The Digital Juggernaut

~ The Digital Juggernaut ~


Digital disruption is testing the glory days of the IT Organization. More than ever, the CIOs need to double as a business leader as well as the driver of tech. So, are CIOs ready to embrace Digital and take their enterprises to next orbit of growth?

This became more pronounced when in the 1990s, IT was initially seen as a cost center and this changed as the years went by and when the ERP wave swept the enterprises in the 1990s, the nondescript MIS department tucked somewhere in the basement, suddenly became a celebrity and thus CIOs were born. Their stature grew because they purchased IT. And today with the advent of Digital, enterprise IT organizations are at the threshold of a major technology transformation.

CIOs by and large also agree that technology is becoming increasingly complex. Too much focus on understanding the technology will distract the CIOs from focusing on areas like business, IT alignment and collaboration which are critical and a key competency expected from a CIO by the CEO and the businesses today. More than understanding the nuts and bolts of each technology, the CIO has to focus on assessing the relevance of these technologies to the organization and explore ways and means to introduce new technologies in the organization.

Phanikishore Burre, Senior Vice President and Delivery Head – Cloud, Infrastructure & Security Services (CIS), CSS CORP

The rapid transition to digital has significantly changed the world forever. Digital has disrupted markets including India to a great extent and transformed the dynamics of customer engagement models in recent times. Traditional business models are declining as customers look for value beyond cost optimization. Organizations that are stuck in traditional engagement models have been plagued by inefficiencies across the board, with several layers and workflows. They have a cost centric focus and the information flows through discrete channels.

But digital has come in like a typhoon and cleaned up the entire ecosystem. It has given rise to an immediate turn around and brought in omni-channel experiences and transparency to operations. It has connected the consumer and the brand seamlessly.

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Ethical AI in 2022: Why It’s Time to Confront Biases

Ethical AI can no longer be an afterthought for the enterprise; it must be built into the fabric of AI, believe experts.

As Artificial Intelligence (AI) begins to play a much larger role in our daily lives, streamlining our work, resolving customer issues, talking to us as companion bots, driving autonomous cars, and helping employees make more informed and faster decisions, ethical AI can no longer an afterthought for the enterprise; it must be built into the fabric of AI.

“AI ethics” refers to the organizational constructs that reaffirms commitment to corporate values, policies, codes of ethics, and guiding principles in the age of AI. These constructs set guidelines and governance for AI throughout the organization, from research and design, to build and train, to change and operate,” says Prashanth Kaddi, Partner, Deloitte India.

Issues around ethical AI have garnered more attention over the past several years with tech giants from Facebook to Google to Microsoft and IBM have already established and published principles to demonstrate to stakeholders — customers, employees, and investors — that they understand the importance of ethical or responsible AI.

The pandemic has further proved that businesses are betting big on AI, with analyst firms forecasting AI investments to grow from $27.23 billion in 2019 to $266.92 billion by 2027. And as investments increase, the need to give the technology a “moral compass” has become more urgent.

However, there is growing evidence that AI based applications can lead to increased discrimination based on gender, class, caste, ethnicity, religion and other identity forming characteristics. As Prof. Amit Prakash, Associate Professor and Coordinator at IIIT-Bangalore observes, “This can come through an inadequate attention to the processes associated with collection of digital data used to train the AI models as well as through algorithmic biases, which get introduced when design teams are not sensitive to, or even aware of, the diversity in the implementation context.”

Ethical AI trends

Talking about the ethical AI trends in the market, in 2022, Rahul Joshi, CTO, CSS Corp notes that there will be a high demand for responsible AI solutions in the market. Responsible AI solutions offer a range of capabilities that help companies turn AI principles such as fairness and transparency into consistent practices.

“If we look at the industry today, most tech or non-tech organizations generate consumer benefits and business value by leveraging 70% to 80% AI-led operations and creating AI-infused products and applications,” says Joshi, adding that while AI can be a helpful tool to increase productivity and reduce the need for people to perform repetitive tasks, it can also give rise to a host of significant unintended (or maliciously intended) consequences for individuals, organizations, and society.

