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6/23/2010
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After nearly three decades of managing IT for financial services, with major stints at Bank of America, and more recently with HDFC Bank, where he was the third employee, CN Ram is trying something new. As CIO of Essar Group, he's leading IT for a conglomerate spanning steel, oil and gas, power, telecom, shipping, construction, and mining.

With operations in more than 20 countries across five continents, Essar Group employs 60,000 people, with annual revenue of $15 billion. As group president and CIO, Ram's primary responsibility is to mentor CIOs of each of the business units and supervise the activities of Essar IT Limited (EITL), a 700-person organization responsible for implementation, support and enhancement of software packages as also the company's infrastructure, telecommunications, security, and availability services.

Ram's mandate is to enhance use of IT in Essar to enable collaboration and faster decision-making, reduce cost using shared services, and establish IT governance and process excellence.

In addition to his Essar group role, Ram and five other executives have created a venture called Rural Shores Business Services, a company trying to set up business process outsourcing centers exclusively in Indian villages, looking to create employment opportunities for rural, educated youth. It's business pitch is to save Indian companies money, but it's driven by a social agenda of increasing economic opportunities in rural India so young people don't have to move to the cities to find work.

In the past Ram has been on the advisory boards of a number of technology companies, including Oracle, NCR, Sun, and Symantec, and Visa's Asia-Pacific tech advisory board. At Bank of America, Ram led the effort to set up the bank's Indian IT operations across its branches. -InformationWeek India

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