The Ten Who Shaped the Decade

DQI Bureau
New Update

“A whole decade has come to an end and we still dont know

what to call it! It's not a new dilemma: it comes every 100 years and

yet after two millennia we still havent solved the problem.”


Whether we call it 'noughties' or nothing this has been a decade when
Indian IT has seen progress not witnessed in the last half a century.

Naturally, selecting ten personalities who had the maximum inpact is

not just an onerous but almost impossible task. And naturally there

will be lot of arguments and debates; and we will still not arrive at a

consensus. The only logic as Dataquest we will like to forward are that

we have tried spanning across all sectors, be it hardware, software,

services, e-gov, channel and else. And the fact that more than five of

them are recepients of at least either the Dataquest IT Person of the

Year or Pathbreaker awards during this decade bears ample testimony

that our selection does have some merit.

Here, in the final instalment, we present ten personalities shaped

Indian IT in the noughties.

1. Krishnan Jaishankar: The
Channel King

The biggest channel event
of the decade was when the #2 channel vendor acquired the #1 vendor to

create a behemoth of a distributor; it happened in 2004 when href="">


Micro acquired href="">Tech

Pacific—the new Ingram

ended up being the mother of

all resellers. Once the blockbuster merger got over, the need of the

hour was to identify the right person to oversee the transition and

handhold the entire cultural synergy. That man was href="">K

Jaishankar, the

former CEO of Tech Pacific, who in 2004 took over the reins of the

merged entity, Ingram Micro India.


align="left">Integrating two major

distribution houses was no mean task. Working out their synergies,

identifying business divisions through product groups, integrating the

team and leveraging the presence--it involved intense brain storming

and close coordination. And this is where Jaishankar played the stellar

role; after all he was handling almost all the leading tech vendors in

the country including Intel, HP, Samsung and HCL among others. Another

major challenge in the initial years for the new entity was the rapid

rise of eSys. Taking advantage of the confusion caused by the merger,

eSys was rapidly gaining grounds at the expense of Ingram Micro.

However, Jaishankar was steadfast and still managed to retain the core

principals; subsequently, when the eSys bubble fizzled out, Ingram

Micro managed to retain its top position and start growing again.

align="left">Jaishankar took utmost

care to ensure that the integration leads to a strong team at Ingram

Micro India. They subsequently had a much larger team with clearly

defined roles, up to the branch level, focusing on specific product

lines and business functions. Not only that, having realized that

linear growth is no more possible to sustain long time, he ensured that

the company moves into non-IT products, particularly taking advantage

of the mobile boom the country witnessed in the last few years.


Manoj Chugh: The Inveterate Salesman

has been the suave marketing guru who redefined the business fortunes

of two MNCs over the last decade. When he joined Cisco in the late 90s,

it was just another networking vendor competing with the likes of 3Com,

Enterasys, Bay Networks and Extreme. By the time he quit Cisco in 2003,

not only was it the undisputed leader in networking, but had more than

three times the market share. In fact, so dominant had Cisco become in

India during that time, no one still comes anywhere close to it even

after nearly seven years. Even more spectacular has been his stint an

EMC: when he joined in 2003, it had a small liasion office in India

with hardly any revenues worth its name. Today href="">EMC

is not just the storage leader in India, with its overall storage,

security (through RSA) and virtualization (thorough Vmware) portfolio,

it is now one the biggest tech vendors in the country.

Not only did Chugh enhance EMC business by strengthening his
relationships with business partners, he helped EMC foray into

verticals like telecom and technology where traditionally they had

barely registered. (maybe his Cisco legacy helped in that case) Over

this period, EMC has grown by over 500%. Under Manoj's leadership, EMC

committed to invest over $500 million in the market by 2010 and a major

part of that has already taken place. Most of this has gone not just in

increasing EMC revenues, but also in enancing the EMC India Centre of

Excellence team in Bangalore—along with its head Sarv


Chugh has ensured a One EMC voice to the market and more than 3,000

employees in India. Earlier in Cisco too, he more than tripled the

organization's revenue and positioned Cisco as the market leader across

diverse verticals in the networking segment. In May 2008, he was

promoted to the newly created position of leading EMC's Global Accounts

program in APJ, a role that he continues to hold. Nevertheless, when

Alok Ohrie quit as EMC India head few months back, he was given the

dual responsibility of India too—that's Chugh's brand equity


the EMC setup.

