Leadership Reflections with Ganesh K.

  • Source: Article
  • Article Date: 26/10/2017
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Group ICT’s Head of Strategic Products and Services Governance (SPSG) Ganesh Kanagarajah comes across as calm and composed, and his colleagues regarded him as a true professional.

Ganesh double-hatted as the Head of the Group Information Security and Risk Management (GISRM) division from 2014 until early this year, which was no mean feat.

Despite his hectic work schedule, it did not deter him from keeping an active personal life. He spends his free time traversing the uncharted, harsh terrain of the Malaysian forests via 4 x 4 off-road vehicles, which helps re-energise his mind. This, he shared, is what keeps him level-headed when dealing with work and life pressures. In addition to that, the interest, which began as a recreation and fun activity, turned into an opportunity for him to give back to communities.

“My friends and I, who belong to a 4 x 4 off-road group, work closely with the Malaysian Red Crescent and some other NGOs that need off-road vehicles to transport provisions such as food and medical supplies, doctors and nurses to communities that have been cut off due to floods or landslides and Orang Asli settlements deep in the jungle. … We do this on a voluntary basis,” said Ganesh.​

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Every two months Ganesh and his group of friends will drive up to rural areas to transport and distribute food and medical supplies to the villagers. This is a photo during their trip to Pos Simpor, Gua Musang.

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The 4 x 4 off-road group that Ganesh is a part of, often works with the Malaysian Red Crescent to deliver food supplies to poor villagers in Kampung Peta in Taman Negara, Johor.

The group actively collaborates with humanitarian workers, corporate and individual philanthropists to identify underprivileged communities in remote rural areas and their needs. Every two months, the group – who does this for free – will drive up to these rural places to transport and distribute donations to the underprivileged.

Find Your Passion

Ganesh graduated from Mississippi State University, United States of America with a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering, but became involved in Information Technology (IT) during his first job at the University.

Since then, Ganesh has developed a solid career in information management system. He views it only as a hobby rather than a career, and he feels that this perspective has given him a different kind of experience.

Ganesh found passion in his work and continuously reassess the IT environment to look for areas to improve. This is extremely important for those in the information security field, particularly in large companies where there are thousands of “doors” that need to be secured from malicious intent.

In most instances, the weakest link in information security is the people, so the more employees you have, the higher the risk of breach in information security. Therefore, while it helps to have the right strategies, solutions and technology in place, you need to have a group of people who are driven and passionate to make sure these things work.

His passion for IT has also encouraged him to participate as a speaker in information management and cyber security forums since 2000. Although it started as an avenue to network and improve his speaking skills, stepping up to these opportunities have allowed him to share his knowledge with his peers in the industry.

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“I learnt a lot from the organisations that I have worked in and it is a waste to not share this knowledge with anyone else. These days, I try to speak more at local forums because there is a gap in the local industry that should be given more attention. So I’m sharing my knowledge to help bridge this gap,” said Ganesh.

On his opinion about the stereotypes of the IT unit in an organisation as an order-taking team rather than a strategic one, Ganesh related that some companies prefer to outsource IT services because it is not critical to their core business.

Previously, PETRONAS outsourced IT services to third-party vendors because it was what made sense at that point in time. Today, as a wholly-owned subsidiary, PETRONAS ICT is a strategic IT function within the Group that provides the direction for a company’s information, communication and technology needs.

Group ICT is an example of a strategic IT setup that works closely with the business when it comes to investments in ICT. “Whatever Group ICT does, we do it with an understanding of the business’ requirements. PETRONAS has a very complex environment – the sheer size and diverse needs of technology within such a large corporation that has a combination of centralised and decentralised systems demands a different level of attention and care,” added Ganesh.

In view of the PETRONAS digital journey, SPSG has started the necessary legwork to map out the organisation’s various technology plans into a more business-centric ICT strategy. Indeed, quite a number of PETRONAS’ current technology initiatives have already been aligned to this digital strategy.

Ganesh elaborated that SPSG’s role in this journey is to link these digital strategies with one another – for example, between the Group level theme of “Collaborate, Pace and Go Digital” and Group ICT’s Going Digital and journey to be a world-class ICT organisation.

“As the digital enabler for PETRONAS, how does Group ICT translate the various initiatives into something that’s beneficial and valuable to the business? Are the various channels that collaborate in this environment working effectively? Are we keeping up with the changes and using the latest capabilities?

SPSG needs to map out this information to provide the Group a clear view of how far we are in our journey. From there, we can identify what else we need to do to reach our goal of becoming a world-class organisation,” said Ganesh.

On teamwork, Ganesh expects his team to work with passion and integrity. He believes that a dependable, dedicated and valuable employee is someone with a strong moral principle and passionate in whatever he or she does.
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​​“As a leader, I can create an opportunity for [my team] ... work they can focus on, which would make up 20 per cent of their success. The other 80 per cent should come from their own effort to turn the opportunity into success.”
He also advises that one should also achieve a good work-life balance and have the opportunity to pursue one’s passion in order to re-energise and help one cope with life’s pressure, just as Ganesh has found with his interest in 4 x 4 off road and volunteer activities.

Ganesh believes that integrity and passion for what you do is essential for anyone to be successful in their personal life and career. 

“Paper qualifications get you through the door but that’s about it. For an IT job in general, theoretical knowledge only goes so far. In order to become successful, we need to have practical knowledge and know how to apply this knowledge, as well as problem-solving capability. We need a little bit of passion and drive. Otherwise, it is not sustainable,” Ganesh concluded.


Profile: Ganesh Kanagarajah joined PETRONAS ICT in 2010 as the Head of the Group Information Security and Risk Management division. He is now the Head of Strategic Products and Services Governance (SPSG), accountable for the governance of PETRONAS' strategic ICT products and services. In SPSG, Ganesh provides strategic leadership in directing and formulating overall ICT strategies for optimal landscape and architecture, cost, capability development, and effective ICT governance for PETRONAS. Bringing in more than 20 years of experience working with leading organisations, namely Maxis, Star Cruises and Maybank, Ganesh has held diverse technical and management roles in various IT disciplines. He has a Master of Science in Business Administration (Information System) in Business Administration, and Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering (Computing System) in Engineering from Mississippi State University.