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Shiv Nadar is not just the Founder & Chairman of HCL but can be termed as the pioneer of the Indian IT industry as well as its chief architect. From a small startup in a one-room tenement to a global technology enterprise, he has pushed his company efficiently and quickly. This was achieved mainly due to the fact that they provide cutting-edge technology at affordable prices. His belief in quality education has led him to emphasize on affordable quality education to meritorious students through his non-profit foundation. Shiv Nadar's belief was "If you want to empower people, give them the tools. There's enough entrepreneurship in this country to take care of the rest."
Early Days
Shiv Nadar was born on January 1, 1946, in Moolaipozhi village, Tuticorin district, Tamil Nadu. His parents were Sivasubramaniya Nadar and Vamasundari Devi. He completed his pre-university degree from Madurai American College. He received his engineering degree in Electrical and Electronics from PSG College of Technology. He started his career at Walchand group's Cooper Engineering in Pune in 1967. He relocated to Delhi in 1968 to work as an engineer for Delhi Cloth Mills Ltd (DCM). Nadar has been fondly nicknamed Magnus (Persian for Wizard) by his friends.

Igniting the Spark

In 1976, he abruptly quit his job at DCM flustering his family and friends with his decision. He wanted to start out on his own and work towards his vision. The exit of IBM from India in the late 70s created a huge vacuum in which he saw a huge opportunity in the field of computers. In 1976, along with six of his colleagues from DCM, he initiated a company, Hindustan Computers (HCL) in a one room tenement in Delhi. They were a group of passionate and committed young men who believed in the growth of the IT industry. At this time, India had just 250 computers. Their company would manufacture and supply computers and office products like copiers.

The company grew rapidly benefiting both from the revolution in the computer field as well as the expertise of the founders. In 1982, HCL came out with its own brand of personal computers. It was a huge gamble that he had taken by quitting a cushy job at DCM. But, the gamble paid off with of course the dedication and perseverance of the team of youngsters.

HCL - The Journey

The growth and evolution of the company can be traced distinctly across three decades. Its growth has been exceptional - from a startup to India's top IT company; transition to software services; and into a global company.

Startup to India's Top IT Company

Shiv Nadar, along with his partners started with Micro comp to sell teledigital calculators under the brand "Televista". In 1976, along with six friends and an initial investment of Rs.1,87,000, he started HCL. The exit of IBM from India provided Shiv Nadar with a wide market space for his personal computer. In 1980 he commenced Far East Computers in Singapore to sell IT hardware. It achieved a breakthrough in imaging technology, enabling computers to read handwritten tax returns. This marked his entry into international market. His foresight and perception can be gauged by his starting NIIT with three others. He could perceive an immediate need for quality and effective computer education at that time and wanted to capture the huge potential in IT education. Nadar was the largest shareholder in NIIT with share holdings till 2003. He developed Busy Bee, Personal Computer solutions as well as UNIX platform based solutions in 1984. HCL grew quickly and by 1987, it was ranked India's no.1 company with revenue of 100 crores.

Transition to Software Services

When HCL becoming the leader in the Indian IT market, Shiv Nadar wanted to expand to the global market. In 1989, he set up HCL America, which could not live up to expectations as the market requirements had been wrongly estimated. HCL joined with HP to create a joint venture HCLHP Ltd. to target the local computing market. HCL was in its second decade and with this venture it could benefit with HP's experience in Outsourced Research and Development. Shiv Nadar entered a sale agreement with Nokia and Ericsson in the mid-90s according to which their products would be circulated in India. The company was gradually expanding and bringing media of communication under its umbrella. With around 40 subsidiaries by 1995, Nadar shifted focus from IT hardware to IT services. In 1996, HCL Consulting was set up to handle IT services and the R&D wing of HCLHP was merged into it. The resulting company was renamed HCL Technologies and soon the joint venture with HP was terminated. By 1998, Nadar's entire businesses were streamlined into five companies - HCL Technologies, HCL Info systems, HCL Comnet, HCL Perot and NIIT.

Global IT Service Company

In 1999, HCL Technologies was made public. It was the second largest IT Company. In 2000, it was started losing its ground with the emergence of Internet. Its competitors had an advantage as they could make the first nip in the Enterprise application services. Nadar tried to salvage HCL with acquisitions. In order to target the BPOs and Financial services market, in 2001, HCL acquired Deutsche Software Limited and Apollo Contact center from BT. Yet, HCL continued its poor performance till 2005. By 2004, the number of companies came down from 5 to 2 - HCL Technologies and HCL Info systems.

HCL has been open-minded regarding partnerships and has been able to benefit and grow from its relations with its partners. It has been actively innovating and creating a variety of partnership models, focusing on risk-reward sharing. Some of the major partners have been Toshiba, Intel, Microsoft, NOKIA, Boeing, IBM and NEC. HCL has been working with Boeing on its 787 Dream liner Flight Management Systems program. It also works with 20 of the world's leading aviation companies. The sustainability program of HCL is based on 4 R's - Responsible Business, Redefine Workplace, Renew Eco System and Repay Society. HCL is a signatory of UN Global Compact and the senior management is active in the World Economic Forum. This enables them to learn and adopt new practices and contribute to public policy dialogue.

