From a CIO to a CEO chair

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His erstwhile IT function would now be morphing into Highbar Technologies, to provide services to clients in the infrastructure sector. What exactly would this switch-over translate into? We find out in this interview


Now that we hear that Hindustan Construction Co (HCC) has hived off its IT division into a separate firm, what prompted this idea in the first place? What can we see the business model shaping into next?

We were toying with the idea for quite some time. The infrastructure industry is going at a good pace. But it needs much more and different stuff on IT which becomes all the more tough as IT industry is mostly tuned to manufacturing, finance etc. That’s where we become different. We have the domain insight of so many years being in the industry ourselves. For such a potential market there’s a lot that we can offer. So that spurred us forward. The business model has changed with new efficiencies and expectations. The interesting thing is that even through the toughest recession time-period, this sector has specially grown and we experienced that growth in the customers we have been handling, there was another level of confidence in the potential.

What exactly is the gap you are pointing towards?


It’s more about the domain understanding. Solutions are there but how can one with an automobile or finance mindset cater to or even understand the language of infrastructure sector?

At present, the Indian market for infrastructure-IT segment is around 20 billion rupees and expected to grow to 30 billion rupees in five years, and HCC has been providing IT services since the last 18-20 months and has 27 customers.

How would Highbar cater to answers here?

For one, we have people who have spent their lives in the infrastructure industry and have taken up IT for last four five years. So that creates a lot of difference in the capabilities, competencies we offer. More than anything, it’s the understanding part. When you talk German, we won’t talk English. We would understand the language precisely. We will be able to relate a lot better.


What would be your relative split between serving HCC’s IT needs and external customer base? Now and forward?

Right now I can’t share the exact mix but yes HCC is a major component. But as we move forward we want to change the ratio and have more of external customers.

Am sure the transition must have been a new experience altogether? IT department are not exactly in the spotlight always but now you are turning into a profit engine.

Definitely. It’s been a massive transition and on the personal side I have gone through a huge experience. As CIOs we are pampered a lot by media and vendors. Now I have to be on the other side of fence too. ( on a lighter vein) But yes, it’s huge.  I don’t have to just ensure my servers etc are running fine but have to check a lot different parameters like bottom-line, customer address book, resource utilization, top line etc etc. I have to gear up to many new functions like marketing, HR etc. The transition is far from over, lot to do next.