Satish Avhad, Consulting Partner, Global Practice Head – Wealth Management, SCM D&C, Wipro

With 18 years of experience in financial services, Satish Avhad stands as a towering figure in the realm of wealth management, exemplifying leadership and expertise that have propelled his wealth practice to global prominence and established him as top talent in the industry. His unparalleled knack for navigating the complex waters of global financial markets has allowed him to steer his team through challenges and opportunities alike, consistently delivering results that surpass expectations. Satish’s visionary approach to wealth management has not only driven substantial growth for his firms but has also established new benchmarks for success worldwide.

Since May 2022, Satish has served as a Management Consulting Partner at Wipro Limited, the India-based multinational consulting giant. He leads the Wealth Management practice for Domain and Consulting globally, responsible for the WM practice vision and strategy. Satish is expanding the practice by collaborating with global wealth management firms, supporting them in their digital transformation journeys, major platform implementations, and data-driven initiatives, including AI and GenAI.

Before joining Wipro, Satish spent nine years with EY in their Wealth and Asset Management group. There, he led teams, managed strategic technology projects, and served as a subject matter expert across the front, middle, and back-office operations of leading global financial firms. His roles have included Program Management and Product Management, and he has successfully executed platform implementations, including Blackrock Aladdin, Charles River CRIMS, SEI SWP, and Trust 3000. Satish has also ideated and developed AI-based solutions leveraging predictive analytics, natural language processing, and machine learning models. He earned his MBA in finance, a bachelor’s degree in computer science, and a bachelor’s degree in law from Mumbai University.

In an exclusive interview with CXO Outlook Magazine, Satish shared the most favorite aspects of his current role, insights on the key trends and developments in the IT consulting industry, the secret sauce behind his success, future plans, pearls of wisdom, and much more. The following excerpts are taken from the interview.

Hi Satish. What do you love the most about your current role?

In my current role, what captivates me the most is the multifaceted opportunity it presents, allowing me to engage deeply with aspects of leadership, innovation, and talent development. At the core, the chance to present thought leadership stands out significantly. This facet of my role enables me to not only share insights and forward-thinking perspectives but also to influence the direction of our industry in meaningful ways. It’s about crafting a vision for the future and working collaboratively to turn that vision into reality.

Leading from the front fearlessly is another aspect of my role that I find incredibly rewarding. It empowers me to set a precedent for courage and resilience, encouraging my team to navigate challenges with confidence and integrity. This leadership style fosters a culture of trust and accountability, where everyone feels valued and motivated to contribute their best.

The privilege of working with amazing talent is, without a doubt, one of the highlights of my role. Being surrounded by individuals who are not only exceptionally skilled but also passionately committed to our collective goals is truly inspiring. It creates an environment where innovation thrives, and learning is continuous. This dynamic is crucial for personal and professional growth, both for myself and for the team.

Lastly, the innovative edge that characterizes our work, especially in developing cutting-edge technological solutions for wealth management clients, is profoundly gratifying. It’s exhilarating to be at the forefront of technological advancements, pushing boundaries, and setting new standards. This not only ensures that we stay ahead in a highly competitive market but also guarantees that we are making a tangible difference in our clients’ lives by providing them with superior service and unparalleled expertise.

My current role is a blend of leadership, talent, and innovation, all geared towards making a significant impact in the wealth management sector. It’s this unique combination that I find most fulfilling, and it drives my passion and commitment every day.

What are some of the current trends and developments you’ve observed in the IT consulting industry recently?

In the rapidly evolving landscape of the IT consulting industry, particularly within the realm of wealth management, several key trends and developments have emerged, signaling a significant shift in how services are delivered, and value is created for clients. One of the most notable trends is the heightened focus on enhancing financial advisor productivity. Wealth management firms are increasingly leveraging advanced technologies and data analytics to empower their advisors, enabling them to offer more personalized and efficient services. This not only improves the client experience but also optimizes the advisor’s ability to manage their portfolios effectively, thereby increasing overall productivity and firm profitability.

