Puneet Garg: embracing and adopting change

Puneet Garg, CTO Enterprise at Smartfren. BUSINESS discusses the evolution of telecommunications and how to be an effective leader in the industry

Puneet Garg
Smartfren Business

CTO Enterprise

With 27 years of experience in the technology and telecommunications industry, dating back to 1991, Puneet Garg joined Smartfren. BUSINESS in 2019 as the company’s CTO Enterprise. “Working at HCL Ltd. in 1991 for three years was my first job in India after college. Following HCL Ltd. I worked with a few other market leading organisations before joining Smartfren. BUSINESS in 2019, including American Express, Astro in Malaysia, Lucent technologies in Singapore, CTO in Bharti Airtel, Board of Director and CTIO in IndosatM2 and Board of Director and CTO MyRepublic ID. Puneet has been working as a CTO & CIO and Board of Director positions bringing new technologies and solutions to our customers, primarily in three domains: Telecommunications, ICT and (the internet of things) IoT.”

Over the years, Puneet has seen the telecommunications industry change from one that was dominated by voice, to switching its focus to mobile connectivity. “When I started working in the industry, it was purely voice dominated. Back in 1991, there were no mobile networks in India; it came in 1995. So that was a big transformation for us where we saw fixed telephones move to mobile telephones, then came 3G and now we are talking about 5G. So from a simple connected phone, we become more open, mobile, and connect for any time to anywhere mobile communication providers.” In addition to the technological changes, Puneet reflects on the changes in customer behaviours. “Not only has the move from mobile phones to smartphones transformed customer behaviours, so has the entrant of industry 4.0 - the digitalisation of everything - which has highlighted the power 4G and 5G can provide enterprise customers. There will be much more and much bigger digital transformation happening once this mobile technology is set in the market.”

When it comes to the essential traits of an effective leader, Puneet reflects that his experience in the corporate world is to lead by example. “Leaders lead by example to drive teams, to be commercially driven, and to achieve operational excellence,” comments Puneet, who also highlights the importance of being customer orientated, and having measurable and quantifiable metrics. “During my career, I have learnt that most of my actions revolve around customer orientation, so it is important to strive for absolute customer-centric actions. It is also important to have measurable results and quantifiable key metrics to determine whether the project or the activities are a success or failure. If they are not going in the right direction, then take actions to correct them and so forth. So another key trait is clear communication.”

Contemplating the evolution of his own leadership style, Puneet says that one aspect is his love for meeting customers. “ When I meet customers, there is an immense learning experience that comes from customers in terms of meeting their expectations and developing products and solutions to meet their requirements in a cost-effective manner. Another aspect of my style is developing short term and long term visions at the start of every financial year and driving time into the action for implementation with regular feedback and monitoring. Last but not least, developing human capital with lots of training and timely coaching of individuals is another aspect.”

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Puneet Garg | CTO Enterprise, Smartfren Business