Q&A with Ashok Kumar, Centre Director, Singapore e-Government Leadership Centre

As an individual of many experiences in the IT industry, Ashok Kumar Seetharaman has evolved from a pure IT technologist and applications development background to a transformation specialist. Being the Centre Director of the Singapore e-Government Leadership Centre (eGL), he is involved in designing, leading, and leading consulting and capacity building programmes for national level digital government transformations.

INNOVATE@ISS had a chance to talk with Ashok to learn more about his industry-related experiences and his passion for teaching.

  1. Please tell us about your professional background

    I started my work as a Lecturer in the college I graduated from in India. I then worked in India for International Computers Limited (ICL) UK, automating Insurance and Manufacturing industry. As an IT professional, I moved to Hong Kong to explore Banking and Government sector. I landed in Singapore 27 years ago, where I evolved from a pure IT technologist and applications development background to a transformation specialist. I built a holistic experience by participating in the projects that included designing, leading and managing national level government transformations. These projects were from both, Government and service providers. I designed and implemented e-commerce engines to facilitate supply chain for electronics and shipping industries.

    I took on the role of Asia Pacific leadership with Hewlett Packard, managing resources around the region and leveraging on global network of experts to deliver projects. This was an enriching experience.

    Credit goes to great mentors, guides in the form of my immediate supervisors, my colleagues and my customers. Throughout my professional career, I have learnt valuable skills, competencies that has helped me to develop and grow.

    Learning and growing (up) still continues!

  2. Could you share more about the modules/courses which you teach at NUS-ISS?

    More than teaching, I listen and learn. To quote Dalai Lama, “When you talk, you are repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new”.

    I facilitate learning on topics such as Digital Government Transformation and Leadership, Public Service Innovation, Leading and Managing Projects, Smart City and soft skills.

    The objective is to Inspire the audience and equip them with knowledge such that they can Lead and Transform their respective domains to deliver service innovation and excellence.

  3. Why did you choose to teach at NUS-ISS?

    Universities are temples of knowledge and cascading it to develop individual and institutional capacity is divine.  NUS-ISS is no exception.

  4. What do you enjoy most about your work?

    When Passion and Profession converges, it is Nirvana. At eGL, NUS-ISS, I discovered such convergence and thus my work is my enjoyment! It is a source of pride and eternal satisfaction.

    Meeting dynamic leaders and smart public service officers from around the globe is enriching. Very fascinating to learn how they accomplish change, drive projects, lead transformation and innovate to improve citizen’s lives, sustain environment and drive economic competitiveness, despite challenges and constraints.

  5. How do you keep up with the industry?

    By being a part of the industry! Participating in seminars, networking, undertaking consulting assignments, constantly interacting with them. Importantly listening, observing and learning from these interactions and engagements.

  6. What are your favorite activities when you are not working?

    I like listening to flute and percussion classical Asian music.

    Thomas Hardy’s ‘Far From the Madding Crowd’ is my favourite novel and amongst others, I relish Jeffery Archer’s books.

    Traveling is great fun and learning about people, their history and culture is enriching. Michael Palin’s “Around the world in 80 days” has been a great source of inspiration.

  7. Tell us something about yourself that very few people know.

    Cricket is my favourite game and I used to be wicket-keeper for my school and college team.

    I used to paint and I realise that helps me now to appreciate the beautiful world of nature and its elaborate, sophisticated colours. Stunning shades of green in the woods, subtly cajoling with the sun, water and bright coloured flowers nourishes my soul.

For more information on the Singapore e-Government Leadership Centre, click here