Growth Must Have Four Dimensions, with Nitin Rakesh, CEO and Director at Mphasis
“I grew up in in middle town India. I have used my ambition and motivation to define growth as having FOUR dimensions — consistent, profitable, competitive and responsible. We promote inclusion in a big way through our company — our efforts are directed at bringing in technology based innovative solutions into the realm of education, livelihood and inclusion for the underserved sections of society.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Nitin Rakesh, CEO and Director at Mphasis. Nitin Rakesh, a distinguished leader in the IT services industry, joined Mphasis as its Chief Executive Officer and Director in January 2017. Nitin has a proven track record of delivering profitable growth at industry leading operating margins. Before he was appointed as the CEO of Mphasis, he served as President, Americas for Syntel, where he headed Business Development and North American operations.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I grew up in a small town in India in a family of professionals, mostly doctors and teachers. From a young age, I was competitive — especially in academics — and was always striving to be at the top of my class. I was fascinated by devices and decided to pursue a degree in Engineering, and through an early epiphany in high school, knew it had to involve computers. While studying Software Engineering, I took a business management course my senior year, and realized that I knew very little about business, financial management or global markets. I decided to pursue a graduate degree in management, and aspired to attend Harvard Business School (HBS), one of the top global business schools, also known as the “CEO School.”
However, back in the early ’90s it was prohibitive, in many ways, to fulfill that aspiration. I had to bury my aspiration and continue to establish my career in the technology and finance fields first. In 2014 when I was 42-years-old, I was promoted as Global CEO of a $4bn tech Nasdaq listed company, one of the youngest CEOs in the industry. To my surprise, I was invited to attend an “invitation only” program for new CEOs at the same business school that I had dreamt of attending 20 years ago! I attended the CEO workshop at the Harvard Business School and was the youngest person in that room; the irony was not lost on me — I had aspired to study at HBS so I could become a CEO one day, and here I was attending HBS, after stepping into a CEO role!
I have cherished every step of this journey, gained tremendous experience, and continue to be a student of management in my current role as CEO of my current company, Mphasis, a role that I moved laterally into.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
I routinely get requests from potential employees for being considered for a suitable role at the company (somehow, they feel by writing to the CEO, they improve their chances of being considered — not sure that happens!) This one email I received was really hilarious. It read:
“Dear Mr. Nitin Rakesh
I believe sir my daughter XXXX is in your good looks. Please I request to provide one opportunity with your kind reference as & when fresher drive begins in reputed Mphasis. I submit her CV for your kind consideration.
I had to invoke my HR Head’s protection. For me!
So what exactly does your company do?
Mphasis is a prominent and leading global player in the IT industry. We enable customers to reimagine their digital future by applying a unique formula of integrated cloud and cognitive technology.
Earlier this year I launched our new formula for success, X2C2TM (shift anything to cloud and power everything with cognitive). Our unique formula drives five dimensions of business value with an integrated consumer-centric Front to Back™ Digital Transformation, enabling Business Operations and Technology Transformation. Mphasis applies advancements in cognitive and cloud to traditional Application and Infrastructure Services to bring much needed efficiency and cost effectiveness. Mphasis’ core reference architectures and tools, combined with domain expertise and hyperspecialization are the foundation for building strong relationships with our marquee customers.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I believe that in a small way, I have been a source of inspiration and motivation to the younger folks in the society and communities I grew up in in middle town India. I have used my ambition and motivation to define growth as having FOUR dimensions — consistent, profitable, competitive and responsible. We promote inclusion in a big way through our company — our efforts are directed at bringing in technology based innovative solutions into the realm of education, livelihood and inclusion for the underserved sections of society.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
a. A CEOs job is not to define a strategy — it is to derive it by working closely with your team of highly engaged individuals. Any CEO does not have all the answers.
b. I had initially believed my job was to motivate people… I was wrong! My job is to get self-motivated people on our team, set a vision and let them free to make the magic happen.
c. Business is not “all about people.” Business is “all about the right people!”
e. Ambition has to be first and foremost about the institution, not about the individuals.
g. I believed there is no success without successor. I quickly learnt that the real success comes with your successors success.
I have been blessed with the opportunity to interview and be in touch with some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?
I would love to have a private session with Rafael Nadal — there is no better inspiration than him as a living legend of one of the most competitive sports in the world. I admire his passion, competitive spirit, self-motivation, hard work and ability to re-invent himself, all the while staying true to himself with humility, kindness and compassion.
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