He believes, there are many cases where the algorithms cause problems by replicating the (often unconscious) biases of the developers/programmers who built them. So, it’s crucial to ensure that comprehensive datasets are used. Most organizations have bias bounties in place, and this trend will run rampant in the coming years.

“To ensure that no company is marred with data or AI ethics enrage that can impact its reputation and revenue, it’s imperative to build an ethical & responsible AI,” says Joshi.



Flashback 2018: Cloud’s popularity soars but policy challenges are on the horizon

Cloud computing has been among the biggest talking points in technology this year, as large Indian enterprises embarked on digital transformation journeys driven by the promise of higher revenues and improved productivity, lead generation, customer satisfaction and business intelligence.

Several startups, too, were born in the cloud in the year gone by. Simply put, this means they started their operations in the cloud after being lured by service providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, IBM, Google, Oracle and Alibaba, among others.

These services ranged from storage to computing and analytics for business intelligence, with nimbleness being the overarching theme.

Abbas Godhrawala, partner-advisory services at EY, said that cloud computing had indeed taken off in India during 2018.

“Cloud customers now include everyone from startups to large Indian corporations,” Godhrawala told TechCircle. “The biggest advantage of cloud for organisations is the cost benefit due to resource pooling. We believe cloud will continue to accelerate in India and gather momentum owing to the growing trend of digital adoption.”

Market research firm Gartner had projected that India’s public cloud services revenue would grow 37.5% in 2018 to nearly $2.5 billion. This would see India outpace the global market, which was expected to grow 21% to reach $175.8 billion in 2018.

Godhrawala said that there has been a rapid rise in enterprise spend on public cloud, notably Azure and AWS, while private cloud spending has been declining.

Phanikishore Burre, CSS Corp senior vice president and global delivery head-networks, cloud, infrastructure & security services, said that cloud has certainly gone mainstream in India in terms of adoption.

“Migrating to cloud has created a paradigm shift in enabling organisations to launch businesses faster and smarter,” Burre explained. “Cloud has emerged as a critical business driver for more and more businesses seeking to achieve competitive differentiation and faster time-to-market.”

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CSS Corp Recognized as Leader in the Digital Workplace by ISG

Bangalore, Karnataka, India: CSS Corp, a new-age IT services and technology support company, today announced that it has been recognized as a market leader in the digital workplace by Information Services Group (ISG), a leading global technology research and advisory firm.

According to the 2019 ISG Provider Lens™ Digital Workplace of the Future Report for the U.S., CSS Corp, based out of Milpitas, California, United States was among the leading providers in the Digital Workplace of the Future Managed Services – Mobility Support category.

“Leaders in our digital workplace report are helping companies make their employees’ lives easier by allowing them to use the technologies of their choice,” said Jan Erik Aase, director and global leader, ISG Provider Lens Research. “Digital workplace leaders are helping employees of their clients engage in more satisfying and efficient ways with their companies’ data and applications.”

The ISG report noted that, “CSS Corp has developed smart workplace support services based on cognitive automation and offers flexible usage options to midmarket clients.” Earlier this year, CSS Corp was featured in the Top 25 Digital Transformation case studies in 2019 by ISG.

Manish Tandon, Chief Executive Officer, CSS Corp, said, “In this age of hyper-connectivity and heightened customer expectations, global organizations are looking to create workplace environments that enable their employees to be most productive. In this context, we have been working with leading organizations to help them set up workplaces of the future. Our digital workplace solutions, powered by mobility and augmented reality technologies, coupled with best-in-class services, is an ideal option for organizations who are looking to transform their work environments. We are glad to be recognized as leaders by ISG for our digital workplace services.”

The 2019 ISG Provider Lens™ Digital Workplace of the Future Report for the U.S. evaluates the capabilities of 28 providers across four quadrants: Digital Workplace Consulting Services, Managed Services – Workplace Support, Managed Services – Mobility Support and Managed Services – Mobility Support for the Midmarket.

The ISG Provider Lens Quadrant report series draws insights on service provider capabilities from focused surveys, briefings, interviews with providers, input from ISG advisors, ISG benchmarking data, and data drawn from the ISG Contracts Knowledgebase™ and ISG Engagement Database™. The series is a complement to the ISG Provider Lens Archetype reports, which offer a first-of-its-kind evaluation of providers from the perspective of specific buyer types.

