During the final decade of the 20th century, the advent of the Internet gave rise to the `connected economy', leading to the establishment of a `global workplace.' How do we create new organisations in a borderless world? How do we keep focused on the human factor? Global Express interviewed Mohan Bhagwandas in Melbourne, Australia, who works for Megatec, a member of the global IT company, Kanbay.
In the early 1970s, three young idealists found themselves in India, in community development work. John Patterson (Canada), Raymond Spencer (Australia) and Dileep Nath (India) spent 15 years together, engaging people in development processes in rural areas, to encourage them to participate more fully in India's economy. In the 1980s, having gained valuable insights, the three men set out to make their vision a reality.
John Patterson, now a Regional Director of Kanbay Inc. for Asia Pacific based in Hong Kong, explains, `We had a serious review of what we were doing in India. We could see that India was going to play a leading role in the global Information Technology revolution (at that time the PC had not been invented). We set out to find a way to use that vehicle to help develop new leaders in India and the world. So we registered a company in the US and then in India. We had to borrow the money necessary for the establishment costs, and Kanbay Incorporated was born.'
Today, 15 years on, Kanbay is a multi-million dollar company with 1000 associates (staff are called associates), working on four continents. In the foothills of the magnificent Western Ghats (mountains), 28 kilometres from the centre of Pune city, lies Kanbay's e-Solutions Centre, with 450 people in one of the most modern workplaces in India. There is a long waiting list to join the company.
What's so special about Kanbay?
Says the Indian Director Dileep Nath, `All of us are people of deep integrity. Honesty is a bedrock value. Today if you want greater leverage across the globe you need a physical global infrastructure, which many companies have. But at the deeper level you also need to have a value system that honours all the cultures within which you work. This makes us different from other organisations. This is not an Indian, American or Australian company. It's a global company, and it goes right back to our foundations.'
CEO Raymond Spencer, an Australian who now lives in Chicago, says that the company he and his friends founded has one core objective-- `to build an enduring demonstration of the workplace of the future'. He outlines the company's corporate principles:
We value respect for the individual.
We value our ability to create and exceed high client expectations.
We value honesty, integrity and open and caring communication.
We value attracting, developing and retaining a diverse group of people to achieve both personal and corporate goals.
We value an ownership mentality that encourages innovation and risk-taking.
We value a spirit of co-operation that is seen in our ability to perform in teams and partnerships.
We value work that enables us to give back to our global society.
What are the differences between Kanbay and other companies who set up IT shops in India?
With some passion, John Patterson says, `On the surface of things it is not that different. But dig a little below the surface and you will begin to discern the difference. It has evolved as a global company, developing simultaneously in the US, in Asia and in India. The advantage of various cultures being in at the beginning makes it different from other companies.
`This has led to a cohesiveness in our organisation which is its strength. We all have a strong sense of ownership-- ``I am part of this company and it is part of me''. The chemistry and synergy with which the company developed has given us this sense of identity, which is the key to our rapid growth and stability.
`The key differentiator in our success, delivery and negotiations with our clients has been our ability to understand both business and the human factor. As we move towards public listing on Nasdaq, we believe that people will want to have a stake in our company because our commercial success is driven by some of the world's best people working together as a team.'
How does a global organisation with diverse nationalities resolve differences and conflicts?
John Patterson says, `We don't dwell on the past. But it has to be understood in order to learn from it and build the future that we all intend. So we evaluate thoroughly when things do not go as planned. That way we all learn from such experiences.
`When people get hurt in the processes of our business life, the organisation needs to provide the kind of place that allows healing to happen. We have to understand that healing is not an instantaneous process. There is patience required. You don't get over difficulties immediately. Having patience with the individual's speed of recovery is important.
`Literally, these days, things are done at the speed of light. It isn't just a saying anymore! Clients expect results immediately. We all have such high expectations in relation to productivity. In business, we often underestimate the importance of sensitivity to the human factor. We intend our organisation to be good at that sensitivity.'
Cyprian D'Souza, one of the company Directors working in Pune, adds, `The fundamental beliefs of an organisation are like the roots of a tree. Like roots, beliefs are not visible. But without roots the tree will wither and die. As the trunk, branches, leaves and fruit of a tree are visible, so in an organisation the operations, actions, functioning and behaviours are visible.'
For more information: http://www.kanbay.com