A bird’s-eye view of the global economy
Although it is believed that success is more a journey than a destination, in that the doing is more important than the outcome, for Chander Prakash Gurnani this is not the case. In his career of over 28 years, CP (as he is affectionately known to his colleagues) has orchestrated and successfully accomplished a wide range of gargantuan business endeavours, from start-ups, joint ventures and mergers and acquisitions to turnarounds.
Prior to the World Economic Forum’s Tianjin Meeting of New Champions – and wearing his present hat as CEO of Mahindra Satyam, India’s recently reborn IT Services & BPO phoenix – CP spoke with Swiss Style about the state of the global economy during the recovery process.
Having acquired vast experience while working in the outsourcing sector, he benefits from a “bird’s-eye view” of the global economic evolution; hence, he is among the first to know what works and what doesn’t.
A question of management
As debate about the effectiveness of the governments’ stimulus packages worldwide heats up, CP’s position is clear: “It is very evident to me that the belt-tightening measures and the stimulus packages have seemed to work even though both the public and the private sector have found it tough.” As he suggests, the challenges they faced translated into the difficulty to increase the competitiveness of the economy and create employment, as well as sustaining demand.
“From my perspective, some companies are doing better then others; the same is true for governments. It is a question of management. For my part, I always look at choosing the best and the most efficient practices when doing business.”
Indeed, the course of the recovery is different for the industrialized countries than for the emerging markets or, as CP prefers to call them, fast-growing markets. In his opinion, these markets have shown considerable progress in their effectiveness to respond to citizens’ needs for services. “They are mobilized to substantially reshape into service- driven economies,” he comments.
And a window of opportunity
For the industrialized countries, however, the recovery has proved itself slow and the retrenchment measures have been carried out with a few causalities. As he puts it, “Europe’s trajectory, for example, is slowed down by problems characteristic to industrialized societies: an ageing population, limited resources and, in our view, a dissimilar approach [to outsourcing].”
What he suggests is that Europe is basically a fragmented market with strong national interests that interfere in the regional decision-making processes. That brings to mind commonly held perceptions of the European mosaic of responses where prospects such as outsourcing stir revolutions in one place while being welcomed with open arms elsewhere. “The way I regard it, though, is through the window of opportunity, especially for the BPO sector, that Europe is not sufficiently opened to,” concludes CP.
It is true that the austerity measures imposed lately have raised a few eyebrows of many of those sitting comfortably in their executive chairs. For those who had approached retrenchment intelligently, on the other hand, it translated into making business more efficient than it was.
“I keep saying that belt-tightening means cutting down on unnecessary strings by re-engineering and reorganizing the business administration aspect of both private and public sector,” CP says emphatically. “I am amazed at the numerous cases when the work of one department is being wastefully duplicated in that of another. Here you have the financial department collecting information for the regulators followed by the marketing department repeating it for the income authorities and the R&D staff doing the same thing all over again. With slight differences, one process is unnecessarily repeated three times with both the government’s and the company’s costs increasing by the same exponent. Achieving efficiency is also a fine line to walk in that it should not asphyxiate the company by leaving it without resources. Rather, it is a process of spotting and annihilating the self-perpetuating wastefulness.”
Immediacy and the necessity of speed
The message that CP is bringing to Tianjin this fall focuses on immediacy and the necessity of speed. “The means implementation leading to the desired outcome needs to be accompanied by adequate speed from governments, policymakers and businesses alike. Because our world is changing faster than expected, decision-makers cannot afford to lag behind.”
Gurnani lists the ecologic balance and energy efficiency as just some of the challenges that need to be anticipated by enacting the right legal and political frameworks. “In order to reach that, we need meetings like Tianjin where global leaders of today and tomorrow sit down and decide what the course of action will be.” While looking forward to the Tianjin Meeting in terms of collaboration and partnership, whether on global challenges or industry issues, he comments, “I hope to meet participants coming from other parts of the world and work together for a better future, or simply get a different perspective on the outside world.”
It seems that for Chander Prakash Gurnani, the journey to success is as important as its outcome. Maybe this is what it takes to make an outstanding leader.
Article by Linda Ferg