About ISG

ISG (Information Services Group) (Nasdaq: III) is a leading global technology research and advisory firm. A trusted business partner to more than 700 clients, including more than 70 of the top 100 enterprises in the world, ISG is committed to helping corporations, public sector organizations, and service and technology providers achieve operational excellence and faster growth. The firm specializes in digital transformation services, including automation, cloud and data analytics; sourcing advisory; managed governance and risk services; network carrier services; strategy and operations design; change management; market intelligence and technology research and analysis. Founded in 2006, and based in Stamford, Conn., ISG employs more than 1,300 digital-ready professionals operating in more than 20 countries-a global team known for its innovative thinking, market influence, deep industry and technology expertise, and world-class research and analytical capabilities based on the industry’s most comprehensive marketplace data

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Future-proofing employees to overcome challenges

“Experience is a good university, but the fee is high,” goes the popular adage. However, when it’s about learning at the speed of change, not all employers can afford the time, resources, and costs of learning through experiences alone. Thus, for swift learning on the job, employers are turning toward various skilling programs and across L&D departments, conversations about the need for crafting programs to advance employees across agile project turfs are galore. The benefits are two-fold; first, today’s futuristic employers want to proactively gear up their teams for upcoming projects and clients’ changing requirements. Second, it paves a stable path for careerists wishing to move ahead.

Technology at the fore

Employee skilling has many faces: reskilling, upskilling, e-learning, short modules, and so forth and the approach of an organization varies when it comes to how they deliver these programs. However, the use of latest tools and technologies for providing learning should be at the convenience of employees and never at the cost of ongoing projects. When asked about their learning strategies, the L&D head of a new age services firm quipped, “How does one eat an elephant? Bite by bite. Long-term courses do have their place, but this is specifically about targeted micro-modules or ‘bites’ that support employees on specific project requirements.” So therein lies the answer; from e-learning solutions, video streaming services, and cloud platforms to online certifications and digital skilling frameworks for massive open online courses (MOOCs), technology is the common denominator that pushes the learning continuum.

The current scenario

Today’s new-age technologies whet the appetite of freshly-minted professionals. They’re eager beavers who are attuned with the market and are acutely aware of the need to differentiate themselves in a competitive environment. The landscape is teeming with talented job applicants who have a range of options to choose from, and they’re mindful of the area they want to specialize in. In a sense, their exposure to new technologies and career options is at an all-time high when compared with candidates a decade ago.

The existing gaps

The advent of innovative learning initiatives to train the existing workforce in niche technologies and domains is a surefooted path to building a competent workforce. However, on the one hand, a talented pool of applicants is in the waiting; on the other hand, a lacuna persists between the market’s demands and their corresponding skill requirements from job applicants. This mismatch is hurting companies and prospective job applicants alike.

To bridge this gap, technology firms are offering training programs in specific skills by partnering with government institutions, trade bodies, not-for-profit societies, and educational service providers. Take, for example, NASSCOM, National Skill Development Corporation, ICT Academy, and others who partner with top technology firms to prepare a skill-based curriculum. This kind of a partnership model serves the needs of a rapidly changing industry by ensuring that students are “in the know” when it comes to new-age technologies (AI, ML, Big Data, Analytics, and the like). Not just technical skills but also soft skills, communication, and writing skills. Therefore, these initiatives ensure that applicants are career-ready even before they start marketing their skills to employers — a win-win situation for all.

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Rewinding 2019 for the Indian IT industry

2019 is down to the last two weeks. The year brought in a series of challenges as well as opportunities for the IT/ITES sector. Starting from new jobs, talent acquisition, compensation, and benefits, skilling, employee experience, wellness and HR tech among others, trends in this sector have transformed exponentially, paving the way for the future of work and a whole different paradigm to measure the effectiveness of human resources.

Before 2020 kicks in, let’s take a look at the developments and challenges across the IT/ITES sector in 2019 and get a grasp on what lies ahead.

Hiring 2019

2019 has been an interesting and busy year for the IT sector. With more than 64, 442 employees hired in the first half of the financial year 2019 – 20, and TCS alone making 30, 000 on-campus offers, it was indeed a bright year for recruitments in the industry. 2020 shows similar signs with hiring expected to rise by 10%, according to recruitment professionals following the increase in entry-level jobs.

