The biggest thing that was missing in Wipro was accountability, says Kurien

K. Giriprakash
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T.K. Kurien, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer for IT business
T.K. Kurien, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer for IT business

Telecom and India business are two of our biggest worries.

Wipro’s executive director and chief executive officer for IT business, T. K. Kurien believes that companies should no longer look at quarterly numbers but at long-term growth. In an interview with Business Line, Kurien underlines the new strategies the company is adopting to stay ahead of the pack.

Most IT companies now talk only about the long term. Earlier, everyone was focused on quarterly numbers, sequential growth.

When a market paradigm changes from 40 per cent year on year, to this state, you tend to get tremendously focused. That is the state we are in. There are lot of fundamental changes taking place in the industry. The core is getting commoditised. If you look at the edges, that’s where values are being created. The ownership of the stack is very critical. We have created this group called Advanced Technology Group which is working on these things.

We must operate on two parameters: long-term and short-term. Long-term is getting efficient on the core and differentiation on the front. That’s the game we are playing.

Some of the segments are still a cause for worry.

Yes. It is telecom, telecom and telecom. It is a big drag for us. A continuous drag. We are doing a lot to fix it. The teams are working like hell! When I joined the company, telecom engineering contributed 60 per cent of topline for Wipro. Today, it is on the decline. I think most telecom players are under threat from the Chinese guys. And the Chinese guys are also losing money now. So, I think the pricing will eventually move up. Telecom and India business are two of our biggest worries. But then who wants to invest in telecom now?

One sees IT companies now constantly fine-tuning their strategies quarter after quarter. How difficult has it become for you to win orders, sustain growth?

Our biggest challenge today is that with 140,000 people, that’s like (running) a town . So, getting a town to move is tough. If you hit 250,000, 300,000, you just can’t do it. That’s the challenge. How do we get this thing effectively working? That’s the challenge.

So will you continue to hire more?

We are not cutting back on hiring. We are going to be predictive, to our customers, to our future employees. We are absolutely clear on that. Whether we have business or no business, we will keep to our recruitment plan. We are very clear about that. If you are getting a fresher and giving him a joining date, you stick to that date. That is how you attract the best talent. In other places, they may not be recruiting, but we are recruiting. It could as much as we did last year.

Apparently, the reorganisation strategy is taking longer to fructify.

Remember we are dealing with a 22-year-old culture. Not one year of culture. Unfortunately, when you have that kind of culture embedded so deeply, it takes time to change. But I am optimistic. Today at Wipro, the leadership takes ownership. It is perhaps the biggest change you see now. The biggest thing that was missing in Wipro was accountability. That story is completely over now. Accountability starts at the highest level. You may still have some issues at the lower levels. But that will also get weeded out very quickly.

In the long term there is a tremendous value in that. It is a different game. You cannot have command and control organisations. You cannot run such an organisation with a structure like ours. There is information available everywhere.

(This article was published on November 2, 2012)
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