Future 50
A New Generation of Leaders Has Arrived

For teaching teams to see agile as a fuel for innovative solutions

Guruchandraprabu Ramanathan has long understood the value of agile ways of working, especially when it comes to managing large, complex projects. “Things always change. Priorities change. If you work in an agile or hybrid way, you can adapt to changes better and more quickly,” he says. As a project manager for UST, Ramanathan applies that mindset to not only help organizations around the world accelerate their digital transformations, but to ensure teams understand the true potential of agile.

Case in point: Ramanathan took on a project to create an employee assistance portal. Yet as he dug in, he realized most of the 60 people working on the project weren’t versed in agile. So he established a training program that started with a two-day workshop on the basics of agile, followed by sessions that outlined the value of building a minimum viable product (MVP). Team members were taught how to launch a basic portal, then iterate additional capabilities based on evolving feedback from the client.

“We had to build everything entirely from scratch,” Ramanathan says. “We had only high-level requirements at the start, so we expected new requirements to come in and priorities to change as we moved toward the execution phase.”

Throughout training and during the project, Ramanathan conducted frequent ceremonies and retrospectives to gather input from team members.

Such investments paid off in real time. For instance, when the client asked Ramanathan’s team to develop a separate portal demonstration site that could be shared with current and potential customers, the team instinctively leaned into an iterative approach and delivered the demo while still developing the MVP for the employee portal.

“My team has now seen the benefits we can deliver with an agile way of working,” Ramanathan says.

The team delivered the MVP in October 2022, followed by the customer portal going live in June 2023. For Ramanathan, the project was more than a testament to agile. It was the first initiative he’d managed from end to end. And it showed what’s possible when project leaders empower teams to dream up innovative solutions.

Q&A: Guruchandraprabu Ramanathan on empathy, retaining top talent and a history of humankind

What project has most influenced you personally?

For my first project as a trainee engineer, I tested a new hospital management system before it went live at Adyar Cancer Institute. I worked closely with the end users and witnessed so many cancer patients’ stories of struggle and hope, which taught me empathy and humility.

What’s the biggest challenge facing young project leaders right now?

Retaining top talent. A few decades back, people started working and later retired at the same organization. Now that’s not the case, especially in IT.

Fast forward: What’s one way managing projects will have changed over the next decade?

The use of technologies like AI and machine learning will help us make data-driven decisions and make processes more efficient.

What book are you obsessed with recommending right now?

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. It provides a gripping and thought-provoking overview of our species’ journey from hunter-gatherers to the world’s dominant power.

What famous person would you want to recruit for your team?

Jack Dorsey, former CEO of Twitter, for his computing and programming skills.

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