Sanjib Sahoo: A Transformative, Growth-Minded Leader

Transformation is inevitable for a business if it is to survive and thrive in changing times. Most companies and leaders view digital transformation as turning to technology and machines instead of relying on human resources alone. However, true digital transformation isn’t about the technology and machines alone.

For Sanjib Sahoo, EVP and CDO, of Ingram Micro, embracing the spirit of digitization is foundational to a company’s digital journey. The mindset of the leaders and the organization must be aligned and they must recognize that the ongoing effort is less about the TECH and more about the TEAM.

One of Sanjib’s guiding best practices for transformation done right is “Innovation first, adoption second doesn’t work. Transformation must be continuous as it is a journey in digitizing operations to create and capture value for everyone.”

According to Sanjib, digital transformation starts with transforming people and ends with transforming brands. He believes that the DNA of tomorrow’s most successful brands will be aggressively digital and amazingly human. And to succeed we must “start with the why and grow stronger with each wow.”

Walking the Talk

Sanjib is of the firm belief that companies need to turn their short-term digital transformation projects into long-term digital fitness. As the CDO at Ingram Micro, he has ensured this belief is translated into action for the company’s growth. He has introduced Digital Fitness Consortiums, which involve having departmental leaders collaborate on improving the organization’s digital fitness by creating a framework to measure its ‘digital BMI index.’ The idea of Digital Fitness Consortium has been adopted by companies – including Ingram Micro – to create a culture that is constantly innovating and improving how technology is leveraged and deployed in the organization.

As EVP and CDO of Ingram Micro, Sanjib is leading the global digitization. He has also introduced Idea, Process, and Technology (IPT) Hackathons at organizations. IPT hackathons stand out from other hackathons in three ways: they are cross-functional, they happen frequently, and they create value. The leadership team identifies a list of business challenges and distributes these problems to cross-functional teams. For the next one to two days, these teams do problem-solving, co-creation activities and come up with tangible deliverables which are presented to a group of company leaders. The winning solutions are greenlighted.

Transforming An Industry

Sanjib is leading the global digitization of a $50 billion company that touches more than 90% of the world’s population and is the business behind today’s leading and emerging technology brands. Ingram Micro helps its partners and customers do more, sell more, and grow more. They are committed to mutual success and profitability and are changing the value of technology distribution at scale.

“The people within Ingram Micro – throughout the entire organization – are incredible and together we have brought to life Ingram Micro Xvantage, our digital twin, and are changing how Ingram Micro and the distribution technology industry creates and captures value,” shares Sanjib.

An Ingenious Leader

Sanjib’s professional career began in financial services, where he learned how to use technology to navigate the challenges of the industry at companies including Citibank, Deutsche Bank, and Charles Schwab. Then, he became CIO & CTO at TradeMONSTER, now E*TRADE, where he led execution for the first-of-its-kind online trading platform resulting in consistent revenue growth. He went on to become CIO at one of the world’s top 10 logistics company and once again used his methodologies to digitally transform the provider.

Sanjib joined Ingram Micro in 2021, marking the start of his ground-breaking efforts to transform yet another industry with the development and global adoption of the leader’s digital twin Ingram Micro Xvantage.

Sanjib’s working style is about enabling the people around him to be the best they can be, professionally and personally. He believes that extraordinary things are built by ordinary people willing to expend extraordinary effort. The highlights of his career have involved inspiring positive change and greatness in people’s lives where they can keep on challenging their limits.

“It’s important to stay true to my core values of integrity in everything I represent, curiosity for everything I want to know, ingenuity in everything I create, and above all, humility in everything I do,” asserts Sanjib.

Handling Challenges

In life and business, Sanjib feels that our greatest challenges can be our best opportunities. “I do not limit my challenges. I challenge my limits. I didn’t set out to be a Chief Digital Officer. However, I wanted to be a leader of substance and leave an impact in everything I did,” he says.

Sanjib is a constant learner and after serving as CTO, CIO for many years he went back to school, to Harvard, to attain more knowledge – this time in business management. Now he creates and captures value from a technical and business perspective.

The other challenge starts with the dynamic nature of technology is something that Sanjib believes to be related to people’s mindset rather than the technology itself. Transformation starts with people, he asserts. The employee experience is the customer experience.

“You must start with your employees. Constant communication and collaboration are increasingly important. Remember, innovation first, adoption second doesn’t work,” he asserts.

He points out that most digital transformations fail because companies and leaders fail to address two things: 1) the cultural transformation needed and 2) the opportunity to capture and create true business value.

“The team must embrace design thinking. Listen to your employees and your customers. Have a bias for action and become an experience-driven organization – less transacting and more interacting with customers,” shares Sanjib. “They must continue to perform while transforming.”

A Celebrated Leader

An alumnus of Harvard Business School, Sanjib brings a unique combination of business acumen and technical prowess. He holds several patents for data and streaming technologies. He is an industry thought leader, a contributor to Harvard Business Review, Wired, Forbes, and also a TED and NASSCOM speaker.

A man with a perpetually positive outlook, Sanjib always sees the glass as half full. “Some people see the glass as half empty and feel sorry for themselves. See the positive in every situation and seize the opportunity. Be your own CEO. I learned this attitude from my mother, and it has always helped me face the hardest of times with optimism and faith,” he says.

Sanjib has also won more than two dozen awards including:

· AsiaOne Global Person of the Year (2023)

· High Flyers 50 – Global Achievers Award High Flyers 50 – Issued by High Flyers 50 · Dec 2022

· Pride of India – Issued by Global Eye magazine · Dec 2022

· Top 10 Most Influential Business Leader of 2022 – Issued by India Alert- Times of India · Nov 2022

· Global Icon for Technology (Issued by Economic Times · Aug 2022)

· ET Leadership Awards by Times Group – Demonstrating as Global Icon for Technology

He also won the Indian Achievers Award 2022 – Issued by Indian Achievers Forum in Jul 2022. Hailed as one of India’s most coveted professional accolades, the Indian Achievers’ Award honors extraordinary accomplishments by groups and individuals who have a direct or indirect influence on India’s socioeconomic well-being.

He was also named to the Global Business Transformation Top 150 for 2020 – issued by Constellation Research June 2020. The BT150 recognizes the world’s most influential executives across a variety of industries, including entertainment, financial services, healthcare, higher education, pharmaceuticals, public sector, retail, and sports, to name a few.

The Future is Bright

The future of growth for Ingram Micro, shares Sanjib, lies with its people and the experience they deliver to the customers and partners. They are transforming into a platform business with the introduction and adoption of Ingram Micro Xvantage. They are bringing a B2C “Netflix-like” experience to the B2B tech industry and they are doing it on a global basis.

Sanjib signs off with the following advice for budding entrepreneurs:

“Work to be your own CEO. This means being accountable for everything you do. Don’t wait for others to make things happen – always be moving forward and get comfortable being imperfectly

perfect because innovation is more about how you deal with imperfection rather than striving for perfection.

Think as if you are the ‘Chief Value Officer.’ Focus everything on value because shiny technology without value is useless.

Most importantly, focus on the people on your team. Transformation doesn’t happen TO your team but WITH your team. Connect with and care for your team. Create a culture that listens to understand, solicits feedback, and encourages a bias for action.”

Quote: Learn to be imperfectly perfect.