So what has been the secret behind Chugh's success? Some people
attribute it to his marketing skills, others to his excellent PR while

others believe it to be cut-throat sales skills acquired in Wipro and

HCL—two of India's best nurturing grounds for sales


There are some critics who complain that much of Chugh's success owes

to his excellent equation with the media, but it's hard to believe that

could have taken him this far, especially with toplines and

bottomlines. Rather, it's more a combination of all these skills that

has made Chugh the champion he is. And don't always go by that smiling

visage—this author saw the hard taskmaster in him when he


one events head that “if you were in my company, today you


have lost your job.”

Pramod Bhasin: The Face of Indian BPO

Bhasin's story though the decade

is not just the story of the

transformation of GE to Genpact. Rather, in one way, his story also

sums up the strategic journey of the Indian BPO sector. From the pomp

of the captives in the 90s (American Express and GE started the

revolution) and early 2000s to the gradual rise of the third parties

and the emergence of an integrated IT-BPO player. The metamorphosis

from GECIS to today's Genpact under Bhasin's tutelage therefore mirrors

India's BPO journey through a decade. If href="">

Raman Roy is the father of

Indian BPO, Bhasin arguably is the torchbearer or better still the face

of the BPO decade.

The metamorphosis from the largest captive BPO to the largest third
party BPO player was not achieved in one stroke though. GE Capital

International Services (GECIS) was established by GE in late 1997 as

its captive India based BPO. GE sold 60% stake in GECIS to General

Atlantic and Oak Hill Capital Partners in 2005 and subsequently hived

off Genpact into an independent business. Not only did Bhasin help

Genpact step out of GE's shadow, he guided it through its listing in

2007. Beyond Genpact too, Bhasin as the face of Indian BPO has been at

the vanguard of Indian IT; he took over his current stint as Nasscom

Chairman right in the Satyam aftermath.

Under Bhasin's guidance, Genpact has so many firsts to its credit that
some of them often do not receive adequate attention; its emergence as

a dual BPO and IT services provider would certainly count high on this

list. There was a time when IT services players talked about integrated

IT-BPO play. Genpact came from the other side of the fence and

successfully showed that it could do that too, with a quarter of its

revenues now coming from IT services. And while Bhasin nurtured the

baby when GE spawned it, in its adulthood he has been instrumental in

reducing the GE dependence. Today Genpact has got an

impressive list

of clients like Nissan, GlaxoSmithKline, Wachovia, BUPA, BT Financial

Group and Honeywell.

Vineet Nayar: The Differentiator Who Found his Niche

Though CEO href="">Vineet
Nayar could take maximum credit

for elevating HCL

Tech to the href="">SWITCH

sextet or WITCH (with Satyam becoming Mahindra

Satyam and falling out of the club), he has never been the darling of

the Fifth Estate like a Narayan Murthy, Azim Premji or a Nandan

Nilekani. Forget others, he has not even received the same adulation as

a Shiv Nadar or an Ajai Chowdhry from his own group. Nevertheless,

under his tutelage HCL in this decade has become a global name in the

offshore outsourcing map; his strategy to make HCL different (after all

it had no option with Infosys, TCS and Wipro ruling the roost) has paid

off in large measures with HCLT today considered to be a leader in the

space of infrastructure management as well as SAP integration.

It was quite early in the decade that Nayar identified the potential of


pioneered the Remote Delivery Model and a

strong process based on ITIL and as a result many global analyst firms

today rank HCL Tech as the #1 in the RIM space. (RIM) is one of the

business engines for HCL, which showed year-on-year growth of 120% in

remote infrastructure services in Europe alone over 2006. The Indian

provider has a modest number of delivery and support centers but has a

strong process based on ITIL and a clear vision and road map for

service enhancement. This positions HCL as a promising company in RIM

and the highest-ranked Indian offshore firm in this market. RIM is now

one of the main business engines for HCL; in fact, it showed

year-on-year growth of 120% in Europe alone over the last few years.

