Namita Thapar is chief financial officer and an executive board member at Emcure Pharmaceuticals, a $700 million company founded by her father. A 2001 graduate of Fuqua’s Daytime MBA program, Thapar worked in various roles for Glaxo and Guidant (now Abbott) in the U.S. before returning to India.
Since going home Thapar has also launched YEA India, a Young Entrepreneurs Academy for high schoolers. Namita shares lessons from her experience in this Fuqua Q&A.
How does working for a multinational in India differ from one based in the U.S.? How did you navigate the differences?
After working in the U.S. for several years in large public companies, when I returned to India to join our pharmaceuticals business I was pleasantly surprised to see solid global systems in place. We had robust enterprise resource planning, Big Four auditors and a strong and independent board. We pretty much functioned like a public company though we were privately held. Our sales have grown in each of the last 10 years. Most of our systems have kept pace with this growth. However, one area where my U.S. companies were stronger and invested more was in human resources. We are currently investing heavily here to build global systems and leadership bandwidth. I am personally passionate about having a higher percentage of women in our workforce.
Aaron Chatterji is an associate professor of strategy at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, where his work focuses on innovation and entrepreneurship. His experience includes stints as a senior economist at the White House Council of Economic Advisors and a financial analyst for Goldman Sachs & in New York. Chatterji is currently studying entrepreneurship in the explosive growth of the Indian tech sector and in January, ran a huge field study with almost 200 startup founders in Bengaluru. Chatterji expands on his research in this Fuqua Q&A.
What drew you to the tech sector in India as a topic of research?
Several things. Firstly, there’s been a couple of high profile companies that have reached over $1 billion valuation, such as Flipkart, that are becoming household names. Also, India has a large domestic market, like China. Some of the startups that launch in India might be similar to the ones we have here in the U.S., but they can get huge domestic market share and become so valuable that they don’t necessarily need to leave India, so we need to go there to study them. Plus India has a high concentration of high-tech talent, some educated at home and some who came home after emigrating abroad. That gives Indian startups a talent pool to draw from. Finally, the government is working hard to promote entrepreneurship and has talked a lot about it, which can potentially create a nurturing environment for startups. (more…)
Raj Jain (second from right) with Cross Continent MBA students in New Delhi
By Wendy Goldstein, Fuqua marketing and communications staff
Fuqua’s Cross Continent MBA students travel to international residencies where they learn from top business leaders in the region. Recently I joined the class of 2015 during for their studies in New Delhi.
During my visit I was fortunate enough to attend a talk by Raj Jain, the CEO of The Times Group of India, who took time out of his busy schedule to speak candidly to our students about his first 100 days as CEO. The Times Group of India is a multimedia conglomerate that besides newspaper, has successfully entered the TV, radio, internet and outdoor spaces.
Javed Tapia is an entrepreneur whose focus for much of the last two decades has been the technology industry in India. He is the founder and managing director of Clover Infotech, an IT services firm headquartered in Mumbai. Tapia also leads the real estate and solar energy divisions of the company’s portfolio. In the early 2000s, he established Red Hat’s presence in India and served as managing director. During this stint, he helped lead the open source software movement in India and grow the company’s footprint across South Asia.
Tapia graduated from the Daytime MBA program at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business in 1991. He provided some perspective on the Indian technology and entrepreneurial landscapes in a Fuqua Q&A.
Q) How does an IT services firm stay in tune with the rapidly changing needs of clients? Is it more important to focus on addressing current needs or anticipating future ones?
In my opinion, IT services firms should focus on anticipating future needs of the clients. They should completely understand not just the technology trends but also the client’s domain in depth. The best IT services companies should align their technology expertise and domain knowledge to enable their clients to have an edge in business, processes, management and therefore, performance. By doing so, these IT companies will seamlessly address the rapidly changing needs of today’s clients.
Raj Jain has a distinguished career as an executive at some of India’s largest consumer goods and retail companies, and he will now add media to that mix of industry experience. Jain was recently appointed CEO of the Times Group media conglomerate that among other properties, publishes The Economic Times and The Times of India—the largest English publication in the world. He is currently the CEO of Bharti Retail, a multi-brand venture that includes Easyday stores, and has previously headed Walmart India, served as managing director and CEO of Whirlpool India, and worked for Hindustan Unilever.
Jain recently spoke to Fuqua’s Global Executive MBA students studying in in Delhi. He shared insights on the retail industry, leadership, and the evolving Indian consumer market in a Fuqua Q&A.
Q) You have lived and worked in China and have previously said there are more differences than similarities in how one would operate a business there verus India. Could you provide an example? Additionally, how would someone build the necessary skills for working cross-culturally between these two countries?
I often say that the only similarity between India and China is the one billion-plus population! While this may be an exaggeration, truth is that the two emerging countries are very dissimilar. Starting with the customer, one should remember that China has pursued a one child policy over 25 years. This has had a significant bearing on family structure, the role of women in society, and aspirations of young families. Coupled with rapid urbanization, Chinese cities and urban customers have developed very differently from those in India. For example, a large majority of women are part of the workforce in urban China while this number is in the teens in India. Women at work have a significant impact on, say penetration of washing machines, home aids and many other time/effort saving devices at home. Similarly there is a significant adoption of western wear (for the office) among women in China versus ladies traditional apparel sold and tailored in India. On another note, for various cultural, language and historical reasons most young Chinese prefer working for local companies rather than for western multinationals. This is almost the reverse in India. Understanding some of these basic factors in a society is critical to effectively working cross culturally, much more than language and other visible cultural symbols.