Furthermore, there’s a growing emphasis on capturing the revenue potential from mass affluent clients. Wealth management firms are recognizing the importance of this segment and are strategically using technology to provide personalized services at scale. By harnessing the power of robo-advisors in conjunction with human expertise, firms can offer customized investment advice and financial planning services that were once only accessible to high-net-worth individuals. This democratization of financial services is a game-changer, expanding the market reach and providing growth opportunities for firms willing to innovate.

Beyond these trends, the IT consulting industry is also witnessing a surge in the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies. These technologies are not just transforming the way data is analyzed and insights are generated; they are also revolutionizing client interaction through the use of chatbots and AI-driven customer service platforms. This shift towards AI and ML is enabling firms to enhance operational efficiencies, reduce costs, and deliver a more personalized and engaging client experience.

Another critical development is the increasing importance of cybersecurity within the wealth management sector. As firms become more reliant on digital technologies, the need to protect sensitive financial information from cyber threats has never been more paramount. IT consulting firms are responding by developing more sophisticated cybersecurity solutions and strategies to safeguard client data, ensuring trust and compliance with regulatory requirements.

As we look to the future, it’s clear that technology will continue to play a pivotal role in shaping the wealth management landscape, offering exciting opportunities for growth and differentiation.

What key lessons have you learned that contributed to your personal growth and success?

Throughout my journey, several key lessons have profoundly contributed to my personal growth and success, shaping not only the leader I am today but also the individual I strive to be. One of the most critical lessons I’ve learned is the importance of 100% dedication to whatever task or project I undertake. This unwavering commitment has been the cornerstone of my work ethic, driving me to pursue excellence in every endeavor.

I’ve also come to understand that the greatest idea or the best intention amounts to nothing without a solid commitment to bring it to fruition. Ideas, no matter how revolutionary, require dedication and hard work to transform into tangible results. This realization has taught me the value of perseverance and the significance of translating vision into action.

Creating an atmosphere of trust within my team has been another pivotal lesson. Trust is the foundation upon which successful teams are built. It fosters an environment where individuals feel safe to express their ideas, take risks, and grow. This culture of trust has not only enabled my team to thrive but has also encouraged innovation and collaboration, driving our collective success.

Moreover, I have learned that failure is not defined by falling down but by the refusal to get up and fight again. Embracing failure as an integral part of the learning process has allowed me to view setbacks not as obstacles but as opportunities for growth and improvement. This perspective has been instrumental in navigating challenges and persevering through adversity.

Another vital lesson is the importance of being genuinely passionate about your work. Success is more fulfilling and sustainable when your work aligns with what you truly care about. This passion not only motivates you during challenging times but also inspires those around you, creating a shared sense of purpose and commitment.

I’ve also recognized that while no one likes to be managed, everyone longs to be included. Inclusion fosters a sense of belonging and significance among team members, encouraging them to contribute their best. By valuing everyone’s input and making inclusivity a priority, I’ve been able to harness the collective strengths and diverse perspectives of my team, leading to more innovative solutions and better outcomes.

These lessons have been instrumental in my personal and professional development. Dedication, commitment, trust, resilience, passion, and inclusivity are not just principles but the very fabric of my approach to leadership and life. They have guided me through challenges, shaped my decisions, and contributed significantly to my success.

You were recently recognized as one of the Top 25 Financial Services Consultants and Leaders of 2024. Our readers would love to know the secret sauce behind your success.

Being recognized as one of the Top 25 Financial Services Consultants and Leaders of 2024 is a tremendous honor that reflects not just my individual efforts but the collective hard work and dedication of my team. The journey to this point has been both challenging and rewarding, and if I were to distill the essence of my approach to success, it would revolve around several core principles.