The acquisition of href="">Axon
in 2008 (the largest acquisition in the Indian

IT sector) that catapulted HCLT to the top league as an SAP integrator

was another feather in Nayar's cap. As the leading global SAP

implementor now, it looks like HCLT is now threatening to steal away a

portion of the high value SAP installation market from Western

outsourcers. Even on the BPO front, Nayar was one of the early birds to

realise the potential of volume work for European market with direct

presence there. HCL BPO was one of the first to set up call centers in

Belfast; today it has one of the largest presence in Northern Ireland

to address European customers. Nayar's differetiation strategy extended

beyond RIM, SAP and call center also to niche verticals like aerospace

and engineering services where too HCL has carved out its space.

Sanjeev Bikhchandani: The Internet Entrepreneur

If Rediff was the pioneering Indian dotcom venture, it was Naukri that
best epitomized the journey of an Indian online entity over the last

decade. Being launched in 1998, Naukri went through the dotcom boom,

the subsequent bust-up and finally the transformation post 2002 when

not only it bulit up a viable business nodel but redefined the Indian

job market dynamics altogether. href="">

Sanjeev Bikhchandani, the man

behind it

all, therefore surely deserves to be in the list of decade's

destiny-makers; after all, not only has Naukri become almost synonymous

with job search, Bikhchandani is now an acknowledged pathbreaker in the

Internet domain.

After launching href="">Naukri
in 1997, continuing losses for

two years made

him go the VC way. This coincided with the dotcom frenzy and also saw

competition with numerous other jobsites coming up around the same

time. However, even when many of them went kaput during the dotcom bust

Bikhchandani did not lost track—there was no question of

closing down

Naukri. In fact, the visionary in him had foreseen that the online job

market will become big during the decade; true to that, the Monsters

and Dices came in, but Naukri was still able to hold on to its top


Under his leadership Naukri became the first website to get listed on
the Indian stock exchange in 2006, a total vindication that the online

model does work in case there is a viable business model. However, his

zeal for doing more forward looking projects did not end with Naukri.

He went on to launch more popular sites in the Internet space,

including and—two more popular

areas onlike

like matrimonial and real estate. Not only is Bikhchandani a successful

Internet entrepreneur, he redefined the complete online business model

for India during this decade.


Karnik: The IT Man of the Decade

When Nasscom founder president href="">Dewang
Mehta passed away untimely in

April 2001 at Sydney, the question everyone asked was, after Dewang

who? Once the subsequent headhunt undertaken by IT industry veterans

for a new Nasscom president zeroed in on Kiran Karnik after a few

months, the question on everyone's lip was, Kiran who? Though href="">Karnik

had a chequered career with ISRO and finally launching Discovery

Channel in India, his exposure to IT was negligible. The general

consensus was that not only would Karnik stumble on carrying forward

Dewang's legacy, but by the time he gains some knowledge on Indian IT

services dynamics, Nasscom itself would become defunct or redundant as

an association.

The affable, mild-mannered Karnik however proved all the detractors and
doubting Thomases wrong. Though his Nasscom stint did not require the

extensive lobbying that Dewang indulged in, he guided the Indian

services ship through some choppy waters. One big crisis was prior to

the US Presidential Elections of 2004 when John Kerry had managed to

raise the anti-outsourcing pitch to a crescendo, the mood amongst

Indian software service providers was downbeat. And it was Karnik-led

Nasscom's efforts around the globe that helped Indian companies tide

over that crisis.

But Karnik's role at Nasscom cannot be just looked at as a crisis
manager; if Dewang had started an association and given it the global

image, Karnik helped in making it an organization. While many blamed

Nasscom as the exclusive club for the Big Five, during Karnik's reign

new initiatives like SME forum, one involving educational

institutes (to tackle the manpower shortage), gender diversity program,

anti-poaching agreement among BPOs and a national database of employees

were conceived. Unfortunately, the last two never materialized

successfully but that should not detract from Karnik's achievement.

