As Som Mittal walks into the sunset after an unarguably successful stint as Nasscom president, the industry will miss a doyen. The Satyam scandal, the anti-outsourcing tirade in the US and global economic slowdown—any one of these could have placed most leaders on the back foot but Mittal battled all these forces with aplomb.
“It has been a tough, but satisfying journey. Now, I can look forward to teaching in management institutes and being on the boards of some companies that I believe in.” Mittal has been Nasscom president since 2008 after successful stints at companies like Digital/Compaq, Wipro etc. “I must say I have been lucky to get the support of many during my time as Nasscom president. Several hard decisions had to be taken, but I always got support from all corners.”
Clearly, tackling Satyam was the toughest ask. When Tech Mahindra emerged as the highest bidder for Satyam, Mittal was the happiest man around. “The Satyam episode had the potential to affect the image of the country as an outsourcing destination. So we had to act quickly. The first 72 hours after the scandal broke out were crucial. I am just happy that we came out of it pretty well.”
Tech Mahindra had beaten L&T’s bid and agreed to dish out nearly R2,900 crore for a 51% stake. Satyam’s takeover by Mahindra helped them both and today the combined entity is a great force to reckon with.
While Mittal’s one eye has always been on tackling tricky situations, he always had to keep the other on growth. With the global economic recession forcing IT firms to trim their guidance repeatedly, Nasscom needed to come to their aid often. Fighting the anti-outsourcing wave was a big matter in itself. Fortunately, fears around this have subsided for the time being. Nasscom often faced flak on this count, but Mittal has continued on his mission.
Mittal reminds us that when he took over Nasscom’s reins, IT exports from India stood at $46 billion but today it is at $86 billion. Setting up bodies like the Data
Security Council of India (DSCI) has been a great move. Today, DSCI with its agenda on best practices, cyber security awareness, cyber crime handling and public advocacy with governments is getting recognised as an industry led self regulatory body. The Nasscom 10,000 Start-ups initiative is another of his pet projects.
The second half