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A compodium of my published aritcles, features, etc. on technology, IT and everything else; sourced from CyberMedia publications, Financial Express, Free Press Journal, Nazara.com, etc……

Posts Tagged ‘TCS

Farewell Rama

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Farewell Rama
Received an innocuous mail from TCS today, it was a press meet at their heritage building HQ in Mumbai with the CEO and MD. All seemed like yore till my eyes actually read the name N Chandrasekaran instead of the usual S Ramadorai. In fact, the mind is so accustomed to see his name, that it took a moment to realise that the change of guard that had been in the offing, is finally at hand. Come tomorrow (October 6), the curtains will be down for one of the most illustrious CEOs of India, Subramaniam Ramadorai or S. Ramadorai as he is more universally known. The top-honcho at TCS, the $6 billion IT behemoth, will hand over the baton to his successor N Chandrasekaran (Chandra, is his appellate) and take a back seat as the vice-chairman. The handover is necessitated by the Tata Rule book that states that no individual can continue as a CEO beyond the age of 65. There have been exceptions in the past, but Rama has chosen to follow the rule-book and not take the easy way out. In fact this is one of the most defining traits of Rama as an individual and as a CEO; he never flinches to take a long arduous path if he believes it to be the right one. With a grit that only a few can match up with, Rama will keep working at the goal tirelessly, day in and day out. And yet, except for the few around him not many would realise that this calm serene sexatarian is a workaholic, who even when is calm and serene on the out, is in fact working at a frenzied pace within. Looks can be deceptive, is a phrase that would have been coined for Rama, if it wasn’t before.
It was much this grit and determination that won him the CEO cap at TCS, when the doyen of Indian IT, FC Kohli retired back in 1996. back then, not many knew who exactly Ramadorai was or would have given him much notice, considering the fact that back then TCS was a private company and fairly secretive about its revenues and spread. In those days, for Indians IT meant Infosys or Wipro, or even HCL, but certainly not TCS. And yet, Rama who had joined TCS as a junior engineer in 1972 was destined and determined to change that. He rose through the ranks and eventually was charged with setting up TCS’ operations in the United States in 1979 in New York City, where he got an opportunity to prove his mettle.
Hailing from Nagpur, Rama grew up in Delhi where his father worked with the Indian audits and accounts service department. After studying physics at the University of Delhi, he headed south to Bangalore to study communication technology at the prestigious Indian Institute of Science. After graduating in 1968, Ram briefly joined the Physical Research Lab at Ahmedabad, but soon left to pursue higher studies at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) from where he obtained his masters in computer science.
After completing his education, Rama joined NCR in the US itself briefly before homesickness set in and he yearned to return back. It was at that time that his father told him that the Tata group was looking for ‘people who could work on computers. It was in Nov 1971, that Rama was interviewed by AH Tobaccowala, president, Tata Inc., who was based in New York. Ram was employed with TCS in Bombay on February 23, 1972; the rest as they say is history.
Speaking from a personal perspective, over the years I had numerous chances to interact with Rama. And believe me, till recent past, he was dreaded by the IT journalist fraternity, simply because it is quite impossible to wean out any juicy bit from him. Interviewing him was often a staid experience, as Rama would always stick to sort of a script replying in a low tone, and in as few words as possible. There would hardly be a smile on his face, and he would often seem bored by responding to similar questions.
Yet, there was a perceptible change in him over the last year or so, probably ever since Chandra’s appointment was finalised. Rama seemed much at ease at the conferences and would even smile or quip humorously at a query. It was as if with the weight off his shoulders, he suddenly was enjoying his stint. He even started Facebooking, wherein he started sharing with the world his own perspective on a lot of things. For instance it is from there that one comes to know about his passion for music, walking, golf, cricket and that he likes to read anything – from science & tech to sports, biographies and music. He even went to the extent of sharing his experiences on winning the CBE, considering his shyness is a big big achievement.
Hopefully he won’t really be ‘retiring’ in the real sense of terms, he is currently the Chairman of TATA Technologies Limited, Chairman of CMC Ltd, and Vice Chairman of TATA Elxsi (India) Ltd. He is also the chairman of Computational Research Laboratories Ltd. He is also on the Board of Directors of Hindustan Unilever Ltd, Nicholas Piramal India Ltd, TATA Limited (India), TATA Infotech Limited (India), TATA Internet Services Limited, Nelito Systems Limited, and several other companies. And will also be the Vice Chairman of TCS. In his own words, he will now take on a mentoring role and guide the new CEO at TCS.
Nonetheless, the reticent wise old man of Indian IT will surely be missed, and with his exit a glorious chapter come to an end. Hopefully there are a lot more to come from him; will be keeping an eye on his FB page.
P.S. Hear in his own words what he had to say Chandra and the future of TCS..

Received an innocuous mail from TCS today, it was regarding a press meet at their heritage building HQ in Mumbai with the CEO and MD. All seemed like yore till my eyes actually read the name N Chandrasekaran instead of the usual S Ramadorai. In fact, the mind is so accustomed to see his name, that it took a moment to realise that the change of guard that had been in the offing, is finally at hand.