And even post-Nasscom, the Indian IT's crisis man of the hour was
called back again to head the government appointed board to retrieve

the Satyam situation. The fiasco had threatened to not just finish off

one company, but undermine all the efforts of Indian IT services

industry for the last two decades. The Karnik-led board however

motivated and managed to retain most of the Satyam workforce during the

troubled times, ensured that most customers stayed back, abided with

all regulatory and investigative bodies and mechanisms in India and US,

successfully found a new respectable owner Tech Mahindra through a fair

and transparent bidding process and created a new model for corporate

governance in India. For his illustrious role in building upon Dewang's

efforts at Nasscom and for saving the face of Indian IT globally, Kiran

Karnik is arguably the “the Indian IT Man of the



Nilekani: From Flat World to Imagining Unique India

One man who ran Karnik close to being Indian IT's “Man of the
Decade” is the chairman of the Unique ID (UID) Authority of

India set up under the aegis of the Planning Commission and the former

CEO and co-founder of Infosys, Nandan Nilekani. It was in March 2002

that he took over as Infosys CEO from the iconic Narayana Murthy and

presided over some unique milestones for the company. Overseeing Infy's

biggest ever acquisition (Australian telecom services vendor Expert) in

2003, touching the billion dollar topline mark in 2004, then

subsequently $2bn and $3bn in 2006 and 2007...., expanding its global

delivery model across newer geographies-Nilekani could take

credit for many of Infy achievements during the decade.

On a more strategic level, if href="">Narayana
Murthy could be credited for

leading the entrepreneur-founder in the 90s to lay the foundation for a

scalable Infosys, Nilekani led Infosys 2.0 during the noughties in

grooming the next-gen leaders, empowering them and creating career

plans for them till he handed over reins to Kris Gopalakrishnan in

2007. He devised the theory of organizational longevity that focused on

creating a set of leaders such that “collectively they were

capable and individually they were more capable in some of the

things.” (reinstating the Infosys principle of the sum being

more equal than the parts). Another leadership trait in Nilekani that

shone through the decade was his ability to connect dots at various

levels and then correlating it to present the big picture along with a

strategy to match. Nothing illustrates better throughout the decade

than his obsession with creating the longevity of the corporation-going

beyond generations of leaders-while continuing to thrive, prosper and

retain its value and culture, the basic DNA.

But it would be demeaning to Nilekani to restrict his contribution only
to the growth of his own company. As one of the global faces of Indian

IT, he has performed stellar role for associations like Nasscom and TiE

(he founded the Bangalore chapter); in fact nothing could illustrate

his global image better than when Tom Friedman acknowledged him to be

the inspiration and the face behind The World is Flat (arguably the

business book of the decade). Accolades like Forbes

“Businessman of the Year” for Asia (2006), Fortune

“Businessman of the Year” for Asia (2003) as well

as being one of the youngest entrepreneurs to joing Global Top 20

leaders on the World Economic Forum Foundation in 2006

further enhanced his image as India's face on the global business map.

In 2009, he was placed in the Time 100 list of “World's Most

Influential People”. The icing on the cake was the Padma

Bhushan in 2006.

But again, it would be erroneous to judge Nilekani only as a business
champion. After all this is one man who admits that he has been

unusually lucky to achieve so much success. While his personal

aspirations are fulfilled, his larger public goal is to contribute in

whatever way he can to help India take advantage of this

“historical opportunity. “India

is unusually placed to do well in terms of outsourcing, demographics

and the global economy. This is something that comes to a country once

in a millennium.” (from his 2009 book Imagining

India) And in 2009, he walked the talk by quitting his plum position in

Infosys to become the chairperson of the unique ID authority

at Manmohan Singh's behest where he enjoys the rank of a Cabinet

Minister. The UID program will provide an identity card/number to every

citizen like the Social Security system in US and Europe; to lead a

project of such magnitude it's almost impossible India could have found

anyone else.


Ramadorai: Ta-ta, Indian IT's Silent Warrior

In a career spanning three decades at TCS, href="">Subramaniam
Ramadorai has lived the life of

the Indian IT industry-if the first two decades were spent

more on first building and then growing the organization, the first

decade of the century saw him overseeing the DNA transmutation that TCS

underwent in the last few years. Without even delving into such

quasi-strategic areas, Ram's achievements during the noughties would be

more than what a lesser mortal would achieve in one lifetime. He was

the force behind the CMC acquisition in 2001 and its integration into

the TCS fold; he would do the same again with Tata Infotech in 2006.

