Vikram Ramani | Executive Profile | ATLANTA TREND
Global Fintech from Atlanta
By Robert Green
Vikram Ramani, the CIO of Emerging Markets at Equifax, had to give up competitive cricket at the age of 16 in order to focus on his studies at the behest of his parents. They were concerned that it was taking up too much of his time, even though he was considered one of the top 25 players in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. “They sat me down and told me that I needed to focus on getting into college and earning a professional degree,” he says.
Born and raised in Chennai India, Vikram decided that since math and science were his favorite subjects he would become an engineer. He was accepted into Madras University where he majored in electronics and communication engineering. He also did a two year course of study in computer software at NIIT where he learned “hands on” programming.
Vikram became an intern at SRA Systems in Chennai upon graduation from Madras University in 1998 and then joined the company as a permanent employee six months later. “From the beginning, I only worked on U.S. client projects,” he says. One such project, for First Data Corporation, led to his first trip to the U.S. when he went to work onsite in Denver. In 2002, the opportunity arose for him to work for Equifax, a client of SRA, in Atlanta. “We were working on Equifax’s first decisioning platform, called Apply, which was much more than delivering just a credit report,” he says. Apply was initially only being positioned for telecoms to decide whether or not to give a customer a service ( land line, Wireless , Internet etc. ) and set up the appropriate service plan, but was later expanded to also make loan decisions for banks. As the Apply platform grew and became more profitable, Vikram was asked to become a permanent employee of Equifax as well as manager of Apply. He was now managing a team of 15 people.
The Apply platform’s success caused Vikram to become quite well known and liked throughout the company. He also was able to develop strong relationships with Equifax customers like BellSouth, GE and Verizon. “I was able to really understand what customers wanted and solve their business problems by positioning and delivering the appropriate solutions” he says.
In 2007, Vikram was asked to lead the retail vertical portion of Equifax’s new professional services group known as Technology & Analytical Services (TAS).
For his next opportunity, in 2009, Vikram was asked to assume responsibility for technology operations for all decisioning and fraud platforms at the company. This offered him significant exposure to international clients for the first time and he regularly interacted with teams in the UK, Canada and Latin America.
In 2012, Vikram became Vice President of Professional Services for Equifax’s Identity and Fraud business unit. “The work I did at this point was across all financial and other industry verticals,” he says. “I also spent a lot of time in Washington D.C working with Government customers.”
Vikram also began working on a personal goal in 2012 when he was accepted into the Executive MBA program at Emory University. “My MBA work gave me a lot,” he says. “First of all, I enjoyed the professional diversity of my fellow students – doctors, lawyers, accountants, engineers – and it gave me a wonderful perspective on all of the great opportunities available in the world. Second, it was great at giving me some practical knowledge outside of my work experience. For example, I have a much deeper understanding of the role that private equity firms play in today’s business world. The main thing I would say to people thinking about pursuing an MBA or any other degree is ‘don’t be afraid to try something new.’”
Upon completing his MBA, Vikram decided to take his own advice. He met with a number of senior executives at the company, and told them that he was ready to do more. Accordingly, several opportunities were made available to him. Vikram chose to become the CIO of Emerging Markets, with a focus on both Russia and India. “I had told them that I was ready to roll up my sleeves as the emerging markets role was going to be very ‘hands on,’” he says.
He found India to be an exciting challenge, as it was still in a startup mode. “I had to do a lot of work in India at first,” he says, “putting out fires and trying to figure out how to support increasing revenue.”
One thing Vikram has enjoyed about working internationally is getting to work with different cultures. “With more companies going global, it’s quite valuable to experience the different perspectives of other nationalities and learn how to work with people from other countries,” he says. “A big part of our future, and the future of many fintech companies in the U.S., is international,” he says. “It may be hard work delivering best in class U.S. financial tools and services to other parts of the world, but it is worth it. I’m very proud of what we do because we are basically providing the world with the tools they need to accelerate the stable growth of their own economies. Standards of living will rise around the world and we will be an important part of that,” he says.
Vikram has been married for 11 years and has two daughters, ages 10 and 6. The family resides in Johns Creek where he still continues to play cricket. He is also a regular in the ALTA and USTA Tennis leagues.
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