At the start of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, Aon, a leading global professional services firm providing a broad range of risk, retirement and health solutions, launched a company-wide game to gather new ideas from its global network of 50,000 employees. Within the first week, the internal “Olympics,” which included coaches and teams, had generated over 300 new ideas.
This experience speaks to two aspects of business that are important to CTO and SVP of IT Platform Services, Rajeev Khanna: the value of employee teams and the importance of proactively seeking new ideas in both informal and formal ways.
“One of the biggest takeaways from my 20-year career in tech is the value of having the right teams,” says Khanna. “I’ve had the opportunity to work with some great people, and I’ve learned something from everyone. We’ve solved some challenging problems together — and those are the moments you remember most.”
When it comes to generating innovative new ideas to solve problems, part of Khanna’s job is to connect the right innovation with the right business problems to create the right solutions to customers’ problems. “We are very innovative in our organization when it comes to solving our customers’ business challenges. And we can all contribute innovative ideas no matter where we sit in the company.”
In fact, he has found that often it’s the employees in the organization who are dealing directly with our customers’ pain points that have the most innovative ideas for solving them. The company also seeks innovation from its teams sitting in all parts of the world. “They may see things differently than I see them from where I sit,” says Khanna. “That’s why I encourage all of our employees to contribute to idea sharing.”
Interested in hearing more about team building and innovation from the CTO of a large global organization? Tune into this episode of Cloud Talk. In this half-hour segment, Khanna and Chief Technology Evangelist and podcast host, Jeff DeVerter, discuss a wide range of issues, including:
- Serving a diverse range of clients with unique sets of challenges and needs
- Solving business problems with the right technical solutions
- Creating great partnerships between the technology and the lines of business
- Rallying during the pandemic crisis to supply internal support for employees’ professional and personal lives
- Cultivating meaningful business relationships over the course of a long IT career
- Keeping an eye on the technology innovation landscape to know what to be prepared for next
When it comes to team building, Khanna says that he takes his time to ensure he has the right people for every role. “I’m extremely conscious of finding the right fit. One time it took me almost a year before I filled every role. I wanted to make sure that we all would have great chemistry and work well together, because that’s how you get stuff done.”
One critical element of great teams, according to Khanna, is diversity, not just of race and sex, but also of background, geography and thought. Aon itself is a diverse organization, offering financial and insurance solutions in five business categories in over 120 countries.
“Within such a large global organization, one way we stay current in our industry is by leveraging our diversity,” notes Khanna. “We continually work to foster innovation, such as with our current internal Olympics game. If a team member feels passionate about their idea, I’ll tell them, ‘Run with it. Go solve for it.’”