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Driving Transformational Change in Fintech

Can there be a connection between traditional CTOs and police officers in Hindi movies from the last era? Bhushan points out an uncanny similarity. In almost all the films, the police would invariably arrive in the last frame. “Their job was just to arrest the baddies and clean up the mess at the end - all the same script, every time,” says the Stanford graduate.  Till a decade back, the police on the big screen were neither proactive nor preventive. “And this is what the conventional CTOs used to do in their scripted technology management roles,” avers Bhushan, explaining his analogy. The new-age CTOs should be like dynamic police officers of blockbuster movies like Singham who not only pre-empt future crime but also define a game plan, build an agile force, adopt the latest tools, and attack surgically to maintain the social security fabric.  Bhushan says, “As customer expectations are changing at a hyper pace, today’s CTOs must put digital technology and AI in the driver’s seat and explore possibilities to innovate business models for staying ahead of the disruption curve. They must be customer-obsessed and should build bridges with the users through habit-forming products and game-changing platforms. The role is not scripted anymore. It has become far broader and is continuously evolving.” “In summary, they will have to become Chief Transformation Officers” he adds.  After an engineering degree from the University of Mumbai, Bhushan started his journey as a software engineer. As a super-charged geek out of college, he got hands dirty across a wide array of technologies gaining good technical expertise across architecture and coding. 

What followed next was a series of techno-functional stints with Morgan Stanley’s Equities CRM buildout program in India, Credit Suisse Private Bankings Global Portfolio Analytics Initiative in Singapore & Zurich, and Standard Chartered’s Trading and Risk management transformation programs in Singapore.  The real game-changing opportunity came through with Bank of America and Merrill Lynch’s multi-billion dollar post-merger integration where Bhushan led tech, and operating model transformation for 12 AsiaPac markets across Equities, Fixed Income, FX, and Derivatives asset classes to streamline the firm into an integrated broker-dealer franchise. That was followed by multiple CTO hats running business change and building tech, platforms for new market entries across emerging economies, launching a flurry of marquee FICC products across electronic trading and OTC businesses. “The tenor at Bank of America taught me how to re-fuel businesses through Tech-led transformations navigating across global legacy, managing multi-cultured workforce, and a massive scale”, he adds.  Then came a sharp turn in 2016, when Bhushan discovered his “comfort-zoned” way of work. Call it one of the flip sides of having an extra-long innings at huge multinational corporates, slower adoption of change, or conservative appetite to experiment with the new FinTech possibilities.  

The doors opened a series of transformational CTO/CPO roles with Publicis Sapient group in India and UK, Emirates NBD in Dubai, and SMC group in India, where Bhushan got “Industry-first” opportunities to build B2C & B2B digital ecosystems and mobile/web apps for Trading, Investing, Lending and Wealth management businesses leveraging new digital ammunition -social, mobile, cloud, APIs, machine learning and data science. He has not only helped businesses launch digital products from scratch but also scaled to a million user base with exponential revenue growth. He recently joined 360 ONE, erstwhile IIFL Wealth and Asset Management as CTO to build the Digital Wealth Management & Robo-Advisory SuperApp.  “I have been fortunate to get groomed by some world-class leaders and privileged to be at the right spot at the right time” to what Bhushan owes a larger part of his 20 years of exemplary ride.  Extracting from various learnings and experiences, he says, “As the tech-play has become the strategic differentiator in the marketplace for the BFSI firms, the role of a quintessential CTO has become “Multiple Ts”. Along with a cutting-edge technologist, The CTO of tomorrow must bring a convergence of a business domain specialist, a storyteller, a change agent, an entrepreneur, and a veracious leader ever ready for the VUCA battlefield. 

Constantly evolving as a thought leader, Bhushan focuses on creating an open culture that encourages diversity of opinions and ideas beyond genders and hierarchies to foster innovation. Learning is perpetual and Bhushan always believes to be a student for life - he is currently pursuing an executive master’s degree in Quantitative Finance and Risk Management from IIT Kanpur.  Bhushan has been nominated as a “Mentor of Change” by Atal Innovation Mission (AIM - part of NITI Aayog -Govt, of India’s thinktank) in a voluntary capacity and contributes his 2 cents to help build the new “Digital India”. He has built a strong network with the VC/ PE community across India, Asia, and the valley and regularly speaks at various industry forums. An avid traveler, and a sports-bike rider, Bhushan loves reading books and playing badminton in his spare time.