems for ongoing technological updates, like innovation hubs or partnerships, ensuring companies stay competitive in a fast-evolving tech environment.
  • Building Digital Expertise: We identify skill gaps and create targeted training programs. I emphasize the long-term benefits of investing in digital skills, encouraging leaders to support continuous learning and strategic hiring.
  • Streamlining Technological Integration: I use my business and technology insight along with the experience of our experts to recommend scalable and secure integration solutions that align with company goals, gaining trust from stakeholders and disrupting end users in the least possible way.
  • Managing Budget Constraints: Once the leaders realize the potential returns and strategic value of the right elements of the transformations, it aids them in making informed financial decisions.

Based on your experience and success, what are “Five Ways a Company Can Use Digital Transformation To Take It To The Next Level”?

Based on my experience I have seen some patterns and principles that lead to scaling Digital Transformations successfully and I will list them here for you:

  1. Agile ways of working — As an expert in change management, I have seen agile methods, and an agile operating model is crucial for driving digital transformation because they promote flexibility and a quick response to changes. This approach allows organizations to adapt swiftly to new customer needs and technological trends, delivering value more efficiently. An excellent example of this is Amazon where These teams are empowered to be self-sufficient and agile, enabling Amazon to scale its innovations rapidly and maintain its position as a leader in e-commerce and cloud computing.
  2. Data & Analytics — I have seen data and analytics as important tools for digital transformation because they help in making informed decisions. These tools allow organizations to better understand market trends and customer behaviors, which can lead to more effective operations and improved strategies Netflix is a living example of this, the data-driven approach has allowed Netflix to effectively tailor its offerings to viewer preferences, significantly enhancing user engagement and satisfaction.
  3. Cloud Capability — recognize cloud capability as an asset for digital transformation because it enhances flexibility and scalability. This technology allows organizations to manage data and applications more efficiently, adapting quickly to changing business needs and improving overall performance. An example of this is Capital One, the bank has been an early adopter of cloud solutions, using the cloud to enhance data security, streamline operations, and provide better customer service.
  4. Digital Accessibility — digital accessibility is crucial for digital transformation because it broadens user engagement and inclusivity. This approach helps organizations reach a wider audience by ensuring that digital services are usable and accessible to all, improving customer satisfaction and compliance. Two classical examples of this are Microsoft and Apple.
  5. Culture of Innovation — Most Importantly, I believe that fostering a culture of innovation or digital culture is key to successful digital transformation. This environment encourages continuous learning and experimentation, allowing organizations to adapt swiftly to technological advancements and market changes, thereby enhancing their competitiveness and growth. Tesla for example is a market leader and is synonymous with innovation in the automotive and energy sectors.

In your opinion, how can companies best create a “culture of innovation” to create new competitive advantages?

To effectively create a “culture of innovation” and gain new competitive advantages, companies can:

  • Leadership Support: Ensure leaders actively promote innovation by setting clear goals and providing resources.
  • Encourage Curiosity and Risk-Taking: Create a supportive environment where failures are viewed as opportunities to learn.
  • Value Diverse Ideas: Encourage a wide range of perspectives to spark more creative solutions.
  • Reward Innovation: Recognize and reward both successful innovations and valuable learnings from failures.
  • Provide Training: Offer ongoing training to keep employees updated with the latest skills and technologies.
  • Promote Collaboration: Facilitate collaboration across different teams to enhance communication and generate new ideas.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Believe you can, and you are halfway there” by Theodore Roosevelt is my favorite quote.

How can our readers further follow your work?

You can follow me on LinkedIn where I actively share insights and updates about my work in digital transformation.

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

About the Interviewer: Cynthia Corsetti is an esteemed executive coach with over two decades in corporate leadership and 11 years in executive coaching. Author of the upcoming book, “Dark Drivers,” she guides high-performing professionals and Fortune 500 firms to recognize and manage underlying influences affecting their leadership. Beyond individual coaching, Cynthia offers a 6-month executive transition program and partners with organizations to nurture the next wave of leadership excellence.