And as part of his grandiose global delivery model with platform

offerings, he engineered the acquisitions of Comicron, Pearl BPO, AFS

and FNS amongst others.

In between, he drew TCS out of the closet and confines of a
privately-held company and with the help and consent of Tata

Sons, led it into being a publicly listed company. The listing in

itself was a much-awaited landmark event, and it catapulted Ram to the

full glare of the media and the investor community when the IPO was

announced in 2004. Infosys has always been the darling of the investors

and analysts, but gradually he changed the image of TCS post-IPO as it

gradually gained mindshare across communities. It was again in 2004 (a

pivotal year for both TCS and Ram) that it became the first Indian IT

services company to touch the billion dollar mark. That gave rise to

even bigger dreams-that of achieving $10bn by 2010 (ten by

ten); though TCS fell well short, even as Ram handed over the baton to

Chandra in 2009, TCS is a $7bn company employing over 1,10,000 people.

Forget IT, how many Indian companies from any sector you can name

having that sort of workforce? Apart from some PSUs, the railways, and

the defence, how many CEOs have to manage

On top if you add that this workforce comprises people of 67
nationalities across 47 countries spread across the globe, Ram's

achievement is reflected in the true perspective. And to ensure that

TCS still continues to grow against global benchmarks. This clearly

called for new measures to culturally integrate people, to measure

their performance and productivity levels, design reward and appraisal

processes. Further, business processes needed to be fine-tuned to

extract maximum productivity and efficiency. Through the use of

technology and process measures, Ram and his team have been able to

manage the organization scale-up in terms of people and revenues and

profitability. Clearly a garagantuan task achieved by a man who has

perenially remained in the shadows of other CEOs of some of his closest


This global spread helped TCS absorb much of the slowdown impact too.
After all, under Ram the company has established businesses in diverse

geographies like South America (Chile, Ecuador, Uruguay) to Australia

to Sweden. Add to it a thriving domestic business pepped up by the CMC

and Tata Infotech acquisitions-TCS is a particularly strong

name in Indian e-governance handling marquee projects like MCA 21 and

Passport Seva. The downturn in US would get offset by business from

some other geography. Even as he enhanced the company's global model

and made TCS the crowning jewel of the Tata empire, his lasting legacy

was handpicking and subsequently grooming Chandra as the future captain

of the TCS ship.


Dhawan: The First Lady of Indian IT

Gender diversity, corporate female emancipation, breaking the glass
ceiling are issues hotly debated in Indian IT today. While women CEOs

are not rare a species in India Inc. any more, the situation was

different at the turn of the century, especially in the IT sector. In

light of what transpired during this decade, you have to salute the

achievements of href="">Neelam

Dhawan, who headed not one, but

the India operations of two of the world's largest technology companies

during this decade. The noughties started with Dhawan in Compaq (after

nearly two decades in the otright male bastion of sales &

marketing at HCL and IBM); subsequently after HP acquired Compaq, she

moved to a senior position in HP. In 2005, she quit HP and joined as

head of Microsoft India; three years hence in 2008 it was homecoming to

HP, now as its India head.

Looking dispassionately at Dhawan's achievements shorn of the gender
glasses, the results have been spectacular. Her two years at Microsoft

has seen the company growing steadily at 26%; in fact Microsoft lost

way in FY09 subsequent to Neelam's departure. Though the slowdown is

cited as the principal factor impacting Microsoft business in India,

who knows what could have happened if Neelam had remained at its

Gurgaon headquarters. In fact, geographically she has just moved across

the road, with HP headquarters too being at Gurgaon. Though her first

year in charge had seen stagnancy in HP (coinciding with the economic

downturn), the TSG arm (services) which she separately headed grew

spectacularly at 33%. The addition of MphasiS (currently finctioning as

an independent company) would make the services portfolio even bigger.

