The world is flat today, requiring businesses to compete globally and be agile on their feet, while maintaining integrity.
Mindtree Chairman Subroto Bagchi declared that message as he engaged in a Socratic dialogue with Santa Fe College students, faculty and staff Monday (Oct. 7).
The integrity piece has been the cornerstone of Mindtree’s success, Bagchi emphasized, enabling the software development and testing company to survive the bruising it took after 9/11 and grow to $550 million in annual sales with 12,500 employees.
All 10 Mindtree founders possessed integrity when they started the company jointly in Boston and India in 1999, Bagchi said. “We didn’t have to explain it to each other.”
With integrity, Mindtree built a strong reputation. “Reputation is currency. It distinguishes one set of people from another set of people,” Bagchi said.
Mindtree responded to its customers by deciding to create its first U.S. development center in Gainesville a year and a half ago, providing a staff on the same daily clock as American businesses.
Bagchi’s visit to Gainesville, which included stops at several University of Florida programs, was designed to entice students to want to work for Mindtree.
The company needs workers with an entrepreneurial spirit, he said. “The world is ready like never before for entrepreneurship,” he said.
Companies have to continually reinvent themselves to keep pace, he noted. “Just when you think you have achieved quality, the button is reset,” he said. “When you reach the peak of the mountain, you start coming down again.”
The entrepreneur must be focused on long-term success, postponing instant gratification, Bagchi said. “You can’t be thinking about retiring as soon as possible and moving to the Bahamas or the South of France.”
Entrepreneurial companies must change as they grow, he said. “You must be comfortable scaling, willing to plug in outside energy,” he said. “You also must have the capability to deal with adversity.”
Bagchi is comfortable in the classroom because he frequently meets with students of Indian colleges and because he is an author, having written several books on business philosophy.
His book The Elephant Catchers: Key Lessons for Breakthrough Growth emphasizes the challenges of being far-sighted. “You must put expertise above enthusiasm,” he said. “Those who hunt rabbits are rarely able to rope elephants.”