Ajit was born into a leading family in Colombo. The family hailed from Jaffna in the far North, where they were traditional landowners and village chieftains. His grandfather Dr SL Navaratnam was the first Ceylonese FRCS, trained in London and Edinburgh, and a prominent gynecologist and the highest income taxpayer in Ceylon till his early death in 1952 of a heart attack while riding his horse. Ajit grew up in a semi-feudal extended family home, set in one acre of land in the best residential district in Colombo. His grandmother kept cows and goats to provide fresh milk for the children each day and hens for fresh eggs. There were 2 horses for his father and grandfather to ride each morning at Galle Face. There were grand parties with the dance band from Galle Face hotel where you found all of Colombo high society, and cricket matches on the back lawn on Sundays.
This will be a survey of Citibank consumer bank technology projects from its initiation in the late 1970s through the CORE project in the 1980s and the Systematics project. The immensely successful global cards project developed and deployed by the International Cards Center in Singapore is described in some detail as well as Asia’s lead in installing the Systematics banking suite in 12 countries. All these successful projects culminated in the expensive fiasco of the global Go to Common project – which having cost US$ 1.4 billion remains the most expensive bank technology disaster ever. I have tried to tell this remarkable story in the context of what was happening in the bank management as well as the consumer business because both aspects were intermingled and fed on each other.