Unlocking Growth: A Strategic Outlook on Gurgaon Expansion and India's Role in AHEAD's Global Operations

In a special interview with Ciol, Keith Odom, Senior Vice President of Managed Services, India Operations, AHEAD sheds light on AHEAD's strategic expansion into Gurgaon.

Manisha Sharma
New Update


In the dynamic landscape of global business, strategic decisions often serve as catalysts for exponential growth and innovation. As AHEAD embarks on its journey to expand operations in Gurgaon, India, it marks a pivotal moment in the company's trajectory. This strategic move not only underscores AHEAD's commitment to meeting evolving market demands but also signifies a deliberate effort to leverage India's abundant talent pool and strategic advantages. In this opening paragraph, we delve into the driving forces behind AHEAD's expansion in Gurgaon and explore the strategic value that India offers to propel AHEAD's global operations to new heights.


In a special interview with Ciol, Keith Odom, Senior Vice President of Managed Services, India Operations, AHEAD sheds light on AHEAD's strategic expansion into Gurgaon. This conversation explores the importance of this move in strengthening AHEAD's foothold in India's dynamic market landscape.

What drove this expansion in Gurgaon and what is the strategic value of being in India?

Several factors influenced the decision to choose Gurgaon at this particular time. Firstly, there is the anticipation of substantial growth in general. Over the past few years, we've experienced significant organic growth as well as the result of numerous acquisitions—nine in the last five years alone. Just recently, we completed another acquisition with CDI, adding another 650 employees to our A significant driving force behind this decision is our managed service offerings and the availability of a talented workforce. Primarily, it's about the people. The talent pool here has enabled us to collaborate with Praveen and his team. We've found that we can acquire talent more rapidly and of a higher caliber than what's currently available in the US. By attracting top-tier talent, we can quickly build a strong team around them. This emphasis on acquiring quality individuals is crucial, especially considering the challenges faced in finding skilled professionals, such as in the fields of security, ServiceNow, cloud computing, data analytics, and AI, both for our clients and within our organization. 


Opening up a new region allows us to tap into a broader talent pool, addressing this pressing need. Additionally, by diversifying our talent pool and seeking out individuals with unique perspectives and approaches, we aim to fuel an innovation engine. This pursuit of diverse, top-tier talent, unencumbered by conventional thinking, will propel us towards an accelerated innovation platform.

How will Gurgaon office will boost ahead global operation, especially in your managed services, cybersecurity or digital services?

From Gurgam's perspective, and now with our presence in Hyderabad following our acquisition, all our growth initiatives are centered here. This is where we envision our growth engine for the company. We're channeling our resources in India across all aspects of our operations, emphasizing the significance of managed services.


This year, we plan to hire 200 individuals in Grigao for our managed service business. Additionally, we'll be recruiting 75 professionals for our digital solutions group, focusing on cloud, AI, and data analytics. Furthermore, we're expanding across all our other domains, including ServiceNow, Data Center, and Network, extending to our shared services. We're actively hiring local talent such as lawyers, operations personnel, finance experts, and IT professionals for our internal IT operations. This approach will persist as we integrate top talent and foster diversity across our business segments, believing it will accelerate our innovation endeavors.

According to you, what are the latest trends in managed services and how do you tackle them?

In the realm of current trends, security stands out as a major concern. The challenge of finding skilled individuals persists, while malicious actors continue to pose threats. This suggests that the situation will likely deteriorate rather than improve over time. Consequently, security remains a significant focus. It ranks among our top offerings due to its high level of automation, strong demand, and vast market potential.


How has Ahead adapted its pre-sale approach to engage effectively with the clients in India with diverse culture and business landscapes?

We are currently not engaged in sales activities in India, Instead, we're utilizing India's resources to penetrate other markets, particularly focusing on the U.S. However, with our acquisition of CDI, we now have office space in the U.K. and Ireland as well. Our goal is to expand globally beyond our current footprint. At present, the India Center primarily serves to support our predominantly U.S.-based clients, although we also cater to global clients across the world. Therefore, we're extending our support to them as well.

What are the strategies you have to attract the talent pool to come out in your company Global Ahead, either Gurgaon?


I believe that talent attracts talent. Our office space, located in Horizon One, is stunning, and equipped with all the amenities one could desire. Additionally, our benefits are competitive, and comparable to any others in the market today, which will undoubtedly be appealing. Moreover, fostering an employee-first culture is paramount. When individuals encounter our existing talent and engage in conversations with them, they will witness first our commitment to prioritizing our employees. We cultivate a culture centered around teamwork, akin to that of a family, and we will continue to nurture this atmosphere here at AHEAD.

In the context of cybersecurity, how does AHEAD plan to address the unique challenges and compliance requirements prevalent in the Indian market?

Some of the new things for us will include GDPR and various compliance requirements. Looking ahead, we already possess all the necessary certifications you would expect from a company like ours, such as SOC 2, type 2, ISO 27001, HIPAA compliance, PCI compliance, and more. We have ensured coverage across all these areas. Our office in Gurgaon, which opened last September 1st, is currently undergoing audits and assessments to ensure compliance, including both the team and the physical space. We are fully committed to maintaining these standards and integrating them into all our operations moving forward."


How can companies use India for expense services, engagement, cost flexibility, and follow the sun support? 

So, following the sun is probably our top priority at the moment. From a forward-looking perspective, we're not particularly focused on reducing headcount in any other areas. As we continue to hire staff for second and third shifts in the US, those individuals will transition to the day shift. We'll also be expanding second and third shifts here, operating in that manner. Our growth trajectory will lead to significant expansion for the US team on the day shift, while we'll maintain multiple shifts elsewhere. However, we are considering consolidating certain functions, you know, on both sides—potentially just in India. As I mentioned, we currently have about 125 employees in India, and by the end of 2024, we're projecting to have 400 to 500 people. So, we'll be quadrupling our current workforce across all departments.

What are your expectations for the future of AHEAD's operations in India?

I think what we're, well what I'm expecting, is that we're going to grow and build net new services out of those. Again, the talent pool is going to allow us to find and hire people that maybe we haven't met today, bring them in, and help us innovate and create new offerings. Through the acquisition of CDI, one of the things we will be bringing to the market, which they already had, but we'll be bringing it from a forward-looking perspective, is a kind of as-a-service model. So we do our security today as a service. 

You simply buy it as a service. We bring the tools and the software and everything as part of that. But with the acquisition of CDI, they had DR as a service, backup as a service, VMware as a service, and infrastructure. I think we'll continue to drive that through other areas of the business as we move forward. And I believe India can help us be a significant driver in creating, managing, and continually evolving the innovation of our service offerings."