In Part I we gave you a little background into Tiger’s rise to prominence and how he’s going to behave a little differently from Pramod. Now let’s delve into the Genpact-specific opportunities and challenges that Tiger will be tackling in his new role as President and CEO. So, without further ado, here’s Part II…
Phil Fersht (HfS Research): Tiger, there’s been a lot of talk lately about the value that Indian companies can bring to U.S. and European firms. People are saying, “These Indian companies are great at training people, have good talent development and succession planning programs and so forth – they bring a lot to the table.” What’s your view? What do you think that Indian firms can bring to U.S. and European companies, and maybe vice versa?
NV “Tiger” Tyagarajan (Genpact): Firms, including us, Cognizant, Infosys and TCS, have all grown at 20 percent plus for many years now. And one of the things that’s gotten us there is a pretty significant hiring, training and culturalization engine that allows us to have one culture across the company in most cases. But we’ve clearly realized that many of our global clients don’t have one culture. It’s actually very fragmented, and the different countries don’t really work well together.
So actually, when people talk about innovation in the industry and wonder where it is, I push back and say that the HR and training practices and models in provider companies is truly innovative. In fact, many of our clients turn to us and ask, “Can we take this practice and that practice of yours, and embed them in our organization? Can you teach us how to do it? Can you give us the same tools, methodologies?”
In Genpact’s case, our singular, enterprise-wide culture is very similar to that of GE. Irrespective of what GE office in the world you walk into – whether it’s Canton, Ohio, New York, India, Shanghai or Tokyo –within five minutes you realize you’re in a GE office. The language used is the same. And while each country of course has its own culture, there’s the overarching, action-oriented, boundary-less, performance-driven culture. And global corporations need a culture that cuts across all nations and to some extent supersedes national culture.
I think one of the other things U.S. and European companies can learn from Indian firms is the concept of jugaad, which is an improvisational style of innovation that’s driven by scarce resources and attention to a customer’s immediate needs. In India, nothing is big enough to dedicate a single person, so people get involved in many things and end up being kind of a mixture of many things with knowledge that cuts across a broad spectrum. And because of the environment in India, people have simply learned to find a way to solve a problem, find an answer, in spite of multiple obstacles.
Phil: One of characteristics that makes Genpact stand apart from many of its competitors, is the passion and motivation that’s to apparent in its staff. How do you keep people passionate? Is there a secret to that, or do you think it’s just something very cultural within an organization?
Tiger: Phil, I’m so glad you asked me that, because it’s my one “keeps me awake at night” thing. I do wonder about how to maintain the company’s culture as we keep growing and spreading your wings.
And we are becoming very global. Our growth rate outside of India is faster than in India by a factor of 50 percent, so very quickly we’ll reach a 50/50 split of staff. So, as that happens, and as I continue to shift my leadership team to the markets, which is another big statement I’ve made and I’m making my shift myself, how do you maintain the culture?
One aspect of the culture that we almost put right on top is passion. So, when we hire leaders – and it does begin at hiring – and when we groom younger people into leadership jobs, the one characteristic that we all look for is passion. And we openly talk about it…it’s part of our evaluation criteria. And the world is changing so rapidly that if someone says, “I know this and I know that”, that’s not as important as their passion, ability and willingness to learn.
And – with a bit of the GE in us – we believe that you must wear your passion on your sleeve, and we spend a lot of time injecting passion into our communications within the organization and with our customers. If you don’t, how are you going to influence your team? How are you going to influence your customer into feeling that you fundamentally believe in what you are saying, and therefore, how are you going to make them buy into a ten-year relationship with you?
Also, we all work hard, we all work crazy hours, we all travel a lot, we all have global time zones. Why do that unless you’re in love with what you do? You have to have passion for the work or you should just stop doing it.
Phil: And what other characteristics do you think have made Genpact successful?
Tiger: Genpact’s and my own personal view of the world is that the most successful organizations are the ones that are most nimble. Nimbleness and agility are one of the big differentiators. And that includes speed: speed to market, speed of action, speed of reaction and so on.
I think organizations need two things to be successful. First, you have to thrive on change. Think about it this way: Genpact is becoming a Titanic in terms of size, but how do you make a Titanic go from one direction to 180 degrees in the opposite direction in literally a nanosecond? If you can create that culture – and it is all about culture – in which you can shift the organization’s focus from one to the other very quickly, I think you have a strong competitive edge.
You also need to have your antennas out with your customers, with the market, to be able to capture signals that tell you something is changing, and then be able to signal it back to your organization so it can change as needed. So that’s what my desire to shift the leadership team of the company to the market is driven by. I want to make sure that we have enough antenna-signal-picking, innovation-driven leaders, who then can drive the organization in the right direction.
I also believe that breakthrough innovations, which is what I think the industry is looking for and we are looking for with our clients, happens when you are closer to the client. Continuous innovation happens in your factories and your delivery centers. But breakthrough innovation happens when you co-innovate with your clients. So my biggest drive is to co-innovate with clients.
Click here to read the full three part interview trilogy, where we talk more about Tiger’s plans for Genpact and his vision for the future of technology and BPO…
NV “Tiger” Tyagarajan (pictured) is Chief Executive Officer for Genpact. You can view his full bio by clicking here