Left, Thomas Kinnear, Bharat Desai,|
and Dean Robert Dolan
Bharat Desai: Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year
Investing in people and infrastructure key to success, says Syntel Inc. CEO.
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—The primary advantage that U.S. entrepreneurs have over foreign competitors is their penchant for innovation. Focusing on that advantage as well as the global culture of business will add up to success for todayís entrepreneurs, according to Bharat Desai, MBA í81, co-founder, chairman and CEO of Syntel Inc.
Desai received the Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the University of Michigan's student-led Entrepreneur and Venture Club at Entrepalooza 2005: Define Your Path. Entrepalooza, held on Sept. 23 at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business, was sponsored by the club and the Samuel Zell and Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies.
In his keynote address, Desai focused on the challenges he faced in growing Syntel from a Troy, Michigan-based IT staffing company in 1980 to a successful global IT solutions firm with 5,000 employees around the world. The Ross alumnus offered suggestions for success to emerging business leaders.
"After 12 years operating a local staffing services company, I found that we were not successfully expanding due to entrenched competition in the market. We decided to go abroad and set up an off-shore operation," he said. That was the beginning of a growth trend that continues today.
Under his leadership, Syntel has become a leading global IT services company with offices in North America, Europe, Asia and India. Syntelís market capitalization exceeds $750 million.
Desai chose India as an ideal location for expansion due to its large English-speaking population and educated workforce. He also saw a willingness on the part of the government to help establish a new industry by providing infrastructure assistance.
Currently, a new 40-acre technology park is being constructed by Syntel in India that will house up to 7,000 employees and will include hotel and conference facilities, food courts, an amphitheater and other amenities.
Words of Wisdom
"The main reason a company exists is to serve its customers. My advice to you is to understand your industry, the competition and what people buy. You must know how youíll differentiate yourself from the competition and how to communicate with your team. Finally, invest ahead of the curve in infrastructure and the best people," said Desai.
The service industry is poised for sweeping changes and unforeseen applications in the near future, according to Desai. "We canít even conceive of what will emerge. Those who are able to adapt will survive. Those who do not will not survive. It will start with simple services, then grow and evolve to medium value-added services and finally youíll be able to provide high value-added services that are very complex. The future will require visionary leadership," he said.
"Choose a business that plays to your natural advantage. Enjoy what you do; and at the end of the day, be able to come home and say that you had fun today," he said.
Written by Nancy Davis
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