Thought Leadership Series: A Discussion with Sankar Krishnan, Author, Thought Leader, Fintech, Career Banker...

About Capgemini

The KeeperAI team recently had a wide-ranging discussion with Sankar Krishnan, a friend, mentor and early supporter of KeeperAI’s platform and vision. We talked about the future of work, the importance of putting people first and the significance of innovative tools like KeeperAI.

Sankar is also an Executive Vice President at Capgemini, one of the World’s leaders in tech services helping Fortune 500 companies build the future they want. Given his interesting background, he’s seen a thing or two. When he speaks, his clients and colleagues listen — and so did we.

Q: Thank you for being here with us, Sankar. To get us started, can you tell us a little bit about how you first learned about KeeperAI?

Sankar: At one of the fintech conferences I attended I met with Vishal Ahluwalia (known to me from his UBS, Credit Suisse and JPMC days) and his Co-founder Dean Granzino and I was fascinated with the unique business model that Vishal wanted to build that brought together the digital natives with their enterprise and created a futuristic economic model.

Q: We did a little research prior to our meeting. How did you go from being an accountant to being an EVP at one of the largest consulting firms on earth?

Sankar: In the 1980s in India, you had to choose very early on whether your chosen field of study was Engineering, Medical or the Chartered Accountancy option. My grandfather was smarter than most of us so he used some high end analytics and recommended this option given the chances of getting into engineering or medicine into a good school was not that high.. Besides everybody in the family was an engineer or doctor so he felt being a Chartered Accountant had the highest probability of success and those days you didn’t question the logic of the elders.

From there I just followed my heart and that took me to Price Waterhouse, Standard Chartered, Citi and now Capgemini. I also had the opportunity to work at a Fintech and eventual M&A. I guess most of it is luck but some aspects of me (wish we had keeperai then) in terms of my preference to be part of people around dynamic organizations helped me to some extent.

“I am fortunate to work at Capgemini which is playing a critical role in enabling clients build the future they want. Our main advice is to keep the future digital state simple and technology proof that for clients at the same time reducing the cost of their legacy technology. To do this we deploy an optimum combination of people, process and technology. As you can see our CEO and his leadership have made “People” as front and central to anything we do.”

Sankar Krishnan, Executive Vice President at Capgemini

Q: Bartending? Tell us what inspired you to go to bartending school.

Sankar: I was fascinated with the way in which you can combine different liquids and produce a
better outcome . In all honesty, I was not as fast as the younger kids who continue to impress me even today. Remember the mobile phone was not omnipresent as it is now, so you had to commit the various cocktails to memory and not get it wrong.

Q: At KeeperAI, the new digital work landscape and new ways of working and of helping people connect are top of mind. How early on in your career did you start to think about the concept of the digital workplace and or “new ways of working”?

Sankar: I first got introduced to the concept of a digital marketplace during the ERP revolution in the early 90’s where the world was supposedly going in the direction of marketplaces. We were all envisaging a vertical auto marketplace , an energy marketplace, a retail marketplace and so on and Citi had a brilliant strategy then on how to be in the “intel inside” inside these marketplaces and so a lot of work on payment gateways and such was done . These initiatives did not take off then and we are back in 2021 talking about marketplaces and how financial services will serve the marketplace except that with the likes of Amazon this is closer to reality now than ever. Also with the fall of the Taliban (the first time) and the financial sector reform that followed you almost thought if the marketplace was a reality then one can help with Post war reconstruction effort in several countries around the World.

Fastforward all of that to today where digital natives are increasingly only transacting in digital marketplaces for esports to egaming to telemedicine to etherapy to ticketmaster to rideshare to grubhub – especially post covid we clearly see that a digital workplace is front and center to survival. There is no other way.

Q: Your passion for digital solutions shines through in your book “The Power of Mobile Banking.” The book was written during the advent of mobile banking. What lessons do you think still apply now that mobile banking has come a long way?

Sankar: Mobile has moved from being a “disruptor” to an “essential” to life to go on , it is a need and not a want. Increasingly given the convergence happening cross industry the mobile is an enabler of life as we know it. Mobile will continue to transform life as we know it.

Q: Today in your role at Capgemini, you serve as a thought leader and advisor to some of the largest financial institutions in the marketplace. Can you give us a sampling of the advice you give your clients?

Sankar: I am fortunate to work at at Capgemini which is playing a critical role in enabling clients build the future they want. Our main advice is to keep the future digital state simple and technology proof that for clients at the same time reducing the cost of their legacy technology. To do this we deploy an optimum combination of people, process and technology. As you can see our CEO and his leadership have made “People” as front and central to anything we do.

Always put people first

The global pandemic triggered a seismic shift for companies large and small and forced every single person on earth to re-think every aspect of their daily routines. It was uncharted territory, even for seasoned digital evangelists like Sankar and Fortune 500 companies at the forefront of digital transformations like Capgemini. There is one stand-out lesson for businesses and enterprises, though: put people first and your business will thrive.

Q: What surprised you the most about the pandemic?

Sankar: It was something that we didn’t think would move so fast and last this long. We had to get to a WFH situation around the world in 48 hours. One had to act fast and now to do the best for the clients whatever the contract said and our clients were extremely supportive of what we did together. The number of curfews around the world were an all time high and we had to ensure we kept the lights on and supported our employees and our clients and their employees. All that said it was extremely gratifying to see the speed at which a “people organization” like us could move forward with speed and velocity.

Q: Between your role within Capgimini and your client advisory role, it seems that you were at the intersection of and bore witness to a massive amount of change. What was the biggest lesson for you?

Sankar: People are the greatest asset to any organization and when you have the best talent everything else is possible.

Q: Building and maintaining human connection is vital, especially in this new digital work environment. Given the lessons learned during the pandemic, in your opinion, what value can a tool like KeeperAI bring to a company’s digital workplace toolkit?

Sankar: Leveraging AI for better talent management and outcomes is the future of work.  AI is also super crucial to foster a sense of “team” and will need to ensure that nobody gets left out . Soft skills especially are so crucial to attracting the smarter digital natives who for example don’t believe in the need to go to college as they want to join the workforce . Tracking behaviours using AI is also emerging as important tool to have an inclusive society.

Final Word

We are, of course, grateful for the time that Sankar lent to us and appreciate him allowing us to pick his brain a bit. Our conversation with Sankar was illuminating and yet another reminder that we at KeeperAI are on to something big.

Look for more of these convos with industry executives and thought leaders on our site and on our LinkedIn page.

Capgemini is a global leader in partnering with companies to transform and manage their business by harnessing the power of technology. The Group is guided everyday by its purpose of unleashing human energy through technology for an inclusive and sustainable future. It is a responsible and diverse organization of 290,000 team members in nearly 50 countries. With its strong 50 year heritage and deep industry expertise, Capgemini is trusted by its clients to address the entire breadth of their business needs, from strategy and design to operations, fueled by the fast evolving and innovative world of cloud, data, AI, connectivity, software, digital engineering and platforms. The Group reported in 2020 global revenues of €16 billion. More at