By Aryaan Parwez

My work is my hobby: TCS’ Dinanath KholkarDinanath Kholkar is originally from Goa but grew up mostly in Mumbai. He completed the entirety of his education in Mumbai. “In a way, I was lucky as compared to some of the other people who moved from one place to another. I was pretty much at one location throughout my education days”, he said.

Kholkar did his schooling at St. Thomas High School in Goregaon, higher secondary at Mithibai College, Vile Parle, and engineering from VJTI Matunga (one of the oldest engineering institutes of India). “A very interesting thing about VJTI is that when IITs were started, Dr. Kelkar from VJTI contributed to the effort along with F C Kohli of Tata Electric”, he explained. Kholkar used to be the topper in class and is still connected to his friend circle throughout his school life.

When asked about some anecdotes from his school life, he explained that how he and his friends used to figure out ways to play sports outside, mainly cricket. “Four years of college with a group of 60 was quite a journey in college.” Their group is still very well connected, never lost touch with one another, and is a part of his extended family. They still attend one another’s events regularly.

Kholkar’s father was a finance executive of Roussel Pharmaceuticals and also was an insurance agent and a financial advisor to many of his colleagues. Mother was a homemaker. “She’s an amazing cook and did a lot of sacrifices to ensure that I can get the education supported that I needed”, he adds.

Early Career and leadership lessons

Kholkar graduated in 1989 and got placed in HCL. This was his first job. ”My joining date was in November. They had dates in June and November,” he expressed explaining how during his waiting phase he got bored and called up the HCL Mumbai office and started working there four months before his joining date. He wanted to work in the R&D department of HCL in Chennai, but instead joined TCS after being advised by two close friends and the rest as they say is history. He has been with TCS for over 31 years now.

Kholkar’s father was the first person he ever looked up to and was inspired by. Belonging from a rural background, his father had struggled a lot in a period when Goa was under the rule of the Portuguese. Through all the hardships, his father was able to travel to Mumbai and required a passport for the same (Before the liberation of Goa, a passport was necessary to travel to different states). Another influence on him were his relatives. “In my student days, when I was growing up, I had my cousins who were either an engineer, doctor, or and had Ph.D. They were role models and I spend time with them and learned a lot. My Bhabhi had a Ph.D. in microbiology and worked in cancer research. They have all influenced me immensely” he says.

The competitive spirit during his engineering days inspired him to excel and do better. Dr. Daruwala, his professor was like a friend to his class and brought a lot of meaning to what they wanted to do. “He shaped us up in a way such that we could lay a strong foundation for our professional career” Dina exclaimed. He further explained how TCS helped his journey of excellence.

“TCS as an organization is an institution, we had some phenomenal leaders”, he explained. “F C Kohli, Ramadorai, Chandra (N Chandrasekaran), and Rajesh (Gopinathan), the leadership quality they have is one of the many types of things that we could learn from them. I have worked closely with Chandra for over 20 years and I have learned so much from him, his ability to lead, understand the customer, and see different opportunities”, he adds.

But the one person that left a significant impact on him was Dr. F C Kohli. Unfortunately, he did not get the opportunity to work directly with him at TCS, but was fortunate to get the opportunity to work on some of his community initiatives on the Adult Literacy program and Engineering education.

During the years 2016-2020, he regularly interacted with him and realized how passionate Mr. Kohli was for the country and had inspired him to contribute to the country by taking technology to the farming community. “His vision for the country, the type of things he did were simply amazing”, Dina explained. At Pune, Kholkar got the opportunity to work closely with Dr. Raghunath Anant Mashelkar, one of India’s premier scientists and is well known in the world of science. “He knows my area of work and invites me to be part of some of the initiatives”, he said.

“One has to be fortunate to have blessings of such people and have always looked up to all of them”, Kholkar expressed. He has also learned a lot about people management skills from three of his women managers. “I learned a lot from them, on their empathy towards the people, how to care for the team and balance between home and work”, he adds.

His Biggest Achievements

My work is my hobby: TCS’ Dinanath KholkarOne of his biggest achievements was during the time TCS acquired e-Serve from Citibank in 2008. He took over as the CEO and MD of that company in 2010. “It was a tough time during those days because it was just after the global financial crisis. Integrating such a large organization, mostly bankers and financial services operations experts, collaborating with the larger TCS of mostly IT lineage, was an interesting challenge. I felt that I did a decent job of managing that acquisition. In those days it was the largest acquisition done by an Indian IT company, and we were able to deliver the business case two years ahead of what was planned. It was very satisfying”, he explained.

Other than that, Kholkar used to manage a very large investment banking account for TCS, it was recognized as the best-managed account in TCS, was part of it for 7 years, and led it for 4 years. He has also been involved with National Stock Exchange and RBI programs, “During those times it was big transformations for India. You feel very proud about having contributed to the transformation of the financial systems of India. I was the chief architect for the RBI PDO NDS program”, he said.

Apart from work, at Pune, he has been actively volunteering with IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), the largest professional body of electrical, electronics, computer, and IT engineers. He had served as the chairperson of the Pune section for 2018 and 2019 and started an initiative to help the farmers. This initiative involved shaping up a collaborative ecosystem and connecting the farmers to the engineering students. This allowed solving various problems through technological development for even more sustainable agriculture. And yes, they were able to make a difference in two districts of Marathwada- Beed, and Parbhani. They received a lot of recognition from the global IEEE community

Hobbies and motto

My work is my hobby: TCS’ Dinanath Kholkar“My work and passion towards technology is itself a hobby”, Dina said. He is extraordinarily curious about new ideas and likes to explore and understand all there is to know about them. Beyond work, he enjoys doing yoga and playing badminton. He has been playing the sport for over 30 years. In addition to that, he equally enjoys running and does the same whenever he gets the chance to when traveling various places.

He’s an avid explorer, loves to see more of mother nature that is yet to be seen. Besides, spending time with the family is something he yearns for. He’s an ardent fan of cricket, and at times watches football when he’s with his son. “I have also developed a fascination for gardening from the lockdown days and I spend a lot of time taking caring of my terrace garden”, he adds.

The one thing that drives Dina to forge ahead in life is that he wants to do something for his country. “Built a vision for me that I should be an architect of transforming India into a developed nation and that has driven my approach in whatever I do in my professional life and social works”, he adds. He tends to work on this vision whenever he gets the chance with his team and other people. “When you have people like Dr. Kohli, Dr. Mashelkar, and others who have contributed significantly towards nation development, they are a good inspiration to enable your life motto” he adds.

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