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‘In every disruptive change there is an opportunity’: Anant Gupta, CEO, HCL Technologies

Zafar Anjum | Dec. 12, 2014
“You have to cannibalize to survive in the future,” says Anant Gupta in this freewheeling interview with CIO Asia online Editor, Zafar Anjum. “If you don’t cannibalize your own business, someone else will. In every disruptive change there is an opportunity. It is a question of watching it and cannibalizing it.”

Anant sees the growth needle continuing to move in Europe. While the US market had started to take (IT decisions) in 2009 itself, Europe started stepping on the accelerator only a little later-in 2011 and later, he said. So, he expects HCL Tech's business to keep growing in Europe.

Leadership philosophy

Do you have any specific leadership philosophy, I asked him, because I wanted to know if he had taken the philosophy of the previous CEO forward or had diverged from it? "We are quite a delegated organization," he said. "We let decisions be taken where they should be taken. That is one of the core principles of our Employees First framework. Our core operating model is the inverted pyramid model."

"At the centre of all this is the risk-taking ability. When we are comfortable, we don't make efforts to invest time in something new. So the mindset of taking measured risk is an important element of our business and the way we want people to grow."

"Listening to customers is one of our strong cultures," he said, emphasizing on the 'Relationships beyond the Contract' theme.  HCL Technologies has 98 percent customer retention rate, which is one of the highest in the industry.

Gupta is also keen to keep his workforce diversified. "HCL Technologies is also going to focus on diversity as an agenda-diversity as a workforce in terms of nationality, as well as gender," he said. "Let's pick the latter one. It is very simple. Women comprise such a large workforce, an intelligent part of the society which is not with you. If you can't get that workforce on the table, you are losing out on such great talent."

Cannibalize your business

How will the Indian IT companies survive in the future? Will they even exist in the next 10 years?

The answer comes with a quick chortle. "You have to cannibalize to survive in the future," he said. "If you don't cannibalize your own business, someone else will. In every disruptive change there is an opportunity. It is a question of watching it and cannibalizing it. The markets will change, the technology will change, operating models will change, but if you keep doing the same thing for your customer that you used to do 10 years ago, obviously your customer will move on. So every three four years we come out with a model. Then the customer does not have to look anywhere else."

On innovation and 'ideapreneurship'

 How does HCL Tech promote innovation or innovative thinking in its processes and staff, I asked Gupta. "At HCL Technologies we have always believed in putting our employees in the driver's seat in order to unleash their true potential," he said. "As part of this 'employees first' belief system, we strive to attract and foster employees who believe in what we call as 'ideapreneurship'. We define ideapreneurship as the attitude or ability to drive grassroots-based, business-driven and customer-focused innovation in an entrepreneurial environment."


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