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UAE Exchange - IT Executive of the Year

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Company: UAE Exchange, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Company Description: UAE Exchange commenced its operations in 1980 and has grown into a leading global remittance, foreign exchange and payment solutions brand. Headquartered in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, the brand has spread its footprint worldwide. With close to 800 branches across 28 countries in 5 continents, it has emerged as the widest globally networked remittance brand.
Nomination Category: Information Technology Categories
Nomination Sub Category: IT Executive of the Year

Nomination Title: Surendra Shetty, Chief Information Officer of UAE Exchange

Tell the story about what this nominee has achieved since January 2016 (up to 650 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms.

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” - John C. Maxwell

That is what Surendra Shetty has been demonstrating to his team for more than two years now at UAE Exchange, the leading global remittance, foreign exchange and payment solutions brand. Heading the role of Chief Information Officer (CIO) currently, he has been playing a pivotal role in driving the brand’s digital transformation, along with strengthening and enhancing the technological architecture of the organisation.

Fondly known as Suren in the organisation, his key strength lies in building technology from scratch. And ironically his journey at UAE Exchange as Chief Technology Officer in December 2014 started with that. His primary responsibility was to successfully integrate the technology infrastructure and processes of the group’s sister companies – UAE Exchange and Travelex. Since then, he has been building a synergy and ensuring seamless technology integration between UAE Exchange and its newly acquired companies.

In February 2016, Suren was appointed as CIO. Since his ascension to the role, he has transformed the Information Technology (IT) department into a center of excellence. He restructured the multi-diverse team into six sub-units based on each team member’s strength - Application Development, Infrastructure Management, Process Re-engineering, IT Risk, IT Asset Management and IT Project Management Office – to establish optimal efficiency. The introduction of Project Managers, Relationship Managers and Business Analysts into the team has significantly contributed in streamlining the processes, and managing the increasing complex technical requirements and technology initiatives needed for the operational growth of the organisation.

But it was the new data centre initiative in January 2017 that laid the foundation for the brand’s digital journey. With emphasis on digitisation and meeting the evolving needs of the dynamic customers, Suren and his team embarked on ‘Technology Infrastructure – Future Proofing’ initiative that uses IT in a strategic and innovative way to augment business initiatives. It was aimed at consolidating and migrating two humongous data centres into an advanced single data centre. Built on software defined networks with three layered topology and a strict boundary protection across the security zones, the advanced Tier3 Data Centre at UAE Exchange is a state-of-the-art solution. It provides its customers and employees with a seamless qualitative experience across various processes.

A perfectionist by nature, Suren believes that People, Process, Technology and Quality are equally important for the growth of any organisation. His vast knowledge, technical expertise and rich experience of 20 years in the technology arena, with organizations of varying magnitude, has enabled his team of 400 IT professionals to design and implement innovative solutions that brings security and convenience to all stakeholders (internal and external).

Under the tutelage of Suren, the team has steadily adopted various technology and designed solutions for both customers and employees. An advanced IT infrastructure, lower operational cost, faster processing time at retail counters are few examples.

He also successfully led and aligned the team in accelerating the major transformations in the digital journey of UAE Exchange through:

-gocash contactless wearables (customers can attach it to any of their wearable item and securely pay on the go).
-Smart Pay mobile exchange (a first-of-its-kind initiative in the UAE that brings salaries to the doorsteps of the customers).
-Digital and Emirates Identification integration in the UAE that allows accurate customer information via the Know Your Customer (KYC) norms.
-Introducing digital initiatives like new mobile apps (gocash and Travza), refining existing mobile app (M2A) and adding new security features into the pre-paid cards (Smart Pay and gocash).

In bullet-list form, briefly summarize up to ten (10) accomplishments of the nominee since the beginning of 2016 (up to 150 words).

-Effectively contributed towards smooth technology integration during mergers and acquisitions.
-A strong catalyst in the development of Next generation application architecture to enable future proofing of the core platforms.
-Successfully rolled out the brand’s core Remittance Platform to the acquired organization thus enabling the efficient model of global application.
-Created IT Risk role to ensure the compliance of technology to internal and external audits and regulations.
-Lead the team to refine the Software development lifecycle to ensure the quality of delivery across global operations.
-Completely transformed the in-house technology team into a collaborative unit with qualified technology partners, thus, creating scalable sourcing models.
-Initiated various initiatives including Incident Management, Problem Management process and Project Management governance.
-One of the lead architects for the design and delivery of the new data center that reduced operational cost and contributed towards greener operations.