The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

Think Globally, Excel Locally

Vic Kulkarni
Friday, February 1, 2008
Vic Kulkarni
It really is a small world. The modern executive maintains personal and professional contacts on several continents with customers, sales teams, R&D teams, production facilities, friends, and colleagues. Technology helps establish and foster these far-flung relationships, and many of us routinely communicate electronically (by voice, videoconference, e-mail) with people throughout the world.

In a high-tech career that has stretched over three decades, I have witnessed the evolution of this trend from the times when outsourcing anything but the simplest tasks to a low-cost, overseas producer was a great risk, to the present when international collaboration with equals is fast becoming daily routine.

Early in my management career I was tasked with overseeing an R&D group in Europe for a Silicon Valley based company. Their work was outstanding, but their approach to business and customers differed from the way we did things back at the corporate headquarters. It taught me that becoming a multinational company meant there was no single standard that could be applied to different locations on the globe. Centralized control, as was exercised in the erstwhile Soviet Union, failed miserably and the same could be equally disastrous in business.

It soon became apparent to me that the way the team in Europe did things wasn’t ‘foreign’ to them or the customers there – their way of doing things was conditioned by the knowledge they had of business and culture, and that worked in their country.

In those days ‘globalization’ was not being practiced in the wider sense it has acquired now, it was almost exclusively ‘outsourcing’ then. When I arrived at Sequence, I partnered with an Indian company. Though I grew up in Mumbai, I went straight from IIT to graduate school and a career in the U.S. So my experience with Indian business practices was nil. So our idea was to start by getting our feet wet by learning about R&D management in India through Interra. That experience changed our world from ‘outsourcing’ to true ‘offshoring’.

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