While 2019 witnessed recruitment of nearly 1,80,000 graduates and engineers, 2020 is expected to take the number well over 2,00,000. The top 5 Indian tech majors – Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Infosys, HCL Technologies, Wipro and Tech Mahindra are expected to account for over 40% of the estimated hires.


A major trigger for this surge is global corporations setting up technology centers in India, as well as Indian companies expanding their software base.

As tech giants scale their efforts in the direction of reskilling the workforce to prepare them for the future of work, together with managing costs amid several global challenges, what has not seen a downfall is hiring freshers. Despite Cognizant announcing layoff of nearly 13,000 employees, the company did not cut down on entry-level hires. The trend has been the same for companies like Infosys and TCS. With career development, skilling frameworks, learnability, and employee wellness is the center of focus for tech majors across the globe, hiring graduates fresh out of college sure offers them a clean slate to build capabilities and foster culture.

Where is the industry in the adoption of HR Tech?

The impact of digital transformation has transcended not just the way businesses function and interact with customers, but also the method of interaction, engagement and functioning with and for employees. With 2019 being a sunny-side-up for the HR tech space in the country and globally as well, it goes without saying that companies, majorly tech companies, have taken to digitizing their processes and systems with an open approach. This clearly reflects in the sentiments of leaders as well.

Sharing with People Matters where the IT industry stands today with respect to HR tech adoption on a scale of 1 – 5, Satyanarayanan Visvanathan, Senior Vice President –  Head of HR (Global) and Head of Corporate Quality, CSS Corp said, “I would place them somewhere between 3 and 4. But let me highlight this: HR functions are going through a paradigm shift or a techno awakening. They certainly don’t want to be sidelined. When it comes to day to day HR operations, the pinch of technology or lack thereof is being felt by every HR practitioner in the IT and ITES sector.”

Confirming the positive sentiment and optimistic future for HR Tech in the IT/ITES industry, Kaushik Ghosh, People Head at Thoughtworks added, “The growing recognition of how tech can enhance employee experience, drive considerable efficiencies and bring futuristic insights to the business will ensure adoption levels continuously improve over time.”

Challenges that stay

As global organizations battle it out when it comes to attracting, engaging and retaining talent, they strive to redesign the bouquet of offerings to make the most competitive, lucrative and attractive offers, accompanied by coming-of-age workplace policies that aim to provide employees with work-life integration, holistic wellness, skilling programs, and career development opportunities internally.

Visvanathan shared that “What’s interesting is that our employee engagement initiatives bolstered participation numbers in learning programs. This brisk pace of learning has resulted in pushing the employee engagement levels at CSS Corp.” 


“In an ultra-dynamic technology terrain, our employees are also evolving by learning at the speed of change. In pace with the client demands and technological shifts, we are striving to ensure our employees’ skills are honed and attuned to today’s market,” he added.

While companies up their game by incorporating the latest technologies through skilling initiatives and introducing more employee-friendly policies, what they cannot afford is to compromise on offering the right compensation, matching their competency and skill set.

 “In an environment where various types and sizes of organizations are competing to hire and retain top talent, C&B is a vital consideration that could tilt the scales in one’s favor. Organizations need to pay special attention to competitiveness, parity and creativity in this space,” said Ghosh.

Vision 2020

With the digital wave continuing to clash against the rock-solid foundation of conventional and new-age organizational setups, there is an imperative need to not only future proof HR teams but also to streamline digitization efforts, ensuring companies, leaders and employees are able to extract maximum benefits of tech without hampering the human experience surrounding everything people and work.

As rightly captured by Ghosh, “Today’s employees express a greater need for autonomy, flexibility, aspiration-led growth, and they want to be part of diverse, sensitive and inclusive organizations. This has moved companies to put the spotlight on talent management to create a compelling edge in the market.”

What lies ahead is a springboard of opportunities. If organizations can capitalize on them at the right time, they stand a chance to benefit immensely with a head start as the world leaps into and through the digital revolution.