First and foremost, I believe in nurturing the root to enjoy the fruits. This means focusing on the basics and core concepts of our industry. A deep understanding and mastery of fundamental principles provide a strong foundation upon which innovative solutions can be built. It’s about getting the fundamentals right, which in turn paves the way for excellence and innovation.

Passion is another critical ingredient in the recipe for success. Performing at a higher level and continuously striving for excellence requires not just skill, but a genuine passion for the work. This passion fuels persistence, inspires creativity, and drives the relentless pursuit of excellence.

Maintaining an open mind has also been pivotal. The financial services landscape is constantly evolving, and success requires adaptability and a willingness to learn and grow. By avoiding preconceived conclusions, I’ve been able to experience life and work more fully, embracing new ideas and approaches that have often led to breakthroughs.

Integrity and the ability to inspire others are qualities that naturally elevate one to a leadership position. Leading by example and fostering a culture of trust and respect are essential for building cohesive, high-performing teams. It’s about doing the right thing, and motivating others to achieve their best.

Proactively identifying problems and addressing them before they escalate is another strategy that has served me well. This forward-thinking approach helps in mitigating risks and ensures that we are always a step ahead, ready to adapt to changes swiftly.

Being part of the solution, not the problem, is a mantra I live by. It’s about adopting a constructive approach to challenges, focusing on solutions rather than dwelling on obstacles. This positive mindset is contagious and fosters an environment where innovation thrives.

Additionally, bringing out the best in others has been a key focus. Recognizing and nurturing the potential in each team member not only enhances individual performance but also elevates the team’s overall success. It’s about empowering others to reach their full potential.

I also believe that work should be an expression of love and joy. When you love what you do, it reflects in your work’s quality and impact. This passion is what drives me to push boundaries and pursue excellence relentlessly.

Understanding that your experience of life is 100% determined by you has empowered me to approach challenges fearlessly and utilize my full potential. This realization fosters a proactive and empowered approach to both personal and professional life.

Lastly, focusing on high-value tasks that enrich life while avoiding low-value distractions has been crucial. It’s about prioritizing activities that have the most significant impact and ensuring that every effort is directed towards meaningful goals.

The “secret sauce” behind my success is a blend of passion, integrity, continuous learning, proactive problem-solving, and a focus on bringing out the best in myself and others. It’s about loving what you do, doing it with excellence, and making a positive impact on the world around you.

Is there a particular person you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are?

Reflecting on my journey to where I stand today, I am deeply aware that it has been a collaborative voyage, enriched by the wisdom, support, and inspiration of numerous individuals. Life, in its essence, is a continuous learning process, and I have been fortunate to encounter many who have contributed significantly to my personal and professional growth.

At the very foundation of who I am today are my parents. They instilled in me the core principles of life, such as integrity, hard work, and a fighting spirit. These values have been my guiding stars, influencing every decision and action throughout my career. Their lessons have taught me not just to navigate the complexities of the professional world but also to remain grounded in my personal life.

My journey in the consulting world, particularly during my tenure at EY, was significantly shaped by numerous leaders and mentors. Among them, one mentor stands out for teaching me the importance of putting people and relationships ahead of results, transactions, and technology. This perspective has been instrumental in shaping my approach to leadership, emphasizing the value of human connections and the profound impact they have on achieving sustainable success.

Transitioning to Wipro introduced me to a new cadre of passionate and result-oriented leaders. Here, my current mentor has been a beacon of inspiration, embodying the growth mindset that is crucial in today’s ever-evolving business landscape. Under his guidance, I have honed my ability to grow the practice and business with a clear vision and strategy, mastering the art of operationalizing these plans to achieve tangible results. This mentorship has not only expanded my professional capabilities but also enriched my understanding of what it means to lead with vision and purpose.

