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Tech Mahindra: Getting The Job Done

The man has scripted a turnaround at Tech Mahindra with strategic acquisitions made to strengthen competencies

Photo Credit : Ritesh Sharma

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Popularly known as ‘CP’ within his peer group, C. P. Gurnani believes in a leadership style that is collaborative, inclusive and non-assuming.

His ideology, he says, comes from his biggest inspirations in life: his grandfather, father and mother who taught him core values like honesty, simplicity and perseverance.

Gurnani joined Tech Mahindra in November 2004, when the company was known (read hardly known) as Mahindra British Telecom (MBT). He played a pivotal role in the company’s transformational journey during the acquisition of Satyam Computer Services in 2009. But when B.Ramalinga Raju, the founder of Satyam, confessed to inflating his company’s accounts by over $1 billion, it seemed the only way Satyam could go was downhill.

So, when Anand Mahindra acquired it that very year, he knew that Satyam sorely needed a change in leadership if it were to have a shot at reclaiming past glory. Mahindra decided to bring in Gurnani, then heading international operations at Tech Mahindra, an IT firm owned by the Mahindra Group.

Gurnani, who had earlier held leadership positions in technology firms such as HCL, HCL Hewlett-Packard, HCL Perot Systems and Perot Systems (India), was christened chief executive officer of Satyam Mahindra as he set out on a journey to revive the firm. His inimitable style of leadership, combined with his sharp focus on customer experience, helped the firm grow.

Today, the merged entity is known as Tech Mahindra and is widely known and revered in the industry. The company has seen a meteoric rise with an average four-year sales growth of 52.3 per cent and an average four-year profit after tax growth of 75.8 per cent.

“The ability to take some calculated risks has been one of the biggest strengths of the company,” says Gurnani.

In keeping with the pace of change and filling gaps in its portfolio, Tech Mahindra’s growth has largely come from a string of strategic acquisitions made to consistently strengthen its competencies. For instance, the acquisition of Lightbridge Communications Corporation gave Tech Mahindra an opportunity to offer full range of network services and integrated infrastructure solutions to communication service providers as well as to the ecosystem of partners catering to the communication sector.

The acquisition of Sofgen, a niche consulting and services company, gave the IT giant an opportunity to enhance expertise and to implement modernised core banking and transformation services capabilities.

In 2014, Tech Mahindra acquired a majority stake of 75 per cent in FixStream Networks to strengthen its big data and analytics portfolio.

Last year, the company announced the acquisition of a majority stake in Italian automotive design and engineering services firm Pininfarina. The transaction has enhanced the engineering design and services footprint (currently contributing 7 per cent to revenues) of Tech Mahindra.

Speaking about this acquisition, brokerage firm Prabhudas Lilladher says: “The acquisition is marginally EPS dilutive in the short term; however, Tech Mahindra will benefit from revenue synergy, client acquisition and the resultant cross selling.”

Leading The Transformation
Clearly, Gurnani knows what he’s doing.

A chemical engineer from the National Institute of Technology, Rourkela, Gurnani has grown into an accomplished business leader with extensive experience in international business development, startups and turnarounds, joint ventures, and mergers and acquisitions. He has led Tech Mahindra’s transformational journey from the front, contributing significantly to the company’s strategy and philosophy.

In the fiscal year 2014-15, the company’s consolidated revenues rose 20.1 per cent to Rs 22,621 crore from Rs 18,831 crore in the previous year, led by acquisitions as well as organic growth. The number of customers increased to 767 at the end of fiscal 2014-15 from 629 in the previous year.

Gurnani is leading the way for the more than 1,00,000 people that Tech Mahindra employs across various geographies.

All he asks of his employees is three things.

“Be fair, work hard and have fun,” he says.

ayushman@businessworld.in; @ayushmanb