Shiv Nadar tells HCL’s success story. In this episode of ‘Journey to the Top’, entrepreneur-turned-philanthropist Shiv Nadar talks about the inception and evolution of HCL empire and also his visions of philanthropy
Do you plan to induct your daughter into HCL board? Will she replace your position in the company in the future?
As of last year, Roshni was appointed as the CEO and executive director of the HCL Corporation, which is the holding company for the two listed HCL entities — HCL Technologies and HCL Infosystems. She is not involved in either of the technology companies held by the Corporation.
Roshni is a trustee of the Shiv Nadar Foundation, which is created out of HCL Corporation. She is responsible for strategic decision making regarding overall future directions for the Corporation - while the operating companies continue to be professionally run by their respective CEOs and Boards of Directors.
Why did you start HCL?
I started my career with DCM in 1968, where I started heading the DCM Data Products in 1971. DCM’s data products division was already doing some interesting work for the 4-bit microprocessor-based desktop calculators, which were the precursors to the computing machines of today.
At the time of the advent of the 8-bit microprocessor in the 70’s, many people left their jobs including Steve Jobs, Bill Gates – they believed that the microprocessor would change the world, and it did. This bunch also included me and my fellow founders. After conducting robust research we were faced with several choices. The possibilities were endless; however, coming from a strong engineering background, technology was a natural pick. This dream led to the conception of HCL in 1976.
Also Read: Philanthropy is a state of mind: Shiv Nadar.
Who is your role model?
There are many I have learnt from in my life. Vinay Bharat Ram, who mentored me in DCM and offered me a platform to realize my potential by heading the new electronics wing at DCM – the DCM Data Products Division, at a very young age, is someone I admire and respect. Another man I admire is FC Kohli, who is the father of the Indian software industry, for his foresight and vision to lead India into this powerful phenomenon which today has become a major industry for our economy.
Then, there is E. Sreedharan, who has time and again delivered projects in time proving his commitment and competence in establishing an extensive metro network across Indian cities. Andrew Grove is another thinker I admire because of his philosophy of running a business. In a globally dynamic environment it is imperative to constantly question status quo. “Only the paranoid survive” is one of the most important management thoughts most relevant to business environments which exist today.
How are you keeping tab on the things that are happening in your company, which has thousands of people in different regions?
Both HCL Technologies and HCL Infosystems are professionally managed and run by an extremely competent board of directors and their respective CEOs at the helm. As for me, I had stepped back and thrown the key over my shoulder in the 1980s to Ajai Chowdhry for HCL Infosystems, and to Late S. Raman, and then Vineet Nayar for HCL Technologies. HCL’s presence is spread across 29 countries and we have always encouraged local employment in different geographies where the senior management in different countries monitors the operations in their respective regions.
Leaders are empowered at all levels, verticals, horizontals and geographies, to be able to take decisions at their level. The responsibility only cascades upwards so the CEOs and I have a view of what is happening across the businesses. I do view the overall progress of the business during our board meetings and lend any strategic direction when required.
What is your plans after retirement? When do you want to retire?
I have withdrawn from the active management of HCL Technologies and HCL Infosystems, and this has been handed over to an extremely competent Board of Directors and their respective CEOs at the helm, who have been nurtured to manage complex businesses.
Now I only offer strategic vision and direction to the company. My current focus is on taking my entrepreneurial expertise to philanthropy. I am increasingly spending time on the Shiv Nadar Foundation where I am building lasting institutions of excellence of a different sort, whose impact will perhaps be equal if not larger to that of HCL. Many people are aware of what the Shiv Nadar Foundation is doing – My vision is to empower individuals with transformational education to mould leadership. At these institutions, education isn’t about literacy, numeracy or self sufficiency alone, but the kind that builds game changers, world changers.
The key initiatives of the Shiv Nadar Foundation – the SSN Institutions and VidyaGyan – have today come to be among India’s top private engineering colleges and schools. Their core focus is to provide access to world-class education to economically challenged but meritorious sections of the country.
Source: CIOL (www.ciol.com)
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