My journey has been a tapestry woven from the contributions of many, each thread representing a lesson learned, a challenge overcome, or an insight gained. From the foundational values imparted by my parents to the professional acumen developed through mentors at EY and Wipro, each has played a pivotal role in shaping me into the leader I am today. For their wisdom, guidance, and unwavering support, I am profoundly grateful. Their influence has been a constant source of strength and inspiration, driving me to pursue excellence, foster meaningful relationships, and lead with integrity and vision.

What does the term “authentic leadership” mean to you?

To me, authentic leadership is far more than a management style—it’s a profound commitment to leading with integrity, purpose, and a deep sense of responsibility. It embodies the principle that leadership is not merely a job but a responsibility to those you lead, the organization, and the broader community. This philosophy is grounded in the belief that to be an effective leader, one must be genuine, transparent, and true to one’s values and beliefs.

At the heart of authentic leadership lies the golden rule: treat people how you want to be treated. This simple yet powerful tenet reminds us that leadership is inherently relational, and the success of our team is intrinsically linked to how we engage with and value each individual. There is no “I” in leader; our achievements are collective, and every milestone reached is a testament to the collaborative spirit and hard work of the entire team.

Building trust through transparency is another cornerstone of authentic leadership. Open and honest communication fosters a culture of trust, making it easier for team members to align with the organization’s vision and navigate challenges together. This transparency is crucial not only in times of success but also, and perhaps more importantly, during failures. Staying the course and being present, especially when things don’t go as planned, demonstrates resilience and commitment to your team, reinforcing their trust in your leadership.

Moreover, the culture within an organization is a direct reflection of how it’s led. As leaders, we are culture champions, tasked with nurturing an environment that reflects our core values and principles. This involves leading by example, embodying the behaviors and attitudes we wish to see in our team, and creating a space where everyone feels valued, understood, and inspired to contribute their best.

Authentic leadership also prompts us to reflect on our legacy—how we will be remembered by the people we worked with today. It encourages us to lead in a way that leaves a positive, lasting impact on those around us, fostering a culture of kindness, support, and mutual growth.

Helping others with no expectation of return is perhaps one of the most altruistic aspects of authentic leadership. It’s about recognizing that our success is deeply interconnected with the success of others. By lifting those around us, we create a ripple effect of positive change that extends far beyond our immediate circle, ultimately helping us achieve our goals and contributing to a more inclusive and supportive professional environment.

Authentic leadership is about leading with heart and conviction. It’s about being steadfast in our values, transparent in our actions, and compassionate in our interactions. By embodying these principles, we not only drive our organizations forward but also contribute to creating a more ethical, resilient, and collaborative professional landscape.

What are some of your passions outside of work? What do you like to do in your time off?

In the fast-paced world of corporate leadership, finding balance and maintaining personal well-being are paramount to not just surviving, but thriving. Outside of my professional commitments, I am deeply passionate about immersing myself in activities that not only rejuvenate my spirit but also keep me grounded and connected to the world around me. Nature, with its unparalleled beauty and serenity, plays a significant role in my life. I find solace and a unique sense of peace in being close to nature, whether it’s through hiking along scenic trails, tending to my garden, or simply spending time outdoors. These activities offer me a precious opportunity to disconnect from the digital world and reconnect with the earth, fostering a sense of inner calm and renewal.

In addition to my love for nature, I am a firm believer in the power of yoga and meditation. These practices are integral to my daily routine, helping me maintain a state of calmness and composure amidst the whirlwind of daily life. They are not just exercises for the body, but also for the mind, providing me with clarity, focus, and resilience. The discipline and mindfulness learned through yoga and meditation transcend into my professional life, enhancing my decision-making abilities and leadership qualities.

Music is another passion that holds a special place in my heart. It transcends language and has the power to evoke a wide range of emotions, from joy to introspection. I am an avid music enthusiast and seize every opportunity to attend concerts. These experiences not only allow me to appreciate the artistry and talent of the musicians but also serve as a source of inspiration and creativity in my own life. The energy and vibrancy of live music performances are truly exhilarating and offer a wonderful escape from the routine.