Shiv Nadar has followed his distinct style of management - delegation and decentralization. This has helped each of the various branches and work centres to function independently. The company has always followed the "Employees First" policy where employees are not just value creators but agents of change. Individual efforts are amalgamated to focus on positive social activism. He has guided HCL into the "Billion Dollar Club". Shiv Nadar comes across as a humble and grounded person who acknowledges all those who helped him and his company to grow. He is keen to ensure that his associates are secure financially. He is married to Kiran and has a daughter Roshni. Shiv Nadar is an active member of Executive Board of the Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad. Shiv Nadar handed over the mantle of CEO to Vineet Nayar in 2007. Nadar retains the Chairmanship of HCL Technologies and is still the largest shareholder. Roshni Nadar is CEO of HCL Corporation, the investment company.

The Philanthropic Industrialist

Shiv Nadar believed in the power of a sound education. This was the inspiration behind the Shiv Nadar Foundation as he was passionate about providing quality education to deserving students. He believed that this would empower them to join the workforce with requisite skills and in their chosen area. The foundation follows the concept of "Creative Philanthropy" which empowers individuals for social change through transformational education. The Foundation empowers deserving students with limited means socially, physically and intellectually, which will enable them to uplift their communities. Their initiatives include:

Vidyagyan:Aimed to provide quality education to meritorious rural students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The first Vidyagyan School came up in Bulandshahr, Uttar Pradesh on August 8, 2009 on a 20-acre campus. There are plans to set up two more in the state.
Shiv Nadar School:It is a k-12 school which intends to provide children a platform to excel and become leaders in the current changing times. There are plans to open a chain of these schools.
Shiv Nadar University (SNU):The SNU seeks to become a leader in multi-disciplinary research led interaction between faculty and student. It seeks to provide students diverse academic paths by having schools for engineering, natural sciences, business, liberal arts, education and communication. The university is going to be a GREEN project with LEED certification and a Platinum rating for academic and residential buildings.
SSN Institutions:Set up in 1996, comprising of the SSN College of Engineering, the SSN School of Management and Computer Applications and the SSN School of Advanced Software Engineering in Chennai and Tamil Nadu. The foundation's global partnerships which include Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan and the Aichi Institute of Technology, Japan enable the poor but meritorious student benefit from training and faculty from these institutions and provide global exposure. Scholarships of over USD 1 million every year are awarded to the meritorious students. The institution has developed and sustained a network of its alumni who are willing to contribute back both financially as well as academically.
Kiran Nadar Museum of Art:India's first philanthropic private museum was launched on January 23, 2010. Its objective is to provide a platform for display and promotion of art and mainly to support budding artists. It intends to make Indian art visible and accessible to both local as well as global audiences.
Shiv Nadar is a member of the Governing board of Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI). PHFI is a public private initiative by Rajat Gupta to "redress the limited institutional capacity in India for strengthening training, research and policy development in the area of Public Health". He is actively involved to establish quality standards in public health education and create network of innovative efficient India-relevant public health institutes of global standards.
HCL works with UDAYAN which is an NGO for social upliftment of under-privileged children and is committed to sustainable development.
Awards and Honors
*Mr. Nadar is Dataquest IT Man of the Year, 1995.
*CNBC Business Excellence award, January 2005.
*Listed by "India Today" in the Power List of India's leaders, February 2005.
*Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2007.
*Honorary Fellowship of All India Management Association (AIMA), 2006.
*Padma Bhushan Award by President of India, January 2008.
*Business person of the Year Award by UK Trade & Investment India, 2009.
*CNBC Asia Business Leader Award for Corporate Social Responsibility, November 2009.
*Dataquest Lifetime Achievement Award, 2010.
*Featured on Forbes list of 48 Heroes of Philanthropy in the Asia-Pacific region, 2011.
*The President of India appointed him the Chairman, Board of Governors, IIT Kharagpur, March 2011.
*The University of Madras and IIT Kharagpur have awarded him an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Science for his outstanding contribution to pioneering IT in India.
*Case study on HCL is now taught at Harvard. The case study focuses on HCL's unique transformation over the last 2 years and highlights HCL's Employee First philosophy.
*"The world's most modern management" with reference to Employee First - Fortune Magazine.
*The TIME magazine has referred to HCL as an "intellectual clean room where its employees could imagine endless possibilities."
*"The world has caught up with Nadar's vision of a networked future, and the results are shaking up enterprises, economies and government around the world", TIME magazine, February 1997.
*Ranked 126th richest person in the world estimated personal net worth $3.7 billion, Forbes List of Billionaires, 2004.


"Institution-building is all what I've done. You have to have the courage to think this is what it should be 10 years later. I want the students to be extremely competitive in every field of endeavor and have high self-esteem. Self-esteem is a very big thing because where these students come from, it's a casualty. You've got to build it up from scratch."

"You have to have predictability in business, and it's not the simplest thing in the world. Beyond a certain point, the scalability of people will give way. Then some contracting form or something else will come about. Transformation is beckoning, and it is right around the corner."

"India will collapse if we have only engineers and doctors. Companies don't have people to communicate. If you focus on placements alone, you will get low quality people. When do we create more Shiv Nadars? There is also a need for well-round education: we need to provide training skills and this is what Shiv Nadar University does."

Not only has Shiv Nadar created a global company, he has also picked a worthy successor to sustain it. His philanthropy is realistic in the sense that he has focused on two areas -- education and health which are very vital to develop any economy.

Hope viewers caught up the spark...