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CSS Corp starts reaping benefit of revamp kicked off 2 years ago

A complete organisational revamp initiated two years ago has helped the city-based CSS Corp, a technology company owned by Swiss PE firm Partners Group, to improve its performance. In the last one year, the quarterly run-rate has improved by about 25 per cent, said the company’s CEO, Manish Tandon.

“We are seeing results of the revamp with quarterly run-rate of about $40 million. Every quarter, we added 4-5 per cent sequentially. The growth was not sudden and attributed to one or two clients but was gradual over the last few quarters,” said Tandon who joined CSS three years ago after nearly 20 years at Infosys.

The company, which has around 4,000 employees in Chennai out of a total global workforce of around 7,100, has been witnessing 4-5 per cent revenue increase quarter-on-quarter, he told BusinessLine.

While growth for CSS was flat, Tandon said he had to rejuvenate the entire organisation and reposition the company. “Today, we are not an IT or BPO company but a new age IT service company. Give us any problem, we will lead with technology and people rather than the other way around. This was a big change for the company,” he said.

The entire sales and marketing organisation was revamped, and employee culture, mindset and training had to be worked on with technology changes. New revenue model was based on outcome. Most of the clients are now on annuity rather than time and material. This helps in a sustainable business. CSS mainly focuses on sectors like technology, media and telecom apart from digital business, he said.

Open to accquisition
Tandon said the company was open to acquisition to help growth, and is willing to shell out $20 million to $100 million. “We will look at a company that is into product development or testing. We have enough cash, and are fairly profitable. We are backed by the Partners Group, and if a need comes to inject equity, it can always be done,” he said.

For the year ending March 31, 2020, the company is likely to report revenue of nearly $160 million as against $139 million in the last year. “Organically, we will reach around $200 million in a couple of years. However, if an acquisition is done, achieving that will be much quicker,” he said.

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CSS Corp to expand facilities in India, add 1,000 positions over one year

Tech firm CSS Corp is looking at expanding its facilities in India, adding about 1,000 positions over the next year.

The company, which offers analytics, automation and cloud consulting services, currently has about 4,500 people in India across offices in Noida, Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad.

“We have seen a strong growth in our business, we have grown 25 percent from a year back. We are looking at further strengthening our position here and expect to add about 1,000 people over the next one year,” CSS Corp CEO Manish Tandon told PTI.

In Noida, CSS Corp has about 100 people, which is expected to be doubled. Other centres like Hyderabad and Bengaluru would also see hiring taking place.

Globally, the company has about 7,000 people. It has centres in the US (Utah, Dallas, Milpitas and New Jersey), Poland, Mauritius, Costa Rica, China and the Philippines. Tandon said he expects the strong pace of growth to continue for the company.

“We expect to continue this growth momentum. There is a huge demand for automation and analytics solutions across sectors… Our digital-focused strategy and innovative network solutions have helped us to offer flexible and value-based services to our clientele, and fast-track their network transformation journeys,” he pointed out.

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How Tech Companies Are Championing the Cause of People with Disabilities

“With over a billion people (about 15 per cent of the world’s population) having some form of disability, according to WHO, it becomes important for tech companies to create their products with accessibility features in mind. Every industry has far reaching applications of technologies like automation, IoT, AI, augmented & virtual reality, and smart analytics. Complying to ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) and WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) standards, online portals and websites have to be accessible for visually challenged community, and this is where assistive technologies such as screen reader helps to read information on the browsers such as text, images, control elements, audio and video files. The screen reader translates the content and is made audible for the visually challenged people. CSS Corp has developed an automated solution for handling accessibility testing, which has been applied for a leading American cosmetic brand with about 4000 pages on its site. The solution is integrated with speech to text engine for comparing the detected content with the displayed content. The solution leverages technology to help business do the right thing the first time, avoid legal risks of inaccessibility and thereby achieve inclusive customer base. It also helps to improve testing coverage to 100% and reduces the cost of testing by over 70%. Further, the solution has a module that helps to identify the poor contrast regions using computer vision algorithms.” – Dr. Kiran Marri, Chief Scientist & Vice President, Digital Engineering at CSS Corp.

