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SPARK OF THE CORPORATE

“In today’s world, customer expectations are changing from doing what you are told to do to proactively suggesting opportunities for value add…..”

Arvind Thakur is the CEO & Joint Managing Director of NIIT Technologies, a leading IT solutions organization, with customers in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. With the increase of IT literacy across the country, NIIT has rapidly grown in its domain, adopting a new approach to customers, and new robust outsourcing and dual-shore delivery models. It has over 220 clients across 16 countries in selected industry segments.

Arvind is an active member of company’s board, overseas subsidiaries and domestic joint ventures with ESRI Inc. and currently serves as Director of an innovative venture, Hole-in-the Wall Education Ltd. He is also on the Board of Management of NIIT University, a not for profit institution

Early Life & Education

Arvind Thakur holds a B.Tech degree in Mining Engineering from IIT, Kharagpur (1976) where he received the Institute Silver medal for ranking first in the department. Thereafter he pursued post-graduation in Industrial Engineering from National Institute of Industrial Engineering in 1978.

So the foundations for brilliant career were well and trully laid:

Career Spark

Arvind commenced his career with BHEL, before joining NIIT in 1985. Under Arvind’s stewardship, NIIT Technologies was assessed at global standards of development. It bagged an ISO 9001:2000 Certification and was assessed at Level 5 of SEI-CMMi and People-CMM Frameworks. NIIT also received BS 7799 Information Security Management Certification. Arvind has also acted as an elected member of the Executive Council of NASSCOM, the association which represents Indian IT & BPO industry.It has been a wonderful journey for Arvind Thakur to participate in a dream growth story of IT Industry. While NIIT has always been known for being the leader in education and training, what is little known is also that it pioneered a number of things in the software business too.

As a CEO, Arvind learnt that a leader must create an environment that is challenging and fulfilling, nurtures a culture of innovation, where it’s ok to make mistakes when they contribute to organizational learning.Arvind believes it is for NASSCOM to nurture and enable EC needs to focus on this high potential area and this should find reflection in the organization’s structure as well.

The Idea

Arvind Thakur has always been on a constant search for new services to enhance business value for NIIT’s customers. To bring the company on a lucrative path, he transformed the business from a horizontal tech services to an industry solutions provider, changed the business model to embrace offerings which focus on delivering business value, enhancedservice experience to meet changing expectations of customers and nurtured a culture of innovation to drive “New Ideas &More Value”.

The company & its success

Leading NIIT since 1985, Arvind took the responsibility of growing the company’s IT Services business by evolving the organization from a dominant training business into a software powerhouse, converting the art form of programing into an engineering discipline; pioneering offshore execution, drivingquality culture embracing highest levels of execution maturity conforming to global standards and reinventing business post the dot com meltdown to ultimately spin off software business into an independent listed entity.

According to Arvind, the best leadership decision he took was to set the direction to remain sharply focused even at the cost of exiting from some segments, to build specialization and thereby creating differentiation to compete effectively. As a result, NIIT’s business doubled during 2004-2008 and operating margins improved more than one percentage point each year during 2004-2007. Even during the slowdown of 2008-2010, while revenue growth slowed, profits continue to increase as a result of this decision.

During the last few years, NIIT came out very strong from the economic slowdown of 2008. This wasbecause of the specialization built in the industry segments of focus. Ever since the company has embarked on its next phase of transformation to provide enhanced business value with investments to create new business lines such as managed services and IP-led solutions. These have helped further consolidate the company’s position in the market and helped achieve industry leading revenue growth.

Today NIIT has a strong brand presence in India, and what works best for it is the specialization it possesses in the area of Geographic Information System. The GIS has enabled NIIT to uniquely engage with the Government. According to Arvind, NIIT has very large and significant engagement with the Airport Authority of India and Airport Operations Control Centre which manages 10 airports and handles 96,000 flights and millions of passengers. The displays at airports like Chennai, Kolkata and Guwahati run on NIIT solutions.

Arvind with its pioneering leadership made NIIT engage in the largest SAP Implementation Project for comprehensive financial management systems for Andhra Pradesh government and for theSales Tax Project for the Maharashtra Government. NIIT is currently executing CCTNS (Crime and Criminal Tracking Network Systems) Project for Ministry of Home Affairs to automate all police stations across 5 States. There are deliberations going on about smart cities and digital world. Arvind Thakur calls these concepts colossal initiatives.

Awards & Accolades:

In 2012 he was facilitated with prestigious Global Gold Stevie Award as Executive of the Year in Computer Services.

Professional Affiliations:

Active member of the core team since early years of NIIT and of many industry associations &societies
Elected member of the Executive Council of NASSCOM, the association which represents Indian IT & BPO industry
Director of an innovative venture, Hole-in-the Wall Education Ltd
Board Member of Management of NIIT University
Director of NIIT Technologies Ltd., since June 12, 2004
Director of ROOM Solutions Limited
Director of NIIT Limited and NIIT GIS Limited.
Member of Stakeholders' Relationship Committee and Corporate Social Responsibility Committee
Quotes
 In today’s world, customer expectations are changing from doing what you are told to do to proactively suggesting opportunities for value add
 It is important for a leader to anticipate changes. The dotcom bust of the late 1990s holds out important lessons on the vagaries of being unidirectional.
 A person who stands tall not just in good times but more so during adversity.
 Today's youth that is born in the Digital Age are tech savvy and want quick answers outlining the difference between traditional and digital communication.
 I would say that this focus was our first phase of transformation. We have now embarked on our next phase of transformation to provide enhanced business value with investments to create new business lines such as managed services and IP-led solutions. These have helped further consolidate our position in the market and helped achieve industry leading revenue growth.
 Innovation is a way of life in our industry
 There’s a huge amount of investment in IT and they are all being directed towards business transformation.
 The starting point for developing smart cities is to plan them.
 The past few years the Government agenda has been to drive technology adoption and the huge programme of Digital India creates a big opportunity for all tech providers, including Tier-1 Systems Integrators.
 In the travel space, customers are all mobile, hence the mobile platform becomes crucial. Every client wants his/her website to be refreshed and be more responsive and we work closely with them.
 People engaged in organizations should have the right capability of leading a business conversation and not technology conversation with the customer.
 Re-skilling and talent are definitely a concern because things are moving much faster in the technology world than the availability of talent. The writing on the wall is quite clear. The world is moving from - in premise to the cloud, customized work to platforms, to cite a few changed scenarios. That’s the way the modern businesses will happen and obviously the solution providers need to change and build those capabilities in terms of manpower skill sets
 Golf is a great social game. It’s the only game which you can play with people with unequal skills. It’s very rewarding as we can meet new people and built strong relationships
 Leaders have to often carry the cross of others’ wrong doings and inefficiencies, the global banking sector today, for instance. What role can good leadership play to counter balance this image?
 Leaders need to demonstrate greater transparency and integrity, and ensure proper governance structures are in place to address perceptions created by any external wrongdoings.
 Every crisis presents an opportunity. The opportunity arises from the discontinuity created by the crisis.
 A leader in such an environment needs to put in place an effective performance ethic programme with clear lines of accountability and have systems in place that transparently track business drivers to provide comfort to the promoter that things are in control.
 Effective communication is the key to successful dealings.

Hope viewers caught up the spark…

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