Driven by Love for Logic & Technology, this Technocrat is Reshaping the World of Fund Management
By: WE Staff
An astute investor and technocrat, Dr. Sujata Seshadrinathan is currently the Director of IT and Process at Basiz Fund Services, India’s only global fund administrator. The very first fund to operate in GIFT City, Basiz Fund Services also launched Tripura’s first fund administration operation centre in collaboration with the state government to increase the visibility and employment levels in the North East.
Dr. Sujata been instrumental in launching Basiz and allowing it to leverage technologies such as blockchain to command an edge. She developed the proprietary algorithm and has been managing the proprietary investment portfolio of Basiz for the last 13 years.
Dr. Sujata has over 20 years of experience in the IT/ITES sector and has worked with Syntel and Foster Wheeler prior to joining Basiz. She also has two high-end intellectual property products patents registered under her name for commercial tech products and legal tech products respectively.
In a candid conversation with Women Entrepreneur India team, Dr Sujata takes us through her life’s journey, her interest in the field of technology, views of blockchain and much more. Here are choice excerpts from the conversation.
Q You have built an illustrious and expansive career that spans across industries and capabilities. Can you give us a brief overview of your professional journey over the years.
Dr. Sujata: My professional career has been shaped by my educational background to a great extent. I have a combination of qualifications. I have a master's in commerce focusing on accounting and economics. Additionally, I hold a diploma in software engineering. A majority of my career has always been in the field of software development.
I began my career as a software trainer and absolutely fell in love with the job. I went along to become a software developer. They say, ‘once a coder, always a coder’ and that applies to me as well. As natural progression, I went on to progress into a business analyst role next. From the business analysis role came the natural output of establishing Basis Fund Services in 2006.
The company was bootstrapped at the time. I also had to take care of my home and two young children on my own. That part of my life was difficult and also lonely. But it also brought with it major life lessons and a practical understanding about the general environment.
In 2011 I rejoined Basiz Fund Services, which I believe is my third child. From there we took off on a wonderful journey. here I was introduced to a world that had not yet been touched by technology, i.e. the world of accounting.
Accounting for AI as an alternative fund industry needed a deep understanding and innovation. At Basiz I led a small team where high productivity is the expectation. The work is complex and it involves tough calculations, digital record keeping, KYCs, constantly translating accounting entries into statements etc. We are probably the only entity in the world that has managed to automate in the private equity industry.
And then came a complex workflow management system which has been created by me. I hold two patents for the products that I've created here. Our latest product is a legal tech product that automates contracts and other such documents.
Q Did you always envision being a technocrat while growing up? What were some of the early life influences that shaped you as an individual?
Dr. Sujata: as a child I always loved maths. However, this was quite contrary to what I used to do in my spare time, which is read Unabridged English novels. Additionally, I was also a dancer and veena artist.
It’s natural to ponder, why maths? I believe that Indian classical music, dance and maths are closely interrelated. These art forms and math are precise and follow logical structures.
I realized that I was always binary, i.e., logical. I've always believed that technology and business are deeply intertwined. If you're able to break the business domain into logic, then you have the technology. So, all my interests fit together perfectly.
Growing up, accounting, finance, and economics were my favourite. These also had logic playing a key role. And then came the computer programming language, COBOL. Back in the day, codes were written manually. Early on, I had the uncanny ability to look at lines of code and spot errors. So that’s also the impact of logic.
I believe during our childhood and early years; we imbibe things such as logic and they impact the rest of our life’s trajectory. In my case, owing to an amalgamation of maths, logic, Sanskrit, Indian classical music, and dance, I naturally turned out to be a technocrat.
Q. You’ve seen the technology landscape evolve from what it used to be several years ago to what it is today. In your opinion what are some of the most impactful technology trends that the world has seen in the last 5 years?
Dr. Sujata: The world today has become seamless.
For an instance, initially, one could only use an ATM card in the bank's respective ATM. Then came a time where one could use the same ATM card in all banks’ ATMs. Similarly, there was a time when one had to take a bank's check to that bank itself, but that is not the case anymore.
Today we are all working with each other, and an organic connection is developing. The same phenomenon has been duplicated in technology. Or rather, technology has facilitated the seamless integration of the world.
In our world today information systems are not duplicated. You've got common information systems that are shared between all major stakeholders, and we have servers speaking to each other. There are APIs all over the place.
As we move along, the next level will be achieved, which is blockchains. In terms of blockchains, there is no need to replicate information. A good example of this is the Aadhar card. When I'm trading online through my ICICI trading accounts I don't need to feed in any extra information since the system automatically enters the PDS of all my dividends. I don't even need to save those documents. So, I believe this is the biggest advancement in technology in the last few years.
The seamless integration of information technology has empowered us and made life so much easier. It has also opened up a lot of possibilities for us.
I sit here talking to you today as a technocrat managing an IT team, whereas my passion is managing my portfolio. How do I do both? Its possible today. I have my portfolio open on my laptop. With a few technical upgradations, his small machine runs my blockchains.
Q. How will new-age technologies alter the investment & fund landscape as a whole?
Dr Sujata: Another major leap is happening in the form of artificial intelligence (AI) and chat GPT. It ties back to the previous point of living in a world where technology and information flows seamlessly. This will definitely impact the field of investments, fund accounting, and fund management. I believe the entire landscape will be positively impacted and even disrupted.
A common question for business leaders today is, ‘is AI a challenge for you?’ or ‘How are you planning to adopt AI in the field of fun management?’ in the world of fund management, there has been a lot of mathematical modelling. Today, machines do the work for fund managers, which has given the machines the ability to think. And machines can think faster and smarter. They can amalgamate information, integrate the information of 1000 fund managers and come up with the best models. This has led to machine-generated investment portfolios, which can give better returns.
Today, we need to become smarter. we need to be on our toes. These technologies will create a positive impact on the industry, we just need to understand how to leverage it.
Q. What message would you like to give to our readers, especially aspiring women professional?
Dr Sujata: Women need and should not look for family support. I believe it’s a myth. I reached here by god’s grace and that’s the only thing you require. We are all powerful enough to take anyone and anything on. It just requires focus.
Work-life-balance is another myth that I don’t believe in. My work is my life. I love it with the passion like none other. If you don’t, then you are missing passion. Once your work is your passion, you will find work life balance, mental health, physical wellbeing, good health, sound financials etc through your work. But only if, your work is your passion.
Another important thing is to never be afraid. nobody is superior or inferior to anybody. It is about how much confidence you have withing yourself. The confidence convinces people to trust you and to give you the opportunities that you deserve. The world will definitely respond to it.