Jai Menon, chief information officer (CIO) at Bharti Enterprises Ltd, the parent company of India’s largest telecom services provider Bharti Airtel Ltd, has put in his papers to go back to research and innovation of new technologies after spending more than a decade at the group.

Menon turns 50 in January. He joined Bharti Airtel in 2002 as CIO and corporate director for information technology (IT), becoming group CIO in 2007.

Under his oversight, Bharti Airtel expanded its relationship with International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) after signing a 10-year, $750 million contract that set the trend among phone companies to outsource their non-core processes like software applications and computer hardware networks.

“I spent my 40s consuming IT in the telecoms sector, my 30s creating and innovating IT through IBM in the US, and my 20s in deep core mathematics research. In my 50s, I want to go back to deep technology research and create IP (intellectual property) and technologies rather than as a consumer of technology," Menon told Mint.

Menon ran Bharti Airtel’s customer service, where he created the outcome-based IT outsourcing model for the company. He was also an architect of the partnerships that Bharti Airtel has with Google Inc. and other technology firms across the world. Before joining Bharti, Menon had filed more than 30 patents.

Asked whether he had any specific research to focus on after leaving Bharti, Menon said he was keeping an open mind and looking at a range of areas for innovation of technology including healthcare and medicine, smart grids and infrastructure, cloud computing and so on.

“One of the reasons I moved back to India was to contribute to the national development of the country through telecoms like Bharti. Now I would like to contribute by creating technologies and IP for the country," he said.

After Bharti Airtel’s acquisition of Kuwait-based Zain’s Africa assets in 2010, Menon was additionally appointed as chief technology and information officer of Airtel Africa, where he ran networks and IT, in addition to serving as Bharti’s group CIO.

He started his career at IBM’s TJ Watson Research Labs in the US and became an executive director in IBM’s Software Group, heading worldwide research-to-market business. From there he joined AT&T as chief technology officer for IT across all lines of businesses.

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