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Friday, June 6, 2008

An interview with Arun Narayanan - UST Global COO

Arun Narayanan, Joint Chief Operating Officer of USTThe availability of quality manpower talent in India has enabled UST Global to expand on a massive scale in the Asian sub-continent. UST Global is currently the biggest software employer in the ‘God's Own Country’ and has aptly set up its Indian headquarters at Technopark in Thiruvananthapuram.

The California-based IT major provides end-to-end IT services and business process outsourcing solutions for Global 2000 companies. UST, which primarily caters to the US and European markets, plans to set up centres across tier-II and tier-III towns of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. With nearly 5,500 employees, mostly in India, UST Global is keen on increasing its headcount in the country. Last year, UST Global was ranked second in the top 20 Outsourced Software Testing & QA Vendors.

Part of the $6-billion Comcraft group, UST’s goal is to become a $1-billion company by 2010. In an exclusive interview to, Arun Narayanan, Joint Chief Operating Officer of UST, shares the company’s growth plans.

Joining UST Global in 2000, Arun was instrumental in setting up the offshore delivery centres for the company. For Arun, people are assets of the organisation and he has implemented innovative people practices for UST employees. Notable being the 'Colors of UST Global', a concept that enables associates to own organisational goals that are aligned to their personal goals.

With over 18 years experience in the global IT industry, Arun has earlier held key positions in HCL and IMR-Global.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of Indian IT force?

The strengths of the Indian IT force are their technical education, English language skills and the proficiency in IT and outsourcing. The other strength is the scalability of talent. We constantly run training programmes to hone up the business knowledge in various domains.

UST Global's various centres
UST Global's various centres

Any immediate acquisitions on your radar?

We are always looking for companies that complement our services as potential acquisition targets. We are very careful about the companies we acquire due to our high emphasis on cultural alignment and the innate challenges of integrating companies. In the past, we acquired e-commerce provider eBuilt and software testing and QA company - QA Labs - to expand our service portfolio. Currently, we are looking at companies in the ERP and BI space, as those are the areas our clients have growing needs in.

Where is India centre placed in your global map?

India has been and continues to be a critical component of our growth strategy. Today, we have operations in Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Chennai and Bangalore. We are looking at additional cities in India to expand as it makes sense from a business and growth perspective.

How do you tackle attrition in your organisation?

At UST Global, we focus on creating professional opportunities and a positive working environment based on the values of humanity, humility and integrity so that our associates want to stay and build their careers with us. We developed a corporate programme called “Colors of UST Global” which enables associates to own organisational goals that are aligned with their personal interests. The “UST global Handprint” programme helps our associates in developing fundamental competencies required for our business.

What's the impact of US slowdown on UST Global?

UST Global derives our business from Global 2000 enterprises. While Q1 2008 saw positive revenue growth over Q4 2007, the percentage of growth was lower than Q1 2007. However, we are seeing healthy growth in Q2 2008. In Q1, 2008, we also signed more new engagements than any other quarter in our history.

Do you wish to look beyond Kerala and Tamil Nadu?

We also have operations in several states in India. We are looking at other cities in India where and when it makes sense for us to have operations. In addition to our corporate headquarters and several offices in the US, we have global operations in Canada, the Philippines, Malaysia and Europe.

How long do you expect the outsourcing bandwagon to continue?

Outsourcing is not a bandwagon but an economic necessity. It has only barely tapped its potential. There is a growing market demand for outsourcing services because it makes good business sense, regardless of whether economic conditions are good or challenging.

Tell us about your fund-raising plans?

UST Global is part of the $6-billion Comcraft group. The group funds us internally.

What's your way of empowering women employees?

UST Global promotes diversity of all kinds. To specifically support our women associates, we created NowU (Network of Women UST-associates). NowU is a global community of empowered company personnel dedicated to helping women within the company and community achieve their highest potential. It provides access to women in leadership as well as opportunities for growth and learning through networking, sustainable development and training.

Can you throw light on your 'Green' initiative?

Since its inception, UST Global has been a green company before green became “cool”. In recognition of our green initiatives, UST was ranked number 7 on the 2007 Top 20 Green IT Outsourcers report by the Brown & Wilson Group. Throughout the year our company is committed to many activities that are an integral part of our on-going, long-term initiatives to support the earth's eco-systems that include investing in eco-friendly practices, building eco-balanced offices and planting trees.

(courtesy : sify)

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