Come tomorrow (October 6), the curtains will be down for one of the most illustrious CEOs of India, Subramaniam Ramadorai or S. Ramadorai as he is more universally known. The top-honcho at TCS, the $6 billion IT behemoth, will hand over the baton to his successor N Chandrasekaran (Chandra, is his appellate) and take a back seat as the vice-chairman. The handover is necessitated by the Tata Rule book that states that no individual can continue as a CEO beyond the age of 65. There have been exceptions in the past, but Rama has chosen to follow the rule-book and not take the easy way out. In fact this is one of the most defining traits of Rama as an individual and as a CEO; he never flinches to take a long arduous path if he believes it to be the right one. With a grit that only a few can match up with, Rama will keep working at the goal tirelessly, day in and day out. And yet, except for the few around him not many would realise that this calm serene sexatarian is a workaholic, who even when is calm and serene on the out, is in fact working at a frenzied pace within. Looks can be deceptive, is a phrase that would have been coined for Rama, if it wasn’t before.ramadorai

It was much this grit and determination that won him the CEO cap at TCS, when the doyen of Indian IT, FC Kohli retired back in 1996. Back then, not many knew who exactly Ramadorai was or would have given him much notice, considering the fact that back then TCS was a private company and fairly secretive about its revenues and spread. In those days, for Indians IT meant Infosys or Wipro, or even HCL, but certainly not TCS. And yet, Rama who had joined TCS as a junior engineer in 1972 was destined and determined to change that. He rose through the ranks and eventually was charged with setting up TCS’ operations in the United States in 1979 in New York City, where he got an opportunity to prove his mettle.

Hailing from Nagpur, Rama grew up in Delhi where his father worked with the Indian audits and accounts service department. After studying physics at the University of Delhi, he headed south to Bangalore to study communication technology at the prestigious Indian Institute of Science. Read the rest of this entry »

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Written by Shashwat D.C.

October 6, 2009 at 3:37 am

Anil Ambani and his tech dreams

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Recently, I came across a piece on the Time Magazine website, authored by Simon Robinson (http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,1817222,00.html), wherein Simon talked about Anil Ambani’s Hollywood dreams. The story talked of how there was a probability of Steven Spielberg and ADAG coming together, to be more precise; “Reliance providing between $500 million and $600 million to Spielberg’s Dreamworks SKG, financing that would allow Dreamworks to split from Viacom Inc’s Paramount Pictures.”
As, I went through the piece; my admiration for the junior Ambani brother went a few notches higher, not as much for making the phriangi Jurassic Park director indebted to us Indians, but more for the mileage that he seems to be deriving even before there was pen put to paper on the deal. Imagine WSJ and Time Magazine discussing the story and carrying them in their publications. The only other Indian businessman, who achieved this feat recently was Ratan Tata; but then he had to build a ‘Nano’ for the same after investing billions of dollars. And this is the very reason, I ‘kind off’ like Ambani, his media-savviness.

Unlike Branson (Vijay Mallya’s role model), Anil Ambani exudes a very no-nonsense business image. Each bit of news that emanates from his PR machinery subtly reminds that he is a “Wharton” MBA. The press handouts will have an image of him sitting in his corporate office, smiling benignly at you. He will hold joint press conferences with the Hoi polloi, be it Steve Ballmer or Bill Clinton. Then, of course, there are marathons that “fitness freak” Ambani runs and the innumerable trophies that he keeps accepting all the time. Some months back, there was immense coverage of the fact how Ambani Jr. had become a trillionnaire and also the 6th richest person in the world (based on the valuation of one of his company’s IPO, that tonked immediately after listing. So that was the end to that story).

There is a world of difference between how the two Ambani brothers carry on with their work. While the elder one (also the more richer) tends to keep away from media even though he owns a rather ‘costly’ IPL team. The only time Mukhesh Ambani was in news recent times was because of the $2 billion house that he is building. Meanwhile, ADAG’s public machinery seems to be working overtime, much like some 24/7 call center, trying to come up with some saucy and juicy bit.

So, there is Ambani Jr. investing millions in Fame Adlabs (a multiplex and film distribution chain in India). Or his Reliance Power is being listed (apparently, the very listing saw the end of the bull run and the return of the bears). Or how he aimed to be as big as TCS and the rest by launching a software firm Tech Reliance. Then, recently there has been these high-profile negotiations with MTN, the largest mobile operator in Africa. And finally, there’s Spielberg. He has even coaxed his good friend, Amitabh Bachchan to turn to blogging (he writes on one of ADAG’s online properties). Through all these stories, the official machinery will maintain a discrete silence. While some “informed sources” will keep the media wheels running with tid-bits and suppositions. Ask some one for a quote, and all you will get is hush-hush. Even the Time Magazine couldn’t coax them into commenting on a story.

Come to think of it, the raison d’etre of Ambani’s wealth are entities that he did not create himself, like Reliance Communications and Reliance Energy, the former was done by big brother and the latter was a PSU. And that is the reason, I like Anil Ambani; he manages to be there on my newspaper every morning somehow the other, talking of some fantastical venture or a success and when neither just plainly accusing his brother for some corporate misdemeanor. Bravo Ambani Jr! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Shashwat D.C.

July 16, 2008 at 7:24 pm