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Stability's done, it's over to profitability: Mindtree CEO Debashis Chatterjee

"When I joined, the priority was in terms of stability and continuity. It was the first and foremost goal for me, given whatever happened in the past. Stability and continuity were the focus in the first 90 days, but now the focus is shifting to g...

Nov 18, 2019, 07.11 AM IST
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As competition increases in newer digital services, these firms are also ring-fencing their customers by providing additional services.

Bengaluru: Mindtree's new chief executive Debashis Chatterjee is shifting gears to move towards profitable growth, away from the company’s initial focus on continuity and stability soon after engineering conglomerate Larsen & Toubro acquired majority stake in the mid-sized IT firm earlier this year. Chatterjee took charge of the Bengaluru-based company in August amid several top- and senior-level exits.

"When I joined, the priority was in terms of stability and continuity. It was the first and foremost goal for me, given whatever happened in the past. Stability and continuity were the focus in the first 90 days, but now the focus is shifting to growth," Chatterjee told ET in his first interview after he took over. Chatterjee said the company is focused on mining existing clients and chasing more large strategic deals, and that there was huge opportunity in crossselling and upselling. The company has hired a leader in the United States, its largest market, to chase such deals. “My existing client base, especially strategic clients, are doing well. We have not seen a slowdown. If you can grow with your top strategic clients — nothing like it,” Chatterjee said. “For topline, focus on strategic accounts and mine those accounts even more.”

Indian technology companies are pushing to grow business from existing customers, which are seeking help from service providers to manage business disruption from nimble startups. As competition increases in newer digital services, these firms are also ring-fencing their customers by providing additional services.

In July, L&T was categorised as a promoter with 60.06% stake in the company. Mindtree founders — Subroto Bagchi, NS Parthasarathy, Krishnakumar Natarajan and Rostow Ravanan — who together hold around 13.32% and who had served as directors on the board for two decades, quit after L&T concluded its open offer. Mindtree is now filling up the second rung of leadership through lateral and internal hires. Many leaders from the second rung have left following the acquisition.

“We lost a few leaders. As you know, leadership refreshment doesn’t happen overnight and takes a little bit of time. For every critical position, we have a plan in place. We have lost leadership minus one, but leadership minus two is absolutely stable,” he said. Mindtree will find replacements for open positions in the second rung with some internal hires, and some lateral hires from competing IT firms, he said. “You need to get the right profile of people from the market. Mindtree has gone through what it has gone through in the first half of the year, it takes time to get the right leaders. I am very confident of getting people from tier 1 organisations,” Chatterjee said.

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