Dr. Saurabh Katiyar

Innovating Tomorrow's Asian Tech

Dr. Saurabh Katiyar

R&D Director – CP Group R&D Centre; Head – Technology (Innovations and Emerging Tech), Group CTO Office,

Charoen Pokphand Group, Thailand

Asia’s technology market is a cauldron of innovation, where volatility and evolution dance hand in hand. Success in this landscape demands more than just technical prowess—it requires a unique blend of traits and principles that navigate the complexities of this dynamic terrain. At the forefront of this journey stands Dr. Saurabh Katiyar, R&D Director, Head of Technology, with a focus on AI, ML, robotics, communications, digital, and sensing tech at CP Group R&D, CoE and Labs, Group CTO Office at Charoen Pokphand Group.
Dr. Saurabh’s career spans nearly three decades, exemplifying the transformative power of innovation. From his early days as a tech associate to his current role at CP Group, he has been a driving force behind cuttingedge solutions that redefine industries. Adaptability is crucial in Asia’s tech landscape, where market dynamics can swiftly change. Dr. Saurabh’s journey showcases his ability to thrive amidst uncertainty, seamlessly transitioning between roles with grace and determination, propelling CP Group’s success in a rapidly evolving market.
However, his leadership transcends technical expertise. Drawing inspiration from a diverse array of interests—from music and art to spirituality and philanthropy— Dr. Saurabh’s holistic approach infuses creativity and empathy into his leadership. As Head of AI, ML, Robotics, Communications, and Sensing Technology at CP Group, he spearheads initiatives reshaping various industries’ futures. His collaborative leadership has solidified CP Group’s position as a global tech leader, setting new standards of excellence and inspiring others.
TradeFlock recently interviewed Dr. Saurabh to delve into his leadership approach, journey, and future plans, shedding light on his remarkable contributions to the tech landscape. 

Could you share key milestones and experiences that have shaped your professional journey?

My professional journey is all about breaking the glass ceiling. In a career spanning 29 years, I’ve embodied a blend of foresight, expertise, and relentless pursuit of excellence. As a technology leader, I’ve not only trailblazed but also shaped the vision of techenabled organisations. Beyond the corporate realm, I’ve explored diverse passions, from art to philanthropy, infusing my leadership with creativity and a deep appreciation for human expression.
Starting as a tech associate in 1993, I’ve ascended to my current role as R&D Director and Global Tech Leadership of a 100-billiondollar revenue group company. This journey reflects my profound understanding of the industry and my unwavering commitment to driving growth and innovation. My success is attributed to the support of my family, including my loving wife and daughters, as well as divine blessings.
Academic excellence has been a cornerstone of my career, with dual master’s degrees, a PhD, and education from prestigious institutions like NUS and Stanford. My thirst for knowledge has led me to delve into AI, biosensing, nanotech-biotech engineering, telemedicine, and quantum mechanics, contributing to cutting-edge advancements in these domains.
Currently, I serve as R&D Director and Head of Technology at Charoen Pokphand Group (CP Group), leading advancements in AI-ML, robotics, communications, and sensing technology globally. Additionally, I advise governments and private bodies on neurological research, edtech, and healthcare startups, contributing to patents, investments, and the success of global ventures. My work extends beyond corporate boundaries, collaborating closely with governments, universities, and startup incubators to foster innovation and drive positive change on a global scale. 

My primary focus is aligning technology innovation with our group's overarching vision of becoming a leading global conglomerate focused on innovation.

How have your past roles shaped your approach to Asian tech leadership and innovation?

Over my 29-year journey across toptier Fortune 500 companies spanning various industries, I’ve honed a versatile approach to Asian tech leadership and innovation. Beginning in 1993, before the digital revolution, I’ve witnessed and driven transformative shifts from mechanical to digital technologies, from centralised to decentralised internet, and from analogue to quantum networks.
Innovation is key to staying ahead in any industry, and I’ve championed a multidimensional strategy focusing on driving S-curve patterns of innovation. This involves cultivating a culture of innovation within teams, fostering agility and cross-functional capabilities, and aligning strategies with current and future market demands.
During my tenure as head of technology management and transformation, I’ve led organisations to unprecedented heights by launching new businesses and value-added services in emerging markets. Supported by advanced deep-tech solutions, these ventures have spanned diverse sectors such as agriculture, smart everything, clean tech, biotech, nanotech, robotics, cybersecurity, and healthcare.
My experiences have underscored the importance of continuous evolution and adaptation in meeting the ever-changing needs of the business landscape. By fostering innovation and embracing emerging technologies, I’ve contributed to driving growth and delivering greater value to consumers across Asia. 

