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July - 2007 - issue > How I Got Where I am Today
Ceasless advance amid continous change
Michael Paulraj
Monday, July 2, 2007
An Appetite for Change
Swapping one role for another has been Ganesan’s hallmark since the very beginning. On completion of twelfth standard in early 1980s he joined an arts college in Erode to do his Bachelors in Commerce only to switch colleges within months to join the BE course in Coimbatore Institute of Technology; even here he joined the chemical engineering branch only to switch to Electronics later.

This attribute continued even after Ganesan was done with his studies and got into job in fact jobs in different organizations – and shaped his life and career. His career is punctuated by spells of running his own startups that he invariably closed down and often returned to the company that he left. There is an element of surprise in this as the companies readily admitted him back in their fold and entrusted him with a higher responsibility.

Even his seemingly unpredictable moves never led his
friends to abandon him in favor of a less adventurous and hence safe job elsewhere. This speaks loudly about his reliability and leadership qualities.

Lessons Learnt Early
An aspiring Ganesan started a company in Chennai to manufacture fax and modem cards for the PC industry in the latter part of the ‘80s. But while he was making these gadgets, other countries went way ahead by integrating the functions as a small part in the chip and mass-producing them. The whirl of fast technological development soon made his design obsolete. The company was closed and Ganesan never again ventured into manufacturing.

Ganesan developed a penchant for consultancy services and founded his own consultancy companies more than once, only to wind up them subsequently to get into jobs. He did well in the IP product design area and soon found this to be his mainstay.

Climbing up the Corporate Ladder, with Elan
Ganesan joined Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, Hyderabad, on completion of his masters in IIT Madras. Within a few months he left this organization to Join Tata Consultancy Services, Mumbai. It is here that he picked up a predilection for consultancy services. In Hewlett Packard, Valid Logic System, and Cadence, the companies that he joined one after another after quitting TCS, Ganesan worked on the product design and development areas.

In 1998 he moved on to and took charge of the Silicon Library within Synopsys. A twenty-year veteran in the EDA/ASIC design industry, Ganesan played a key role in setting up the India product development center of Artisan Components, a provider of physical IP components for the design and manufacture of complex system-on-a-chip integrated circuits. Ganesan joined Artisan when it acquired Synopsys’ Physical Library Business, where he was director of engineering.

Initially, Ganesan hired 40 engineers and sent them to the U.S. to work at Artisan’s design centers in San Diego and Sunnyvale. Brought back to the India center after training, they played a strategic role in Artisan’s product research, development and customer support.

By the end of 2004, Artisan was acquired by ARM and Ganesan became the head of ARM’s India operations. He did a fantastic job in creating and growing the ARM design center in India from 40 to 250 people.

A few moths back, Ganesan got a call from the CEO of ARM asking him to take up a larger role within ARM. He did not have second thoughts of taking up the position. The quick decision maker that he is, Ganesan never hesitates to take up responsibilities, however challenging it is. “I am not a person who waits for all the data to arrive in order to take a decision. Given what I know today, I take the appropriate decision. At the same time I am flexible to change course as new data arrives,” he says. Even if it is to tread uncharted waters, Ganesan is ready for it. “If the path is paved and everyone knows what needs to be done, then there is no fun. If there is something to be explored on the way I would love it,” he says.

For the last several months, Ganesan has been juggling his role as India operations and VP of Engineering for ARM. It’s hectic but he loves it. He is now moving back to the U.S.

A Fighter to the Core
Ganesan is a fighter armed with an insatiable thirst for success and growth. Since the days he started the small PC boards manufacturing company to the present when he heads a large organization, Ganesan has literally fought his way through. His past career maneuvers reveal his restless spirit that has constantly taken him forward, while there is not a trace of aimless ambition.

The lessons he has learnt in the process are many and their benefits immeasurable. A rare attribute of resilience that Ganesan possessed since his early years ensured that he constantly moved upwards and never slid back in his career path.

There is a downside though, so to speak, to all his accomplishments. Ganesan seems to have sacrificed his personal life. Very often he stays in office even after midnight and goes home only to have a nap before again starting for office as usual in the morning.

“It is not fair on my part to keep a number of seniors in Sunnyvale, California, or in the UK awake during our daytime in order to have a discussion or to communicate an important point. Instead, I stay awake during our night time and make it easy for them to communicate with me,” he reasons out.

But he has missed on many things. Ganesan is a passive addict of Carnatic music, true to his roots in Thanjavur district from where he comes. But now he hardly has time to listen to music, save when he drives. As a youth he had a passion for bridge game but has not touched, to use his own words, the cards for the past fifteen years.

Sacrifice is what a fighter is expected to be ready to make at all times. Ganesan has truly sacrificed for the sake of his profession. He has no regrets yet, and is calm and contented. This sense of contentment and confidence apparently derives from the fact that Ganesan has successfully attained the present level in the company here through tireless work. A unique example of a roving character in the corporate world finally maturing to lead a settled life!

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