Her biggest contribution at TSG has been smoothly and seamlessly
integrating the EDS operations and leveraging that acquisition to

bolster the HP business. And even more crucially in troubled times for

PSG and IPG, somehow ensuring that the three entities work in unison in

India and losses suffered at two of them are somewhat offset by the

roaring successes of TSG. It's extremely difficult to manage these

three separate entities of HP-after all they function almost

as different companies. And in a slowdown year when dip in consumer

business badly affected IPG and PSG, maintaining that co-ordinating

status quo was an even bigger challenge. In Microsoft too, she presided

over the hi-profile Vista and Xbox launches in India, ensured Microsoft

business took off big time among the government (14 states beating off

the Linux challenge) and even launching a Windows-Linux

interoperability lab in Bengaluru in line with changing realities.

However, it's futile to look at Neelam Dhawan's achievements only by
numbers and milestones. The Chandra Kocchhars and Naina Kidwais may

have received more newsprint and primetime space being in the banking

sector (more understandable to the aam aadmi), but Dhawan's record of

heading Microsoft and HP within a decade is phenomenal not just as a

woman, but as any business leader. And that too in a country where

women still voluntarily sacrifice their professional careers at the

behest of husband and children; obviously having an understanding

husband and mother-in-law (who quit her job to look after her children)

helped. Dhawan, after all, is not just another woman or another IT

leader of the decade; she is the benchmark for the professional Indian

woman of the next decade.


Chandrasekhar: The Father of Indian e-Gov

E-governance is 20% 'e' and 80% 'governance'. So says R Chandrashekhar.
He should know. After all, he is the man driving it all. And has been

doing it relentlessly throughout the decade. His sojourn with

e-governance started in Andhra Pradesh; when Chandrababu Naidu was

defining the e-gov paradigm for India and turning Hyderabad into

'Cyberabad', Chandrasekhar was Naidu's Man Friday. He was the man who

established the first Department of Information Technology in the

country in Andhra Pradesh, and also heralded some of the most

innovative and path-breaking efforts including the public-private

partnership (PPP) concept in e-governance projects. He was the Andhra

IT Secretary till December '99 (strictly speaking his contribution then

shouldn't count in the noughties) but during his stint as CMD of AP

Industrial Infrastructure Corporation he pioneered the HITEC city

project on a PPP model.

During his stint in Andhra Pradesh, other than HITEC city
Chandrashekhar is also credited with the conceptualization, planning

and implementation of various key initiatives including the setting up

of the IIIT in Hyderabad and evolving a comprehensive policy framework

for the adoption of IT in governance. The comprehensive framework drawn

up by him helped in catapulting the state to the forefront of IT

development in the country-previously e-gov was just a

concept and was restricted to procuring computers for specific

departments. Pioneering the concept, Andhra Pradesh's IT revolution set

the tone for e-governance in India and emerged as a role model for the

other states. That way, it would not be an exaggeration to annoit

Chandrasekhar as the 'father of e-governance' in India.

From 2002 onwards first as Joint Secretary (e-governance), Department
of IT, and now finally as Secretary, he has been applying his Andhra

learnings on a national scale. He has been responsible in this capacity

for formulation of national polices, agendas, strategies and action

plans for e-Gov. The plum of the pudding was his role in developing the

National e-Governance Plan (NeGP); equally important has been his role

in building the national framework on CSC and SWAN as well as driving

the evolution of the concept of integrated service delivery in

e-governance projects. While most of these projects were conceived

during the first UPA regime, the momentum slowed down a year prior to

the elections. It has again picked up in 2009 with the second UPA reign

firmly established; and Chandrasekhar now as the secretary has been the

catalyst in driving this acceleration.

That Chandrasekhar has served under the NDA regime as well as two UPA
regime, not to mention Chandrababu Naidu (who is now the 'invisible'

third front) not only proves his longevity, but also that his strong

administrative track record transcends all sorts of political

allegiance. In India, bureaucrats are often transferred whenever there

is a change in political regime-Chandrasekhar has been a

notable exception. He admits that while there are a lot of procedural

barriers he has had to work with throughout this decade, there are

leeways also and one has to learn to find innovative ways of doing

things. At the same time the man says he was fortunate that there was

room for experimentation and he operated at a time in the noughties

when the changes and experimentations are possible and supported by the