What major challenges have you faced as R&D Director and Head of AI-ML Robotics and Sensing Tech at CP Group?

My primary focus is aligning technology innovation with our group’s overarching vision of becoming a leading global conglomerate focused on innovation. This involves setting a strong vision and strategic direction and ensuring alignment with execution across various sectors. Market forecast volatility, return on investment concerns, cost overruns, and entry barriers are common challenges we generally face. Additionally, the risks associated with transformational changes and managing the status quo pose hurdles. Addressing these challenges requires a welldefined future market strategy, strategic management involvement, and a research roadmap. Execution plans based on Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) aligned with organisational vision and strategy are crucial in overcoming these obstacles and driving innovation success.

What key principles or values are essential for success in the tech industry, particularly in Asia?

In the dynamic and rapidly evolving Asian tech industry, success hinges on core principles like innovation, adaptability, customer-centricity, R&D collaboration, localised solutions, social market penetration, entrepreneurial spirit, transparency, trust, continuous learning, and surge impact. These values shape organisational culture and drive success amidst dynamic market conditions. Embracing these principles fosters resilience, fosters innovation, and enables companies to navigate challenges effectively while staying ahead of the curve.

What tech leadership challenges and opportunities do you anticipate in Asia, and how do you plan to address them?

The Age of Disruption brings forth myriad opportunities and challenges for tech leadership in Asia, particularly in industry segments like healthcare, agriculture, food, manufacturing, sustainability, biotechnology, and retail.
In agriculture, the pressing need for food security amid climate change calls for innovative solutions such as empirical data modelling and the development of climateresistant seeds. Automation and AI-driven technologies can optimise livestock farming, addressing issues like biosecurity and yield optimisation.
In the manufacturing sector, the advent of real-time digital triplets and quantum computing drives Industry 4.0, promising enhanced productivity, flexibility, and agility. Sustainability is a global imperative, and cleantech innovations such as alternative energy sources and waste-to-value processes play a pivotal role in driving green revenue and carbon neutrality.
In healthcare and telemedicine, the integration of multi-modality computing and AI enables efficient data processing and digital biomarker based diagnostic sensing and applications across various platforms, from embedded systems to the cloud.
To prepare for these challenges and opportunities, I continuously promote to develop innovation culture, foster global collaborations and invest in research and development to ensure that CP Group remains at the forefront of innovation in these critical sectors. 

Which Asian tech sectors do you foresee growing significantly? Any plans to enter these spaces, and if yes, how?

Indeed, the Asian tech landscape is poised for significant growth and transformation in several key industries in the coming years.
Retail e-commerce and fintech, healthtech, telemedicine, electric vehicles, 5G and space technology, alternative energy, and agribusiness are among the sectors expected to experience substantial growth. For instance, the retail e-commerce sector is witnessing a massive shift in consumer behaviour, with India and China leading the way in digital payments and eCommerce transactions. Southeast Asia has also seen remarkable growth, with platforms like Lazada and Shopee dominating the market. This disruption presents opportunities for innovation in areas such as micro-fulfilment, last-mile delivery, and real-time inventory management. Our retail ventures, such as Lotus’s, is poised to capitalise on this growth, with strategic plans to leverage technological innovations to increase revenue and enhance the customer experience.
In digital health, Asia is projected to see significant growth, with telemedicine platforms and retail point-of-care centers playing a crucial role in expanding access to healthcare services. Non-invasive digital biomarkers are driving cost reductions and improving outcomes for chronic diseases like cancer, heart failure, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s. Our telemedicine platform, supported by a network of doctors and advanced healthcare devices, is well-positioned to capitalise on this growth and drive positive health outcomes across the region.