Family, undoubtedly, is my greatest passion. Spending quality time with my child, especially being actively involved in his sports and extracurricular activities, is something I cherish deeply. These moments are invaluable and provide a profound sense of fulfillment. Supporting and witnessing his growth, exploring his interests together, and fostering a nurturing environment for him to thrive in are priorities that I hold dear. It’s a beautiful journey that we embark on together, filled with learning, laughter, and love.

My passions outside of work—nature, yoga and meditation, music, and family—each play a pivotal role in shaping who I am, not just as a leader, but as a person. They provide a well-rounded perspective on life, enriching my experiences and enabling me to bring my best self to every endeavor, both professionally and personally.

What is your biggest goal? Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?

In contemplating the future and setting my sights on the horizon, I firmly believe that having a clear vision and well-defined goals are instrumental in transcending current limitations and propelling oneself towards greater achievements. My overarching goal is to significantly expand my managerial and strategic oversight within the business, moving beyond my current scope of work to embrace a larger portion of our operations and strategy. This ambition is not just about scaling professional heights but also about deepening my understanding of the business, enhancing my ability to lead effectively, and contributing more substantially to our collective success. Over the next five years, I see myself in a position where my decisions and leadership directly influence the broader trajectory of our company, driving innovation, fostering a culture of excellence, and steering our team towards achieving our shared objectives.

However, my aspirations extend beyond the professional realm. I am equally committed to the goal of becoming a better human being. This personal ambition is intertwined with my professional goals, as I believe that personal growth fuels professional excellence. To me, being a better human involves cultivating empathy, integrity, and resilience—qualities that are indispensable for authentic leadership. It also means committing to continuous learning, both in terms of acquiring new skills and deepening my understanding of the world and the people around me. This dual focus on professional expansion and personal development is central to my vision for the future.

My biggest goal is to achieve a harmonious blend of professional growth and personal enrichment. Five years from now, I envision myself not only as a more influential leader within my organization but also as a more compassionate, well-rounded individual. I am convinced that this holistic approach to growth will enable me to make more meaningful contributions to my company, my community, and the broader industry.

What advice would you give to somebody who is considering entering your field or has just entered the field?

Embarking on a career in the wealth management industry can be both exhilarating and daunting. It is a field that not only demands a high level of expertise and dedication but also offers immense opportunities for those willing to navigate its complexities. For individuals considering entering this dynamic sector or those who have recently embarked on this professional journey, I would like to offer some advice that I believe is crucial for success.

First and foremost, focus on domain specialization. The wealth management industry is vast, with numerous niches and specialties. While it might be tempting to explore various domains, gaining deep expertise in a specific area can be far more beneficial. Specialization allows you to become an authority in your chosen niche, offering greater value to your clients and setting you apart from your peers. Therefore, resist the urge to keep switching between domains and instead, invest your time and resources in mastering one.

Being curious and open to learning is another critical aspect of building a successful career. The financial landscape is constantly evolving, with new products, regulations, and technologies emerging regularly. Staying informed and adaptable is key. Cultivate a habit of continuous learning, whether through formal education, self-study, or practical experience. This mindset will not only keep you ahead of industry trends but also enable you to provide innovative solutions to your clients.

Additionally, staying in touch with industry trends and key activities across firms is essential. The wealth management sector is highly interconnected, and developments in one area can have ripple effects across the industry. By keeping abreast of these changes, you can anticipate shifts in the market, adapt your strategies accordingly, and advise your clients with foresight and confidence.

Lastly, be fearless and maintain a solution-oriented mindset. Challenges and obstacles are inevitable in any career, but they are particularly prevalent in the fast-paced world of wealth management. Approach these hurdles with courage and a focus on finding solutions. This proactive attitude will not only help you overcome difficulties but also inspire confidence in your clients and colleagues.

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