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Here’s what Senior Director – SSQA and Corporate Quality at CSS Corp has to say about the evolving landscape for women in tech

The landscape for women in tech has taken a paradigm shift. The technology realm is being manifested with the latest innovation by women technologists. In our special series of covering such women in tech, we spoke to Bhuvaneswari Natarajan, Senior Director – SSQA and Corporate Quality at CSS Corp. Natarajan has two decades of experience in leading large software development and support and also has hands-on experience in implementing ITIL-based processes in large engagements.

In our conversations, we covered different dimensions of the workplaces for women professionals in the IT industry. Here’s what unfolded.

How has the workforce diversity landscape evolved in India in recent years?
Diversity and Inclusion have become integral towards fostering a workforce of the future. In the Indian scenario, this was initially perceived as varying gender, however, the understanding of the concept has evolved to encompass various other subsets. Diversity hiring has risen to 32% in 2020, from last year’s 23%, as per a report by Avtar Group. Organisations are integrating workplace diversity at the core of their organisational philosophy and are championing it through initiatives and policies to promote positive change. Conscious effort and commitment to promote a culture of diversity has resulted in organisations across sectors to reap tremendous benefits that directly impact business outcomes. Diverse and inclusive workplaces bring in different perspectives from employees because they are encouraged to be their real self, which in turn adds to the heterogeneity of the company and leads to higher creativity and innovation. Over the years this has created greater employee engagement, increased collaboration, and profits for companies, thus enabling their people to prosper.

What do you think is the best part of being a woman in the tech industry?
The tech industry is evolving at an extraordinary pace, and during this rapid growth, there has been a significant increase in the percentage of women employees. The initiatives and support rendered by technology companies through mentorship programmes, peer training, reskilling and upskilling courses gives women in tech a platform to hone their abilities further as well as develop and grow within their roles. Research has shown that women are goal driven, empathetic and meticulous. The tech industry has a plethora of opportunities for women to explore, expand their horizons and succeed. Women are transforming the field with their innovative practices and disruptive thinking. Organisations are investing in equipping women with the skill sets and knowledge to take charge of their careers. It is indeed a great time to be a woman in tech.

There are few women at C-suite positions and top leadership. What are the most critical challenges organisations face while appointing a woman leader at the top position?
Organisations have constantly grappled with the challenge of ensuring a gender balance for C-Suite and top leadership positions. This situation emerged as few women were able to cross the hurdles encountered in the span of their career to grow and reach a position to be vested with leadership. You can divide a woman’s career graph into two segments: BC (Before Child) and AD (After Delivery). Many women take breaks to focus on their personal front, the prospect of them resuming their careers becomes a significant decision due to lack of a reliable support system. Also, women need a workplace that renders support through various stages of their career and enables them to take on as many personal and professional roles without any inhibitions. These shortcomings, both internal and external must be countered through practices that create a healthy and positive environment to empower women and enable them to shatter the glass ceiling and make a mark for themselves.

What are the most flourishing career choices for women tech aspirants?
There are infinite possibilities for women entering the burgeoning technology ecosystem. New-age and emerging technologies such as AI/ML, Cloud, DevOps, among others provide immense opportunities to learn, understand and deploy the power of technology. Moreover, women can make their mark and create a niche for themselves by propelling their learning, growth, and development forward. It is with sheer commitment, focus and perseverance that they can achieve their goals and excel in this / any field.

What is the best way to expand your professional network?
Networking and making professional connections are imperative for individuals to foster collaboration and growth within this dynamic industry. There are multitude of ways through which people can expand their professional network and create an impact across various fronts. Joining professional organisations such as Project Management Institute (PMI), and being a part of internal company events, as well as events organised by reputed industry bodies and companies are ways to build contact. Tapping on alumni networks through LinkedIn is yet another means to ensure that people are connecting with like-minded individuals to further their career and add to their learning significantly.

What advice would you give to a woman considering a career in the tech industry? What do you wish you had known?
My advice to any woman contemplating a career in the tech industry would be to be focused and goal-driven from the outset and chart out a career map with the milestones that they would like to achieve across their various roles and capacities. It is vital to positively affirm oneself and celebrate every achievement. Be hearty in approbation and lavish in praise. Always believe in yourself and follow your passion!

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